A drone display, bus tour around the construction site and a chance to hear industry experts share their career journeys were some of the activities offered to students during a recent site visit to Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport.
Western Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Simon Hickey, says the airport will be the catalyst for the creation of tens of thousands of high-quality jobs and opportunities across the region, in areas such as education, manufacturing, engineering and defence.
"We want to show our young people that these exciting career opportunities will be right on their doorstep in Western Sydney by the time they finish their studies," Simon says.
The Year 9 and 10 students also learnt about the career pathways in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) that the airport will create when it opens in late 2026.
"STEM CPP is very important because it brings together industry and education to highlight the careers available to students and how they can move into them," explains Kirsty O'Sullivan, CSIRO Generation STEM Team Leader. "These students are the next generation of leading innovators. They need to see the possibilities available to them."
Local opportunities for the next generation
The students also visited the Western Sydney International Experience Centre as part of the site visit. They were enthusiastic and found the digital experiences engaging and valuable.
"Today was interesting and exciting," says student Christina. "It's important for us to see STEM in the real world. STEM is key to the future of humanity and our development as a society."
Christina adds that she's excited about the future and is considering a STEM career.
Georgios, a student, also notes that it's been great to meet and hear from industry professionals. "I think STEM is crucial. It's how we move forward as a society. All the discoveries push the boundaries and help humanity achieve new scales," he says.
"It's been amazing to see such a great application of STEM at Western Sydney International Airport. It shows you how STEM is everywhere. It was also inspiring to see how you can take something you enjoy as a hobby like drone flying and make it a career," Georgios says.
There are now many opportunities for young people to get involved in STEM, whether through programs like STEM CPP, school, or by reaching out directly to the industry. The field is developing rapidly and will only continue to do so.
Lisa Greenlees, a Baulkham Hills High School Science Teacher, is participating in STEM CPP for the first time this year. She further adds that hands-on experiences are essential for students.
"They see these opportunities as a way of integrating their knowledge with what's happening around them. STEM CPP has also been crucial in showing schools and students the links between the different subject areas. So that science, technology, engineering and maths are brought together as one curriculum unit of work," she says.
Lisa also says that the link with the CSIRO has been phenomenal. It's given the students and teachers inspiration and the opportunity to visit places like the Western Sydney International Airport. "The future is looking bright for this generation of students," she says.
Investing in community
As Sydney's newest airport takes shape, Western Sydney students are perfectly positioned to take advantage of new job opportunities and career pathways opening up around Western Sydney International and be the next generation of leading innovators.
Once the airport is operational, at least half of all jobs will go to Western Sydney locals.
So far in 2022, STEM CPP has facilitated 27 site visits for schools to engage with industry and a further 13 are scheduled for the remainder of the year.
The program, part of the CSIRO's Generation STEM initiative, aims to inspire students to follow their passions in STEM.
It also connects high schools, teachers and students to local businesses and organisations, supporting the skills demand of current and emerging industries.
Students involved in the program are also working on an inquiry-based project to solve community challenges such as waste management and transport and will present their solutions at an end-of-year showcase event.