Fresh out of school and with a desire to pursue an engineering career, Hunter Blake-Smith carefully weighed up his tertiary study options.
His area of interest was the growing field of aeronautical engineering.
The Coffs Harbour local considered several well-established degrees before taking a punt on the University of Newcastle's newly established Bachelor aerospace systems engineering.
"The degree looked exciting and offered this new perspective on aeronautical engineering," he said.
"I really liked the system focus of the degree rather than the structural and propulsion (focus) that other degrees had."
Mr Blake-Smith will be among the first cohort of students to graduate from the degree next year.
And like other engineering graduates, their employment prospects are extremely high.
Pro Vice Chancellor of engineering and built environment Professor Brett Ninness said the four year aerospace engineering degree, established in response to demand from business and students, had been a major success story.
Significantly, it had not reduced demand for the university's other engineering degrees.
"Industry said they didn't want us copy what they do at the University of Sydney - employers knew where to find that type of graduate. What they wanted was people who understand systems engineering," he said.
"Our degree has a different focus; it's bespoke to what Williamtown businesses said they wanted. That's led to it having a unique flavour."
Another key feature of the degree is its research partnerships with companies such as Boeing.
Mr Blake-Smith said the degree had exceeded his expectations.
"I was a bit tentative because it was a new degree but I think they have done a fantastic job. They are using our feedback to really drive it forward."
BAE Systems Australia's director of aircraft sustainment and training Andrew Chapman said increasing numbers of aerospace engineering graduates would be needed to sustain the Hawk Lead in Fighter and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Williamtown.
"Maintaining and sustaining the F-35 will create around 360 new direct jobs for BAE Systems Australia over the next 10 years - many of which will be roles for engineers and technicians," he said.
"I hope many of those roles will be secured by graduates from the University of Newcastle.
"Through our collaboration with the university, local students can see where a career in engineering might take them through internships, work experience and graduate opportunities."