With the government spending billions on new defence equipment and creating a new high tech shipbuilding sector, what everyone involved needs are more engineers and skilled workers.
This problem is well recognised and it can’t be solved quickly. Defence companies are doing what they can to nurture student interest in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To that end Raytheon’s interactive traveling exhibition MathsAlive! has opened at Canberra with a series of hands on exhibits designed to make maths cool and interesting to school students.
“Raytheon Australia is inspiring the next generation of Australian engineers by supporting students through every step in their journey toward a STEM career – from primary school interaction and secondary school scholarships to university engagement – all the way through to employment,” Raytheon Australia Managing Director Michael Ward said.
MathsAlive! Has already travelled through the US and Middle East, encouraging young people to pursue a career in STEM by connecting to them through music, sports, movies and games. Showcasing the connection between maths and sport was paralympic snowboarder Joany Badenhorst, who lost a leg in a farming accident in South Africa at age 11.
“Maths is key to any successful paralympic snowboarder because you have to have the right equipment,”she said. “My prosthetic leg changes and the structure of it changes depending on the G-forces I create while I am snowboarding.”
“All this needs to be pre-calculated before I strap on a leg to strap on a snowboard. You have to have a basic understanding of your sport and the maths behind your sport.”
Raytheon Australia engineering staff executive Jessica Formica said MathsAlive! Allowed students to see the cool and fun side of STEM. “It takes it from the textbook and it makes it accessible. It shows how science, engineering, maths, technology is part of everyday life. It’s part of kids’ interests like music and sports,” she said.
Ms Formica said encouraging and nurturing an interest in STEM in primary students was key. That’s especially the case with young girls who decide on career pathways earlier than boys. “Hopefully they take that through high school into university and we build a workforce succession and pipeline to support future STEM needs,” she said.
Assistant Defence Minister Senator David Fawcett welcomed Raytheon’s ongoing commitment to engaging young Australians by helping them visualise what a career in science or engineering might look like.
“The Coalition Government’s $200 billion investment in new defence capability and the commitment to create a sustainable sovereign defence industry will require more young Australians to choose subjects and learning pathways that build on STEM and prepare them for careers in this high-tech national endeavour,” he said.