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Indigenous women show strength in engineering

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Curtin University’s second Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS) has attracted a record number of young Aboriginal women from around Australia to experience one-week of engineering activities on the Bentley campus.

Seven female Aboriginal students, in the group of 20, lived on campus and took part in hands-on laboratories, site visits, information seminars and opportunities to network with industry, particularly within the WA mining and resources sector.

IAESS Program Manager, Larissa Andrews, said it was very encouraging to see the increase in numbers of female participants, up from three last year, demonstrating a new enthusiasm among young women for learning about engineering.

“It is particularly encouraging to have seven young Aboriginal women among the IAESS participants this year as we are always trying to attract more women to the engineering profession which has traditionally been a male-dominated field,” Ms Andrews said.

With activities including building circuits, making polymer products and programming robots to carry out logic-based accuracy tasks, Ms Andrews said students had a great opportunity to experience and work in Curtin’s state-of-the-art facilities.

“The students also learned about renewable energy and humanitarian engineering projects, including Engineers without Borders Australia, as well as visiting the RAAF Air Base and BP Kwinana Refinery,” she said.

Ms Andrews said the concluding graduation dinner, attended by special guest and award-presenter, Governor General Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC, provided an excellent opportunity for students to network with key industry people.

“Industry sponsors of the program including Woodside Energy, BHP Billiton and Wesfarmers, commented on the calibre of participants and expressed hope that they pursue an engineering education and subsequently become engineers within their organisations,” she said.

Dean of Engineering, Professor Moses Tade, said IAESS was a fantastic opportunity to provide typically under-represented Aboriginal students with the opportunity to enhance their passion and talent in the field.

“We want to provide the platform for these young students to achieve as much as possible through engineering experience and practice,” Professor Tade said.

“The summer school not only allows them to engage with their interest in a supportive environment, but exposes them to key industry people and places to hopefully open doors to a promising future career in engineering.”

The IAESS, an initiative of Engineering Aid Australia, aims to provide an opportunity for Aboriginal students with ability and interest in science and mathematics to discover the benefits of a career in engineering, and facilitate a supportive pathway for them, into the engineering profession.


Larissa Andrews, Curtin Engineering Outreach Coordinator
Tel: 08 9266 7884, Email:  

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4241, Mobile: 0401 103 755, Email:  


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