It takes something pretty exciting for a bunch of school kids to drop their virtual reality goggles or get out of the cockpit of a Sikorsky helicopter.
That something was Mark McGowan.
Thousands of students who were at the Resources Technology Showcase today got an added surprise when the rock star of Australian politics walked into the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
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The words “we love you Mark” were ringing around the exhibition halls as the Premier and his deputy Roger Cook inspected the two dozen installations by the world’s biggest mining and energy companies.
Mr McGowan and Mr Cook spun a prize wheel at the BHP activation before wandering past the Roy Hill and Gold Industry Group displays.
Mr McGowan had a 3D scan taken of his upper body at the WesTrac and Caterpillar stand before moving on to TAFE’s exhibition, which is anchored by a mobile underground mine simulator.
As explosions from Shell’s Supersonic Science demonstration rang out behind them, Mr McGowan and Mr Cook looked at the University of WA stand and patted a robotic dog at the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE) installation.
They watched visitors have their photos taken on a giant green screen and placed on a mock-up front page of The West Australia newspaper at a stand by Seven West Media, which hosted RTS2021.
Telstra organised a remote rocket launch and FUGRO discussed their satellite technology before the pair wandered past ERGT’s Sikorsky and students sporting Sentient Computing’s virtual reality googles.
Mr McGowan and Mr Cook then toured the Department of Education STEM hub, where hundreds of students demonstrated their own innovations under a giant cube screen that promoted a competition where schools can win an all-expenses-paid excursion to see Chevron’s Wheatstone LNG plant in the Pilbara.
Rio Tinto’s wildly popular virtual reality display was the next stop before the Premier drove, remotely, a Fortescue Metals dozer stationed in the Pilbara and had a ride on one of three helicopter simulators operated by the Department of Defence, which is a principal sponsor of RTS2021 in partnership with the WA Government.
The hundreds of students who filed into the exhibition space via the Woodside experience tunnel, which welcomes schools taking part in the organised excursion program, were astonished to see the Premier walk past them and say hello.
Mr McGowan said the event was an amazing insight into the resources industry and how technology is changing it.
“These are jobs of the future. They’re high tech, they’re high paid. They’re the exact sort of jobs we want for Western Australians,” Mr McGowan said.
“I’d encourage all Western Australians, whether you’re entering the workforce for the first time, you’re going to university or TAFE or you’re looking for a career change, this is the sort of thing you need to do.”