Drone program opens new career flight path for students

The Army Drone Racing Team has joined forces with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Sir Lawrence Wackett Defence and Aerospace Centre (SLWDAC) to deliver a program aimed at inspiring young women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Thirty Year 9-12 secondary school students spent some of their school holidays participating in the inaugural RMIT Girls in Aerospace and Defence program at the RMIT Bundoora Campus.

They were immersed in a drone program, during which the students built, coded and flew their own drones.

Year 10 student Adiba said it was an exciting and rewarding experience.

Having arrived in Australia from Afghanistan in 2022, Adiba is a player with Melbourne Victory Football Club and was participating in a three-month English language course when she saw an advertisement for the program.

“I was very excited when my application was accepted. I have learnt so much from the Army Drone Racing Team and the RMIT staff, as well as getting an insight into what a career in this field could look like,” Adiba said.

“I am excited to be able to finish my school studies here in Melbourne, and I hope to pursue a career in a STEM-related field.”

RMIT SLWDAC innovation curator Jo Zimpel said the response from applicants was overwhelming.

“Interest in the program has been incredible, and the students are so enthusiastic,” Dr Zimpel said.

“We are planning to run another two courses this year because of the large number of applicants we have had and the success of this program.”

Captain of the Army Drone Racing Team, Sapper Alex Brown, was impressed by the progress and level of knowledge the students picked up in just a few days.

“It has been quite inspiring to see this group of young women getting involved with drone building, coding and problem-solving,” Sapper Brown said.

“Before the course, most had never used a soldering iron before and now they are building and repairing drones on their own.

“The Army Drone Racing Team tries to engage as many young people as we can, to demonstrate how much fun there is in drone racing, and also the huge potential for the future of STEM fields.”

Defence image: Sapper Alex Brown helps Year 10 student Adiba to code her drone at RMIT’s Girls in Aerospace and Defence program in Bundoora.

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