Keeping machines in the air: students given a glimpse into the flying industry

Annie Bond is passionate about engineering and a recent opportunity has sparked a love of planes.

The Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School year nine student described the recent visit to RAAF Base Amberley as ‘just surreal’.

Annie was part of a work experience program that took eight students to visit the engineering units for the F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and C-17A Globemaster.

“My favourite part of the experience was definitely going inside the C-17 and learning about all the effort that goes into making it fly,” Annie said.

“This experience allowed me to fall in love with planes and the thought of being a pilot or an aeronautical engineer.”

Boeing program manager Chris Gray said this was the first time the program had been undertaken with an all-girls school, and the first time Boeing and Defence had partnered on a STEM event for young women at RAAF Base Amberley.

“Our past experience shows that practical involvement engages young people with STEM and inspires those who otherwise hadn’t considered a career in aerospace,” Mr Gray said.

Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School students during their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics tour of Boeing Defence Australia’s facilities at RAAF Base Amberley. Annie Bond is second from right.

Flight Lieutenant Shannan Nichols, an engineering officer with the Systems Program Office, also found it rewarding.

“It was great seeing the students’ eyes light up when they saw the technology we operate and maintain,” Flight Lieutenant Nichols said.

“I believe it’s in Defence’s best interests to maximise opportunities like this, both to build a positive connection with these students and also inspire their enthusiasm to be involved with STEM careers.”

Ipswich Girls Grammar School deputy principal Jayne Acutt said the program was an exciting step in creating a long-term pathway for more women to pursue technical careers.

“Initially the opportunity was presented for a cohort of six students who were asked to apply in writing detailing why they would like to take up the opportunity,” Ms Acutt said.

“However the calibre of submissions and enthusiasm shown by the students resulted in the selection of eight participants – an increase that Boeing and Defence willingly accommodated.”

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