Scholarship Catalyst for Change

We take a look at some of the recipients of our 2020 joint scholarships with Raytheon Australia to see how the scholarship is helping them achieve their dreams

2020 Scholarship recipient, Taj Wedutenko, participating in an activity at AYAF 2019

Aerospace, it’s a domain that has always inspired people to strive for the impossible. Even now as we turn our eyes towards settling Mars, we are continuously captivated by the dream of soaring in the sky and beyond. It is this passion that drives the Australian Youth Aerospace Association’s (AYAA) vision: “to have Australia’s youth become catalysts for change in the aerospace industry”.

In the spirit of this, in 2020 we were very proud to award scholarships in partnership with Raytheon Australia to support 20 young people in Australia through financial and mentoring support as they launch their aerospace careers. We are very proud to share some of their experiences.

With the nature of Australia’s large size and sparse population, many young people have little to no access to opportunities to engage with aerospace, ultimately reducing their chance of pursuing careers in the industry. Based in Western Australia, scholarship recipient Sarah Henbury states that, “the major challenge I have faced is that aerospace engineering is not offered at any of the universities here in WA”, and went on to say, “I was very excited when I heard about this program as having a mentor would give me access to firsthand information about the aerospace industry”.

With the implications of the global pandemic, many who traditionally may have had access to aerospace opportunities were also not able to anymore. Taj Wedutenko, a delegate of the 2019 Australian Youth Aerospace Forum (AYAF) and current AYAA volunteer within both the NSW and Aerospace Futures Conference Committees, noted how chances to get involved became harder to come by. Because of his previous experiences with the AYAA, he knew he couldn’t miss out on this scholarship opportunity.

Each scholarship recipient was awarded $1,000, thanks to Raytheon Australia, to support them in their endeavour to become Australia’s next aerospace leaders. Many recipients are planning to invest their money in developing their own skill sets or to better equip themselves for university life. Others, however, wish to use it to further grow STEM in Australia. Simone Spisiak wants to use the funds to assist in, “writing and publishing a guidebook for teachers in Australia about the significance of implementing STEM programs in primary and secondary education systems”. She believes that early exposure to STEM plays a critical role in encouraging more people to participate in STEM careers later in life. This comes from her own experience where she didn’t set foot in a science lab until year 7 and then decided to implement a science club at her school due to the lack of co-curricular activities that promoted engagement in STEM.

For some of the recipients, much of the value of these scholarships comes not from the financial benefits, but rather the opportunity for mentorship from both Raytheon Australia and the AYAA. Simone Spisiak explained that she has, “always made it a priority to extend upon my personal development”, and hopes, “that my mentor will push me in this program”. Overall the mentorship program aims to help the scholarship recipients to develop their professional skill set and industry knowledge to better prepare them to enter their future career.

The AYAA has always aimed to help pave the way for young people in Australia to become catalysts for change in the aerospace industry, and the 2020 scholarship program, with the assistance of Raytheon Australia, has helped ensure the aerospace leaders of tomorrow are being prepared to take on future challenges and endeavours today.