by Kate O’Mara

Lockheed Martin Australia (LMA), Regional Development Australia (RDA) Hunter and the University of Newcastle this week re-ignited their successful alliance, The Altitude Accord. The three-way partnership was established in late 2018 to raise the skills base of the Hunter’s future workforce and ignite student interest in STEM careers in the defence industry.

Altitude Accord engages University of Newcastle students in activities that address real-world industry problems and that give them direct access to LMA people, sites and partners.

The latest COVID-safe addition to the Altitude Accord suite of career-inspiring activities saw undergraduate engineering students treated to a virtual lecture series presented by Lockheed Martin Australia engineers working on leading-edge defence programs including the Future Submarine Program, and simulated training system for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pilot Training.

Engineers Weetek Foo and Richard Yeng (supported by Daniel Tucker) and David Harrison, each presented an hour-long guest lecture aimed at informing and motivating the 100 first, second and third year participating students. They covered such topics as system of systems engineering; ship/air integration; the challenges of large-scale systems; hardware engineering in Defence; and engineering software design. They highlighted LMA’s national and international defence industry projects, they uncovered the breadth of engineering career opportunities associated with those projects and they discussed the development of important transferrable skills. Daniel also added detail about applying for LMA’s two-year graduate program and reiterated the value of transferrable skills, explaining that because challenges and constraints are consistent across business streams and projects, adaptable skills allow their workforce to transition.

Additionally, the LMA engineers talked generously about their own careers and their passion for engineering. Students heard about Weetek’s design and analysis work on the F1-11, F-18, C130 Hercules, Bushmaster and rocket launchers, while Richard spoke about his graduate experience in LMA’s Future Submarines Program and his role in multidisciplinary teams with reach-across to the USA. And, UK born David’s international career journey that started with designing experimental aircraft and moved into flight control, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) interoperability, sea/air integration, F-35 JSF systems engineering and which now sees him based in Melbourne as LMA’s RAAF Pilot Training System Chief Engineer was inspiring.

University of Newcastle second year Aerospace Systems Engineering student and inaugural Altitude Accord Scholarship Tour winner Ian Whittall attended the lectures. He said, “The lecture series was awesome! Having the opportunity to hear directly from people like this is really encouraging – it helps us understand the engineering jobs that are available, especially here in Newcastle (Hunter). I was lucky enough to earn a spot on the Altitude Accord Scholarship Tour last year as well and I really appreciate the opportunities that the University and Lockheed Martin Australia are working on for us. I hope there’s more like them next year.”

And more opportunities there will be according to RDA Hunter’s Director of Regional Development and Executive Officer, Mr Trevor John. He said, “We really enjoyed bringing LMA engineers and University of Newcastle students together through this new lecture series in 2020. We have been working for many years to build an industry-skilled workforce in the Hunter and projects like the Altitude Accord help us achieve this. We look forward to continuing the partnership in the future.”

LMA’s Chief Engineer – RAAF Pilot Training System, David Harrison said, “As well as the lecture series, I was involved in LMA’s STELaRLab (short for Science, Technology, Engineering Leadership and Research Laboratory) component of the Altitude Accord scholarship tour last year. Programs like this are invaluable. Studying engineering is intense, so being able to provide real-world context and motivate students with stories about its phenomenal contribution is really rewarding. I love my job and the opportunities it has provided me and I’m passionate about sharing my experiences to help inspire a future generation of engineers. The Altitude Accord is a perfect vehicle to facilitate this.”

Joe North, Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive said, “We are delighted to be supporting The Altitude Accord again in 2020. The partnership provides LMA with the opportunity to engage directly with engineering students and play a role in supporting them to become industry-ready for future career pathways in Defence Industry. We’re able to showcase the career opportunities available in the Hunter which helps us build regional capability and a homegrown highly-skilled sovereign workforce.”

“We’re looking forward to adding more site visits and hands-on experiences for students as part of the Altitude Accord partnership when face-to-face activities resume in 2021.”

According to RDA Hunter’s Chair, Mr John Turner, RDA Hunter has a strong and long-term focus on building a skilled workforce to support the Hunter’s defence industry.

“We are very pleased to facilitate The Altitude Accord partnership with Lockheed Martin Australia and the University of Newcastle. This year’s new lectures series and other industry-led activities give students unique opportunities to engage with industry leaders and better understand pathways to long-term career opportunities in the Hunter.” Mr Turner continued.

University of Newcastle’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Professor Brett Ninness, said his Faculty is very appreciative of the time and effort LMA engineers committed to the new lecture series.

“Weetek, David, Daniel and Richard’s insights and generous contributions are very much appreciated by the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment academic staff and students.

“Our engineering undergraduates find direct interaction with industry experts an extremely valuable and enjoyable addition to their regular programs. Real-world examples of the theory they’re learning add context and relevance for students and prove inspiring and motivating. We’re looking forward to building on our partnership with Lockheed Martin Australia and creating more opportunities for our students to interact with its industry leaders.”


Media Enquiries:

Kate O’Mara

RDA Hunter’s Director, Special Projects

0412 303 744