FROM navigating a flight simulator, to tinkering on batteries and engaging with a robot, 400 students from public and private schools across Newcastle and the Hunter gathered for the 2023 Hunter School STEM Expo.
Held at the NEX on Monday, October 16, it was a chance for students in year 9 and 12 to explore career opportunities with local industry like Defence in Williamtown, Ampcontrol and the Port of Newcastle.
Year 9 Cooks Hill Campus student Jackson Bell, 15, said while he hasn't thought much about what he wants to do after school, the exhibition had opened his eyes.
"It's been very fun and there was one stall with circuitry which I liked. I like electronics so that's something I could see myself doing," he said.
Callaghan College Jesmond Campus year 11 student Sarah Dean said she enjoyed hearing how STEM could be used in different roles.
"I think it's really informative with all the little stands catering to each different interest. It's very eye-opening and it's been helpful to hear from TAFE and UON on what courses are needed to get into these careers," she said.
Ampcontrol capability development lead Lauren Hines said it was important to create employment pipelines with events like the expo and break down the stereotypes of STEM.
"We have work placements on offer while students are in school, apprenticeships, school-based apprenticeships and graduate and cadetships, so there's lot of opportunities for them to come in while they're learning and we try to capture them from there," she said.
"We get to show kids that there's lots of critical thinking and problem solving skills that we need to be able to solve some of the biggest problems we have in our industry."
Royal Australian Air Force flying officer and aerospace engineer Edwin Leadbeater said he hoped to inspire kids on the pathways they can take.
"I've been explaining a little bit about my role and some of the really cool things I've been able to do in my career and how I managed to get here," he said.
"We're giving out sponsorship program information on how students can get involved if they're interested."
Department of Education's Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) program organiser Gary Sewell said Newcastle and the Hunter was punching well above its weight in the science, technology, engineering and maths sector.
"We've got RAAF Williamtown, we've got Port of Newcastle ... but it's not spoken about in schools. Here we have 22 local employers who can show the kids what jobs are available and what they need to do to get there," he said.
"They get to have some real one-on-one time with the employers, who have been incredibly supportive."
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