Future shines bright for women in naval shipbuilding engineering
The National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise is helping to transform the perception of careers in engineering for women.
As more people become aware of the thousands of new career opportunities available across Australia within the naval shipbuilding industry, in-demand engineering roles are enjoying a higher profile – across all genders.
Chief Executive of the Naval Shipbuilding College Ian Irving said industry was committed to creating and sustaining a world-leading workforce which reflects Australian society.
“The Naval Shipbuilding College is committed to enhancing the educational and career pathway opportunities for women to join the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise,’’ he said.
“The Naval Shipbuilding College’s National Workforce Register includes more than 14% females, which is above the industry average and our goal is to continually increase this percentage.’’
The College, in collaboration with ASC Pty Ltd, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, bought together current Mechanical Engineer Melissa Weston and mechanical engineering undergraduate Nicola Higgins at the Osborne Naval Shipyards to share their respective journeys.
Melissa, 26, has worked ASC Pty Ltd for the past five years as a Mechanical Engineer, primarily working on the Collins Class Submarines, after completing her degree with the University of Adelaide in 2015.
In her year level there were only a handful of women who were also studying Mechanical Engineering.
“It never bothered me personally that there were so few women undertaking the course because I always believed I could achieve as much as anyone else, if I applied myself and did the work,’’ she said.
“But I felt there were a lot of young women who were finishing high school without even considering engineering as a potential career.
“After finishing my degree I was lucky enough to undertake a Graduate Program with ASC which is where I discovered I my passion for the naval shipbuilding industry and I’ve been here ever since.
“Every day at work I was learning something new, I was being challenged and as a result I became more and more skilled, almost without realising it.
“In terms of gender balance, my work place reflected my time at university, there are not a lot of women in my role.
“But that’s just the reality at the moment. I don’t let it define me or influence anything I do. My co-workers are very supportive and are always willing to provide advice and share their expertise so I can continually improve.
“My advice for young women is to keep an open mind to all the possibilities out there and have the courage to pursue what they are passionate about.
“Find your support network, ask questions and remember that you are strong enough to be ambitious and define your career.
“There are women out in the engineering industry like me who have taken the next step.’’
Twenty-year-old Nicola is in the third year of a Mechanical Engineering degree with University of South Australia and recounts a similar theme to Melissa.
“At the moment there are four women in my year level who are studying the same degree as me,’’ she said.
“When I was at high school there wasn’t a focus highlighting pathways for young women into an engineering career and I think that carries over into why there aren’t a lot more women choosing to take on a degree at university. If it wasn’t for my mathematics teacher talking to me about the possibilities of engineering I wouldn’t have known anything about it.
“He was really helpful in getting me interested in engineering and the more I investigated it, the more passionate I became about wanting to work in this field.
“It would have been nice to have had a role model or someone else who could share their experiences in this field. But it in the end that just made me more determined to succeed.
“I am a member of the Women in STEM club at UniSA and I hope I can become a role model for other young women considering a career in engineering.’’
Register for ‘Women in Engineering and Shipbuilding’, a free webinar on 24 June 2020. Melissa, along with speakers from the Naval Shipbuilding College will provide insight into the opportunities for women in engineering and shipbuilding and discuss what led them to be a part of the National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise.
Register now: https://kapara.rdbk.com.au/landers/75f770.html