Over recent months I’ve been lucky enough to become involved with a group of post-graduate students who are trying to stem the flow of graduates out of NZ. The story (well the Wellington chapter of it at least!) goes back to about June last year and (hopefully!) comes to fruition on Thursday evening next week with the launch of Chiasma WGTN at Te Papa. Simply – Chiasma connects students with local high-tech industry. Here in Wellington we’re lucky enough to have some seriously cool science companies, yet students (and locals) often don’t hear about them as much of their publicity focus is off-shore and as a student your focus tends to be particularly ‘academic’. Ultimately, when students finish their studies, this leads to them having no idea where to seek employment (unless of course they’re one of the top 2% (figure from the 2006 NZ census) that actually makes a career in academia – a group of which this author is certainly not a member!) and, having little to no knowledge of local industry, many simply leave NZ for perceived greener pastures overseas. This is usually after NZ taxpayers have funded their 3+ years working in research as well! By showing graduates what opportunities there are in NZ (and Wellington), and by giving industry easy access to these bright, capable students (who, by the way, there is plenty of funding available through MSI to employ if companies can’t afford it outright), Chiasma will not only retain skills, but will also develop them for use in a business context.
We have had absolutely astounding response from local industry, who have bent over backwards to help us (WGTN Tech community = seriously cool!), and of course where would we with without our supporters: Victoria University Faculties of Science and Engineering, Industrial Research Limited, the fabulous MacDiarmid Institute, GrowWGTN and the Wellington City Council.
Paul Callaghan has frequently mentioned how transferable science and engineering skills are to the business world, and at Chiasma we want to see those students skills and businesses flourish! For anyone interested in being a part (either as an employer or as an interested student) you’re welcome to attend our launch on Thursday the 29th March (next Thursday) at Te Papa’s ICON lounge at 5:30pm. It’s free to attend, but guests must register here. The evening will most be networking with members of Wellington’s high-tech industries and students, but will also feature keynote speakers: Andrew Coy (CEO of Magritek) and Helen Anderson (Director of NIWA and BRANZ) and our very own Ben Mallet (CEO Chiasma WGTN). If you want more info about Chiasma WGTN before coming along, check out our website at wgtn.chiasma.org.nz, flick me an email, or keep an eye on the next post which will give a little back story of Chiasma WGTN.