Aeronautical Engineering, UNSW Canberra at ADFA

ADFA – the Australian Defence Force Academy – doesn’t often spring to mind when considering your future university studies. But there are lots of reasons why you should consider studying engineering at ADFA, particularly in what is a really exciting time for women in the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

1. Teacher-student engagement

UNSW Canberra has the highest teacher to student ratio in Australian higher education. Our lecturers and tutors pretty much know us all by name and getting in touch with them is as simple as knocking on their office door, meaning you get great feedback and engagement in all your classes.

2. Great opportunities for career progression

The opportunities for career progression across all three services – the Army, Navy and Air Force – are extensive. For example, the Navy will have a female head of Navy Engineering, Rear Admiral Kath Richards, from December 2020. There is also a new female Director-General of Engineering in Navy (Commodore Rachel Durbin) and Director Training Authority – Engineering (Captain Cass Ryan). This is the first time in the Navy's history that these three pivotal roles have been held by women at the same time.

For the Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts, an Aerospace Engineer by training, was appointed as the inaugural Head of Air Force Capability in 2019. This is a senior executive role within the Air Force that everyone can aspire to, not just pilots who typically hold the senior positions

3. A broad range of skill development

As a Trainee Officer (AKA student) at ADFA, you don't just attend university lectures, but also participate in Joint Military Education Training. This training gives you a broad spectrum of valuable transferable skills such as leadership, communication and people and project management, making ADFA graduates very well-rounded, with great employment opportunities outside of the Defence Force.

4. Exposure to cutting-edge technology

UNSW Canberra has unique, state-of-the-art facilities and resources such as a hypersonics laboratory and one of Australia’s largest unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) flight laboratories. In addition to being exposed to the facilities during life at the academy, the opportunity for paid work experience within the ADF gives students access to fascinating technologies such as fast jets, submarines and highly advanced communications systems.

5. Networking opportunities

During your time studying at the academy, there are many opportunities to expand your network through university academics or within the ADF. Outside of guaranteed work experience, there are numerous mentoring nights, including women-only events that allow you to engage with other female engineering professionals, including those in your desired job role.

6. Get paid to study

Through university and allows you to focus on your studies. There are also scholarship opportunities at UNSW Canberra for students who wish to study without joining the military. Last but not least, as a Trainee Officer at ADFA you are paid a full-time salary to study your degree. This removes a lot of the pressure of having to support yourself with a job.

By Officer Cadet Imogen Laing