Keynote Speakers

Alan Finkel | Marek Kowalkiewicz | Fred Watson | Lyn English | Felicity Furey


Alan Finkel 

Dr Finkel commenced as Australia’s Chief Scientist on 25 January 2016. He is Australia’s eighth Chief Scientist. Prior to becoming Chief Scientist, he was the eighth Chancellor of Monash University and the eighth President of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

Since commencing as Chief Scientist, Dr Finkel has led the Review into the National Electricity Market (“Finkel Review”) and the 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap. He currently leads the STEM Industry Partnership Forum for the COAG Education Council and serves as the Deputy Chair of Innovation and Science Australia. Dr Finkel has an extensive science background as an entrepreneur, engineer, neuroscientist and educator. He was awarded his PhD in electrical engineering from Monash University and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in neuroscience at the Australian National University.


Marek Kowalkiewicz

Professor Marek Kowalkiewicz is an academic and industry leader with extensive experience in conducting academically sound research, co-innovating with industry and university partners, and delivering innovative products to the market. Currently, as Professor and PwC Chair in Digital Economy, as well as Leader of the Embracing Digital Age research theme, he leads Queensland University of Technology’s research agenda to inform and influence a robust digital economy in Australia and the region. He joined QUT from Silicon Valley, where he led innovation teams of one of the largest enterprise software vendors in the world. Before Silicon Valley, Marek worked in Singapore, Australia and China. Marek manages a contemporary research portfolio and converts industry driven opportunities into research outcomes of global relevance. He is an invited government expert, university lecturer and project lead, as well as an inventor and author.

Marek is recognised as a top quality manager and excellent public speaker, and has an interest in working with stakeholders in developing innovative ideas, ground-breaking business applications and high-impact new technologies. For more info about Marek and his work:


Fred Watson 

Fred Watson is the former Astronomer-in-Charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory. He is now Astronomer-at-Large in the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and holds adjunct professorial positions at six Australian universities. Fred is best known for his radio and TV broadcasts, talks, and other outreach programs, which earned him the 2006 Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science. He has also written a number of award-winning books, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010. Fred has an asteroid named after him (5691 Fredwatson), but says that if it hits Earth, it won’t be his fault.



Lyn English  

Lyn English is Professor of STEM in Education at the Faculty of Education, QUT. Her areas of research include mathematics education, engineering education, integrated STEM learning, mathematical modelling, problem solving and posing, statistics education, and mathematical reasoning and development. Professor English’s research has been supported for over two decades by many grants from the Australian Research Council. She was awarded the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia Career Research Medal, 2012, and the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research in 2015. She is a Senior Research Scientist (Adjunct) of the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Professor English is a Fellow of The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and is founding editor (1997) of the international journal, Mathematical Thinking and Learning (Taylor & Francis).


Felicity Furey 

Felicity has been curious her whole life about how things worked and passionate about creating things for people, so becoming a Civil Engineer and social entrepreneur was almost logical.

After realising the lack of diversity in engineering, which is largely due to the misperceptions of the industry, Felicity co-founded not-for-profit Power of Engineering. The organisation has now reached over 8,000 students across Australia through one day events and partnerships with industry and universities. 75% of students who were a ‘no’ to engineering before the day change their mind to a ‘yes’ after the event.

Wanting to make a bigger, longer term impact, Felicity co-founded social enterprise Machinam which engages and motivates students in maths. Machinam’s digital maths resource, In Real Life for year 9 and 10, connects what students are learning in maths class to the real world and authentically how they would use maths.

This work, along with her professional career, saw Felicity named as one of the Financial Review BOSS Magazine’s Young Executives of the Year in 2016 and named as one of Australia’s ‘100 Women of Influence’ at just 26 years old.

Felicity’s ten year corporate career includes working as a Senior Project Manager at innovative engineering consultancy Arup, Management Consultant at fortune 500 company AECOM and delivering a $45 million dollar transport infrastructure project portfolio for local communities with Brisbane City Council.