Women take flight in male-dominated industry

Women take flight in male-dominated industry

With women comprising only one percent of the total number of aircraft engineers in New Zealand, events designed to recognise their skills are vital.
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Shar Illingworth is one of the students who has completed their New Zealand Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering

Shar Illingworth, 21 (pictured), Georgia Gray, 18 and Devon Gardner, 22 are all women who have either completed or are currently training for their New Zealand Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering(external link) at Te Pūkenga NMIT.

The group got together at the annual New Zealand Association of Women in Aviation (NZAWA) rally in Taranaki recently, the first time in the association’s 62-year history that an event for aeronautical engineers was included.

Margaret Wright, association president, said there were four aircraft engineers competing in events and was confident these numbers will grow in the future.

Georgia, originally from Auckland, became interested in the engineering trade after being accepted into a ‘School to Skies’ camp.

She gets along well with all her fellow students and since there isn’t heaps of them on the programme, Georgia said it’s easier to communicate with each other and the tutors.

“I do actually feel like I am part of a team here at NMIT,” she said.

Fellow classmate, Shar Illingworth, having spent a year working in the industry, has found that she really enjoys the hands-on maintenance side of things.

“It’s so hands on and it’s so interactive,” she said. “You learn so much [during the programme] from tutors and people in the industry.”

Both women recommend the two-year programme, recognising there is a shortage of engineers in New Zealand, particularly females.

“I would say go for it, it’s a great opportunity,” said Shar. “Women within aviation is such a great association and there’s so much support out there for women trying to get into such a male dominated industry.”

Te Pūkenga NMIT has several scholarships available for anyone looking to cover fees and course related costs to study aeronautical engineering.

The Zonta Club Marlborough Scholarship and the New Zealand Aviation Federation Scholarship both invite women enrolled in the programme to apply.

See our scholarships page(external link) for more information.

To learn more about Aeronautical Engineering at Te Pūkenga NMIT, visit our website(external link).

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