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High-flying girls soar on Hunter mission


The RDA Hunter’s hugely-successful Girls With a Mission (GWAM) program took flight in the region this week.

A long-running initiative, it gives students the opportunity to engage with female leaders in STEM and aerospace.

GWAM also increases awareness of aviation and engineering skills and careers in the local defence industry, enabling the pupils to improve their technical knowledge while building other talents, like teamwork and communication.

Aircraft maintenance in Newcastle. Photo: Lewis Morley

The program, boasting 45 students, comprised two separate one-day workshops, one based at the TAFE NSW Newcastle and the other in Luskintyre, which aided Upper Hunter schools.

They constructed and test-flew a model aeroplane to complete a scenario-based mission, with industry representatives providing one-on-one mentorship during the activities, engaging in conversations about their own career journeys.

Honing the design at Newcastle. Photo: Lewis Morley

The opening session at TAFE NSW Newcastle Aviation Skills facility saw teachers deliver the educational components and University of Newcastle Aerospace Engineering representatives guide the students.

The second workshop attracted Upper Hunter pupils, working with members from Luskintyre Aircraft Restoration to recreate historical models based on aircraft located in their hangar.

Design fix – Luskintyre. Photo: Lewis Morley

RDA Hunter’s CEO Trevor John said the organisation’s ME Program, which is funded by Australia’s Department of Defence, had been operational since 2009.

“We’ve enjoyed plenty of success in inspiring students to study STEM subjects at school and higher education and consider careers in our local defence industry,” he explained.

“Expanding Girls With a Mission into new facilities across the Hunter is a great result for the program.

“We’re very pleased that GWAM remains a valuable and interesting activity for our partner schools and their pupils.

“GWAM and activities like it are possible because of the unwavering support of our industry partners and partner schools who help us create and deliver programs that teach industry-relevant skills.”

TAFE NSW guidance – Luskintyre. Photo: Lewis Morley

TAFE NSW team leader, Aviation and Aerospace, Andrew Trease admitted the initiative gave pupils a practical, hands-on experience, using techniques and equipment that was used in the aviation industry today.

“TAFE NSW prides itself on our relationships with local schools and employers in our region,” he said.

“And, this program is an excellent example of organisations coming together to provide an extraordinary experience.

“We are actively engaging with industry all the time, to stay across the latest updates in skills needs, and to ensure we are providing quality training to meet the evolving trends and demand for workers in this space.

“These students are gaining first-hand knowledge about working in the aviation industry, potentially sparking an interest in pursuing this as a career path, while also getting a foot in the door with important industry contacts.”

Taking flight at Luskintyre. Photo: Lewis Morley

The workshops were delivered in partnership with the region’s defence industry, Tighes Hill TAFE’s Aviation and Aerospace Department and the Luskintyre Aircraft Restoration.

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