Partnership opens doors to STEM careers for Top End students

This article has photo gallery Published on Kim Parkinson (author), CPO Tony Thomas (author)

Location(s): HMAS Coonawarra. NT

Topic(s): HMAS Coonawarra, Work Experience Program

(L-R) Saba Malese, Dray Thompson, Jonathon Sattler, Daniel Thomson and Don James of Casuarina Senior College with Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Kaumi Bon. (photo: CPO Tony Thomas)
(L-R) Saba Malese, Dray Thompson, Jonathon Sattler, Daniel Thomson and Don James of Casuarina Senior College with Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Kaumi Bon.

Six high school students got a hands-on understanding of what life is like in the Royal Australian Navy during a week of work experience at HMAS Coonawarra in Darwin.

Highlights of the week for the Year 11 and 12 students from Casuarina Senior College included visiting Navy patrol boats to learn how they operate at sea, and observing a ship undock from the hardstand to the water. The students also used a laser cutter and computer technology to create nameplates for some of the patrol boats.

Student Daniel Thomson said he hadn’t considered a career in the Navy – until now. He’d taken part in the week of work experience just hoping to “learn new things, meet new people and get an insight into what happens in the Navy.”

“The experience has changed my mind in a positive way, because now I have an insight into what goes on. I learnt about the different types of careers and different skills in the Navy, such as being reliable and respectful,” Daniel said. 

The work experience program is part of a partnership between Navy, Northern Territory industry and the College, to encourage young people to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields.

The partnership focuses on high achieving young people as well as those from groups under-represented in STEM, such as Indigenous youth, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women.

Fleet Support Unit–North’s Regional Manager, Lieutenant Commander Sarah Eddes, supports activities for the students during their week of work experience at HMAS Coonawarra.

The Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer said the partnership gives participants the opportunity to discover an interest they may never knew they had.

“We allow the students to get away from their textbooks and involve them in practical, hands-on jobs that show them how fun and rewarding a career in the STEM fields can be,” Lieutenant Commander Eddes said.