Crocodile handling may seem to be a skill with limited applications but aspiring Indigenous engineer, Karl Dank, thinks his ability will be a help when it comes to pursuing the job of his dreams.

Karl, 16, from Darwin in the Northern Territory, is one of 20 Indigenous high school students from around Australia visiting UNSW this week as part of the 13th Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS).

Karl, who is also an Air Force Cadet, was interested to learn about Aerospace Engineering at the Summer School because of a long-standing interest in flying.

Back home, Karl is starting Year 11 at Darwin High School and also works at a local crocodile farm, taking care of crocs which can be up to 5m long and weigh more than half a tonne.

"I handle them, move them around, catch them and sometimes cut the grass in their pens. A few times I've had to jump out and run," he said.

"It's a good way to build my confidence in getting jobs."

The IAESS, hosted by UNSW, aims to introduce more Indigenous students to engineering and address the under-representation of Indigenous graduates in the profession. In 2008, only 16 of more than 6,000 engineering and technology graduates nationwide were from Indigenous backgrounds.

UNSW Dean of Engineering, Professor Graham Davies, said the IAESS helped Indigenous students learn about a field that offers tremendous career opportunities.

"The Summer School is an important way to get more Indigenous students studying engineering and give students from regional and remote locations exposure to what a career in engineering can offer," Professor Davies said.

The 16 male and four female students, all aged from 15 to 17, are from NSW, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory, including two students from Nhulunbuy in remote Arnhem Land.

During their week at UNSW, they are experiencing university life in new student accommodation, attending information sessions around the Faculty of Engineering and visiting locations around Sydney including the BlueWater desalination plant at Kurnell and the Garden Island naval base.

The Summer School concludes with a graduation dinner with IAESS patron and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and a reception at Government House with NSW Governor, Professor Marie Bashir.

Media contact: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 |