AURC 2021 Announcement

The Australian Youth Aerospace Association (AYAA) team has been working hard to assess the feasibility of a 2021 Australian Universities Rocket Competition (AURC) in-person launch event.

The AYAA would like to extend an enormous thank you to ongoing supporters of the AURC; Defence Science and Technology Group, Australian Defence Business Review, Shoal Group, and MathWorks. Without the support of sponsors, the AURC would not be possible.

Head to the AURC website to view the full announcement on the 2021 competition:

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.

TAS State Representative – Max Allfree

Max Allfree

is currently in his third year studying at the University of Sydney, aspiring to become a pilot.

He says that the AYAA is a way to get much more involved. In his new role, he is striving to get the Tasmanian AYAA Committee up and running.

Systems Administrator – Rusty Blewitt

Rusty Blewitt

is a recent graduate of Griffith University completing a Bachelor of Computer Science.

His passion began when watching Interstellar at the cinemas in 2014 and has since been keeping an eye on the space sector.

In his undergraduate role Rusty was developing software, and is now working as a digital forensic practitioner. His goal within the AYAA is to promote, implement and secure the systems that the talented members utilise to make positive impacts on the aerospace industry.

Scholarships Coordinator – Luke Heffernan

Luke Heffernan

is a graduate of the University of Adelaide, completing a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours) and a Bachelor of Science.

His passion developed from realising the huge benefit for humanity that space related ventures can create.

Luke has multiple roles in various organisations, some include the Director at Adept and Operations Manager at Brainframe. He aspires to make Australia’s economy more complex and reduce wealth inequality through equipping the new generation with skills and passion for change. Luke’s goal within the AYAA is to ease the financial stresses of young professionals.

Astra Director – Meaghan Munro

Meaghan Munro

is currently undertaking her undergraduate Aerospace Engineering degree at Monash University and as a technical supervisor and demonstrator. She recently completed an internship at Gilmour Space Technologies.

She is also the founding team leader for Monash High Powered Rocketry, who finished second in the 30,000ft category of the AURC. In her spare time she enjoys watching musical theatre and dancing.