College News

Rocketing Girls into STEM Jobs

300 Ipswich female secondary students will be celebrating Queensland Women’s Week in spectacular style, building and launching rockets more than 100 metres in the air.

Students from surrounding schools will be invited to St Mary’s College Ipswich to participate in the Girls in Aerospace STEM Day, organised by Queensland Rocketry Society and STEM education provider It’s Rocket Science Adventures. The group will comprise 200 students from St Mary’s, with the remaining students invited from neighbouring schools.

The event aims to use flight and space science to inspire female leadership and participation in STEM careers, particularly in the aviation and aerospace sectors which are forecast to grow rapidly with Australia’s involvement in NASA’s Moon to Mars program. The event will be opened by the Honorable Di Farmer MP, Queensland Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women who will launch the first water rocket of the day giving students their first taste at the exciting potential of rocket science to launch STEM careers. State member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard will also be in attendance.

As well as gaining an introduction to aerospace theory and advanced rocketry, students will have the opportunity to ask questions of an all-female panel of aviation and aerospace professionals, including RAAF Pilot Mel Russell, UQ Aerospace Engineer Isabelle Fleming and the Queensland Minister for Science, Leeanne Enoch.

The event was made possible through a Queensland Women’s Week grant awarded to the Queensland Rocketry Society who are running the Girls in Aerospace STEM Day in partnership with It’s Rocket Science Adventures.
Member of Queensland Rocketry Society, Petar Nikolic said that the event was a great way to promote rocketry and STEM careers for young women, saying, “Sally Ride, the first US woman in space, said ‘Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.’
“Getting hands-on with the rockets and talking to people who live and breathe aerospace is a fantastic opportunity for these young women,” said Mr Nikolic.

It’s Rocket Science Adventures Founder Cran Middlecoat, who is himself an airline pilot, praised the work of leading female CEOs in aerospace for inspiring young women to pursue STEM based careers. “People like Carley Scott, Megan Clarke and Lisa Harvey-Smith are doing great things to inspire girls to pursue aerospace careers, but at the moment, only 6% of pilots are women, while fields such as maintenance engineers see even smaller female participation,” said Mr Middlecoat.

“Flight and space science is not just for the boys—that’s why our school programs and events such as these are so important—they create career pathways and show how the science, technology, engineering and maths curriculum can open doors for some really exciting possibilities.”

As member of the Queensland Government’s Aerospace Gateway to Industry Schools program, St Mary’s College Ipswich was seen as the ideal school to host the event. College Principal Judith Finan said, “As a new Aerospace Gateway to Industry School, we have introduced vocational pathways including a Certificate III in aviation and Certificate II in Engineering,” said Ms Finan.
“In advocating for young women in the Science, Mathematics, Technologies and Engineering fields, the College is committed to sourcing pathway opportunities where our girls will be valued and situated well for success.”