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Altitude Accord Scholarship Tour

Altitude Accord is a strategic partnership that was launched by Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA) in February to bring transformative developments to undergraduate curriculum at the University of Newcastle. The partnership with Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter and University of Newcastle is a commitment to creating genuine opportunities for Australian in regional centres and growing economic prosperity in regional Australia.

The ‘Altitude Accord’ supports the development of tailored and targeted initiatives to develop the future high-value skills of a new generation workforce. LMA has funded RDA Hunter to facilitate the ‘Altitude Accord’ with the University of Newcastle, which will see a investment of more than $40,000 over two years.

Specifically, the accord will deliver:

  • Scholarships for 10 University of Newcastle first year Aerospace Systems Engineering students to attend a fully-funded LMA education and research program tour of the STELaRLAB in Melbourne and Endeavour Centre in Canberra, and a tour of the Williamtown RAAF base.
  • LMA’s commitment to collaborating with the University of Newcastle on the curriculum design of the undergraduate aerospace degree.
  • Facilitation of closer working connections between the University of Newcastle and the STELaRLab based at Melbourne University.
  • Upcoming opportunities for a University lecture series featuring Lockeed Martin’s Australian and international industry experts.

Last month, the partnership announced the winners of the inaugural Altitude Accord Scholarship following a Glider Competition demonstration at the University of Newcastle’s Great Hall.

Three teams comprising Christopher Neal, Matthew Wheeler, Gerard Lazarus, Ian Whittall, Ashleigh Rattray, Tahlia West, Jennifer Johnston, Stephanie McManus, Jack Sulis, Toby Barry, Joshua Price and David Seddon were deemed winners following the competition, that saw 15 teams of 3-4 Aerospace Systems Engineering students design, construct and fly gliders. The 70 strong cohort competed for the coveted Scholarship Tour prize that entitles each of the three winning groups to join a four-day visit to LMA sites in Victoria and the ACT this week.

To learn more about Matthew and Jennifer, two of the dozen students on the tour, read their stories below:

Matthew Wheeler

Matthew Wheeler, Partner Teagan and son Ollie

Tell me about yourself? (Name, how old you are, where are you from, what your interests are, etc.)

My name is Matthew Wheeler, I am 32 years old and I grew up in Tasmania. I moved to the Hunter region for work as I am employed by the RAAF at Williamtown. I have a partner, an 8yr old son and we are expecting our second child later this year. My interests outside of work are RC aircraft, mountain biking and playing around with electronics such as Arduino and Raspberry pi.

What motivated you to study your degree/major?

I initially started studying a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at UTAS when I first left school, but quickly decided that study wasn’t for me and joined the RAAF. I have spent 10 years as an aircraft technician in the RAAF, working on Boeing F/A -18F and F/A-18A/B Hornets. I have always had an interest in engineering and aviation always intended to return to study at some point. When I started looking at study options, I found UON had begun offering the Aerospace Systems degree, given my professional work experience and interests this degree program was just what I was looking for.

What do you enjoy most about your degree?

I most enjoy the challenge of learning new skills and then applying them to problems such as the UON ENGG1500 aerospace systems major project. The hands-on approach to learning in ENGG 1500 makes the experience much more enjoyable.

In your own words, what is the future of Aerospace Systems Engineering?

I believe the future for aerospace systems engineering will be driven by the need to develop better solutions around air transport, advancements in electrical storage technology has seen a rise in electrically powered aircraft development and with time will hopefully see electric flight becoming a commercially viable option on small and large scale.

What are you most looking forward to about the Altitude Accord scholarship tour? What do you hope to get out of the tour?

I most look forward to touring LMA facilities and meeting people working on projects such as the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. Having worked in military aircraft maintenance I hope to gain a bit more understanding of the background planning and engineering conducted by the manufacturer that is required to implement and sustain operations of aircraft like the F-35A.

What would you like to do once you complete your degree?

My aim when I complete this degree is to have a career where I can combine my interest in full scale aviation and RC aviation by working on unmanned aerial vehicle projects.

Jennifer Johnston

Jennifer Johnston

Tell me about yourself? (Name, how old you are, where are you from, what your interests are, etc.)

My name is Jennifer Johnston, I am 18 years old and I am from Newcastle. I am currently studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Newcastle. When I complete my degree, my goal is to become a Satellite Engineer. In my spare time, when I’m not studying, I’m a dancer and love to travel.

What motivated you to study your degree/major?

The motivation behind my choice to study Aerospace Engineering was a fascination with space and space craft in my early high school years. In year 10 I was encouraged through STEM subjects to pursue a career in engineering, which has led me to where I am today.

What do you enjoy most about your degree?

The most enjoyable part of my degree is the hands-on problem-solving aspect. Being given real-world problems and having to find a solution introduces the engineering career characteristics early on in our degree.

In your own words, what is the future of Aerospace Systems Engineering?

I believe the future of Aerospace Systems Engineering involves the increase in air and space travel, maybe even as a form of public transport. Aerospace engineers may be the leaders in new emerging technologies that lead to interspace travel and quicker more efficient transport.

What are you most looking forward to about the Altitude Accord scholarship tour?

On the Altitude Accord Scholarship, I’m looking forward to meeting and connecting with engineers and professionals in the aerospace industry and getting further insight into the current and future projects that our degree graduates may be involved in in the future.