New Zealand’s engineering sector is expanding rapidly; however, a pipeline of future talent will be needed to meet its innovation needs and respond to the shortfall of talent that can emerge as the result of engineers retiring or relocating oversees.
That’s where Leonardo comes in – a team of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) ambassadors are providing a direct industrial link and sharing real-world experiences that can support New Zealand school students, like Otago Girls' High School, to understand why engineering can offer them stimulating roles that offer fresh challenges every day and exciting technologies to work with as a long-term career.
This November, in support of the Southland and Otago Regional Engineering Collective (SOREC) Academy launched in February this year, a team of STEM Ambassadors from Leonardo’s helicopters division are providing interactive STEM sessions across schools in Dunedin, Invercargill, and Queenstown. The STEM activities that schools engage in are designed to give an insight into the broad range of careers available.
These include working as a team to make design decisions in order to define a New Zealand search and rescue helicopter, solving an avionics design task, and finally a hands on model life raft building task.
The collaboration between the SOREC Academy and Leonardo resulted from a recognition on both sides of a shared vision that the STEM shortfall is a global issue, with the demand showing no signs of fading. This is just one reason why a selection of STEM careers can position NZ students into an advantageous position globally.
For Leonardo, STEM careers are important because it provides future skills for the next generation, which can provide future operators and maintainers of its platforms.
Mike Collins, CEO of Business South, stated: “Manufacturing and Engineering are vital industries for the Otago and Southland economy, so it is great to see programs like this engaging with schools to ensure the future workforce in these areas.”
James Bracewell, Skills Partnership Manager at SOREC, said: “One of our roles at SOREC is to provide pathways and opportunities for people to enter the Manufacturing and Engineering sector, where we have outstanding companies all across Southland and Otago. The engaging STEM sessions introduce ideas and concepts that help inspire students of all backgrounds to explore the industry further. A huge thank you to the Leonardo team for their efforts in helping work with our young people and providing them with these learning opportunities.”
Tara Crees, Avionics Engineering Graduate at Leonardo Helicopters, commented: “It was great to see the students’ enthusiasm and ingenious ways of problem-solving as a team. The activities we have explored around helicopter engineering, with the students, has enabled them to develop new ways of thinking, and presented them with a different perspective to career opportunities in the engineering sector through the SOREC Academy.”