Keynote speakers - Design And Technology Teacher Association QLD

Keynote speakers

Daniel Spat
Queensland Chair, Design Institute of Australia (DIA)

Dan is an accomplished designer, his deep skills in design include graphics, user interface, user experience and multimedia. He has 15 years of experience delivering projects for government, private and not-for-profit clients. Dan’s recent contracts include Education Queensland, State Library of Queensland, Services Australia, and Stadiums Queensland.

As the elected Queensland Chair of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), Dan’s energy is focused on student and design industry engagement, nationwide advocacy and communicating to the national office on state branch programs.

During 2019 and 2021, Dan was a category convenor and judge for the DIA’s Graduate of the Year awards program, providing recommendations, critique and criteria matching for over 60 final-year design students portfolios from tertiary institutes including QUT, Griffith QCA, UQ and TAFE Qld.

Dan was educated at USC majoring in Art and Design and has since given lectures at the Moreton Bay campus and online with TAFE Queensland.

Welcome! This presentation will feature a passionate designer’s mixed perspectives about design education and how several essential and technical skills learned in the classroom align to industry expectations.

Firstly, we will identify several important attributes a designer currently needs to be confident with, including technical proficiency, prototyping, problem-solving and professionalism.

Secondly, by the time a student graduates their transferrable knowledge will morph and match professions and pathways that are rarely considered from K-12. We will talk about some of the current in-demand jobs to inspire uptake of Design and Technology, and ask the audience about their school’s current career counsellors.

Thirdly, new concepts or jobs of 2023 and beyond will be as diverse and demanding as the United Nations 17 SDGs, which we will briefly talk about. As the digital and physical landscape rapidly evolves and combines, we see increasing frequency of Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity and circular economy hitting the headlines; we interact with the audience for common design assignments, buzzwords and questions from students.

As we bring ourselves back to the classroom, we explore fun activities to engage students’ interest in design and technology. Three examples will be explored to spark innovation; Shark Tank – Modelled on the TV show and the national high school competition. Dream Machine – Solve the scenario, with only a few prompts students will be briefed on the environment, the problem, resources, budget and brief. Design De-Construction – By popular vote, identify a common household product and dive into a complete de-construction and analysis of the object.

Finally, we’ll hear about some continuous professional development opportunities for teachers and take questions, before wrapping up with references and further reading. Plenty of topics to explore and takeaway from this fast moving design-powered presentation.

Sarah Atkins
Principal Project Officer, Australian Curriculum: Technologies,
Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority

Sarah Atkins is Principal Project Officer, Australian Curriculum: Technologies at Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA). She has over 30 years’ experience in Learning Technologies, including as Education Lead at She Maps working with geospatial technologies in education, Curriculum Officer at ACARA as part of the Digital Technologies in Focus Project, Assistant Manager: Technologies for Queensland Department of Education and as a specialist eLearning and Digital Technologies teacher.

Sarah is passionate about helping teachers to build supportive learning environments where students can use technologies to create innovative sustainable solutions to the issues that matter to them. She has a thorough knowledge of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies having had an active role in the Version 9.0 curriculum review at ACARA. Sarah has recently completed a Master of Education – STEM Specialisation to further broaden her knowledge of STEM and the connections across learning areas. She loves to tinker and create in her home studio with projects including furniture upcycling and construction, fashion design and wearable technologies with electronics.

What comes to mind when you think of Design and Technologies? Do you immediately picture students learning to use equipment in workshops, kitchens or gardens or do you think about contemporary issues facing society and how people design solutions?

The rationale of the Australian Curriculum: Design and Technologies Version 9.0 articulates the importance of technologies in enriching and transforming societies and environments. Design and Technologies provides opportunities for students to engage in authentic learning challenges that foster curiosity, confidence, persistence, innovation, creativity, respect and cooperation (ACARA, 2022).

In this presentation, we will explore the messages from Version 9.0 and challenge ourselves to rethink how we are currently framing Design and Technologies in our schools. We will consider the opportunities presented by the new curriculum and consider how we can enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding of traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies as critical users of technologies and innovative designers and producers of designed solutions for their preferred futures.

We will look at the role of Design and Technologies specialists including contemporary influencers and how we can use them to help students make connections to their design solutions. We will consider the role that emerging technologies have to play in the education landscape and how we can harness these technologies to motivate students to be curious and innovative.

The keynote will also contain a preview of QCAA resources to support schools with familiarisation and planning for Australian Curriculum: Technologies Version 9.0.

Dinner speakers

Michele Pikunic
STEM Teacher, Worongary State School

Michele is an experienced classroom teacher and current STEM Teacher from Worongary State School. She has presented workshops and training to whole staff and teaching teams, as well as to colleagues outside of her school community. She is an advocate for age-appropriate pedagogy, digital and design technologies, robotics, and STEM education. Michele is a facilitator for the Primary STEM Teachers (PST) Network (South East Region, Queensland) and works in partnership with her Regional STEM Officer, Griffith University Gold Coast, industry and other schools in the South-East Region. In 2022, Michele was awarded the Community Impact Award (Women in Technologies) and National Excellence in Teaching (NEiTA) Award.

Pranab Agarwal
DevOps Manager, IBM Australia

Pranab Agarwal is a DevOps Manager, Asia Pacific for a Cybersecurity product, with IBM Australia. He has 23+ years of work experience in field of IT/Software development. He has a Masters Degree in Computer and Telecommunication Engineering from University of Wollongong, NSW. After having worked in different countries like India, Singapore, US he finally decided to settle in the Sunshine state in the Gold Coast.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) connects with every aspect of today’s world, and the innovations that emerge from these fields underlie the global economy. Our challenge is to ensure we prepare every young person to take advantage of the many opportunities a knowledge-based economy offers and become future entrepreneurs. We must harness the passion for change and innovation by engaging students early in STEM and providing them with the opportunities they need to develop as problem solvers, critical and creative thinkers. This is where STEM Professionals can play a significant role in transforming primary education. Through partnerships with schools, STEM professionals can inspire young students provide resources for teachers and make a significant impact on primary education.


To lift Australia’s capacity and capability in STEM and inspire the future workforce, CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in Schools program connects schools and industry to bring real world STEM into the classroom. This presentation will provide an overview of the program, the benefits to students, schools and industry whilst showcasing an example of a successful Queensland partnership.

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