Community & Business

20 August, 2022

Passion for drones leads to STEM success

A MAREEBA local with a passion for science, drones and preserving her Aboriginal history and heritage has been selected as a keynote speaker for the upcoming STEM Aboriginal Learner Congress in August.

Mareeba’s Gullara McInnes will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming STEM Aboriginal Learner Congress.
Mareeba’s Gullara McInnes will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming STEM Aboriginal Learner Congress.

Through her love of drones and passion for her traditional country, 19-year-old Bachelor of Science student Gullara McInnes (pictured) has been invited to speak at the upcoming congress on 18-19 August, hoping to inspire other young indigenous women to pursue careers in STEM. 

The congress is hosted by the Young Aboriginal STEM Thinkers of South Australia, run by young Aboriginal people for young Aboriginal people.

It aims to engage young indigenous Australians with science, technology, engineering, math and industry experiences.

Ms McInnes’s fascination with drones was born during her time as a student at Mareeba State High School where she learned the wonders of geospatial mapping. 

Her interest in geospatial mapping eventually enabled her to provide local indigenous elders the opportunity to identify traditional indigenous sites from the sky. 

“As some of our elders passed away and others were physically unable to point out certain traditional sites, we were faced with a problem,” Ms McInnes said.

“There are big trees that surround the locations and restrict us from easily accessing them. 

“That is when I decided to use two drones, one to provide a bird’s eye view and the other to get under the canopy to enable our local elders to identify the different sites using modern drone technology.” 

Ms McInnes’s program and her own initiative to map Country resulted in her winning the “Caring for Country Award” during NAIDOC Week in 2020. 

Now getting the chance to speak at the STEM congress, she is encouraging girls to break down the social barriers and to dream big.

“I’m a girl who loves science and drones, and no matter what people say, I’m not stopping until I’m the greatest female drone pilot in Australia,” she said. 

“Then I’m setting my bar to global recognition and I hope that one day, I’ll be able to teach the operation of drones to students.”


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