RDA Hunter’s ME Program launched its new GIRLS WITH A MISSION program on Tuesday, 20th and Wednesday 21st September 2022.

The brand-new program, delivered in partnership with TAFE NSW, aims to increase female student awareness of aviation and electrotechnology skills and careers in the aviation industry locally. Four girls from each of five Hunter high schools: Callaghan College Waratah, Cardiff, Maitland, Maitland Grossmann and Toronto, attended the Aviation Skills Hub at TAFE NSW Newcastle (Tighes Hill) for the two-day workshop.

Guided by TAFE NSW teachers and representatives from local aviation industry: BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin Australia, Women in Aviation Australian Chapter, Boeing Defence Australia, University of Newcastle (Aerospace Engineering) and FlyPelican, the students constructed an F22 model airplane and test-flew it on a scenariobased aid mission

The girls were also treated to career presentations by aviation industry representatives. RDA Hunter’s CEO and Director of Regional Development, Mr Trevor John said the organisation’s ME Program which is funded by Australia’s Department of Defence, has been delivering programs and activities to increase student awareness of defence and aviation careers in the Hunter region since 2009.

“Our programs, delivered in partnership with local industry and local educators, help build the defence industry and aerospace workforce of the future. We’ve been successful in inspiring students to study STEM subjects at school and higher education and consider careers in the sector locally.”

“GIRLS WITH A MISSION is the latest activity in the ME Program suite. Aimed specifically at female students, the exciting and sought-after program gives girls hands-on experience, helps them use their STEM skills in practical applications and connects them with local industry – their potential future employers.”

Andrew Trease, Director for Aviation and Aerospace at TAFE NSW said the two-day program would provide a unique opportunity for students from the area to get a taste of what an aviation career is about.

“It’s great to see so many TAFE NSW Industry connections come together to give these local students a chance to get a taste of what a career in aviation has to offer, from engineering, cabin crew, ground crew or flying drones. It’s been a long time coming and a lot of work. Still, we are thrilled to have female students from these local schools take part and encourage them to consider a VET pathway to aviation and help advance female representation in the industry.”

TAFE NSW Newcastle is the location of the region’s first Aviation Delivery Hub. The new purpose-built facility will help launch thousands of aviation careers in Newcastle and around the state.

“This hub will deliver a suite of courses to help anyone interested in aviation and aerospace get on the right path for a rewarding career,” said Andrew.

According to Cardiff High School teacher, Adam Ross, programs like GIRLS WITH A MISSION have a positive impact on girls who are considering choosing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) studies in their senior school years.

“Activities that engage students in the practical applications of STEM are really valuable in helping them commit to further study in the area.  The opportunity to work in teams, connect directly with industry and put their technical skills into action is an important motivator,“ Mr Ross said.

GIRLS WITH A MISSION industry partner, Women in Aviation (WAI) Australian Chapter NSW Chair, Grace Walker said, “WAI Australia provides a national platform that represents all facets of the aviation and aerospace industry, and we work to engage and inspire the next generation of leaders. Being able to support likeminded bodies with events such as Girls with a Mission to encourage and attract girls and women into the industry is an extremely important part of that work. Our platform also provides mentoring and scholarships to assist women develop and refine their skills in readiness for careers in aviation.”

RDA Hunter will continue to develop its successful ME Program suite of activities in response to the requirements of Hunter-based defence and aviation industry. The intense interest in GIRLS WITH A MISSION by schools and industry partners has ensured it will become a ME Program flagship activity in the future.