The defence industry is one of Australia’s biggest employers of engineers – developing cutting-edge technology away from the frontline.
Future submarines, Joint Strike Fighter jets and Hawkei armoured vehicles are just some of the exciting defence projects in Australia right now – and engineers are in high demand to make them happen.
Joyce Mau, a research engineer with Defence Science and Technology (DST) – an organisation within Australia’s Department of Defence – says she didn’t set out to work in defence but became intrigued at her university’s career fair. “The technology being showcased looked so impressive back then and it is even more so now,” she says.
Defence is a booming area for technology advances in areas such as advanced threat detection through laser and radar technology, blast-proof materials, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles.
Initially hesitant to study engineering, Joyce began at ANU with a Bachelor of Science and later added a Bachelor of Engineering (research and development) after trying out an engineering course during her first semester.
“I always thought I didn’t have the talent to design things,” she says. “But I learned designing is a mixture of coming up with ways to improve your piece of technology, as well as trying out other people’s ideas on a different technology and seeing if it works on yours.”
Joyce now works on technology called Single Photon Avalanche Diode cameras. These cameras will be attached to undersea drones to capture capture detailed, images of underwater objects.
Many engineering degrees and specialisations are relevant to defence, including mechanical and industrial, electrical and electronic, aerospace, marine and software. And engineers wanting to work for the defence force or defence industries have lots of opportunities, whichever specialisation they choose.
There’s plenty of employment opportunities for engineers within the Australian Defence Force and the broader defence industry, too. Plus, trades and TAFE options that can kickstart your defence career. The options are endless.
– Claire Harris
What degrees should I study?
What jobs could I get?
Electrical engineer: $49K–$83K
Marine engineer: $46K–$91K
Aerospace engineer: $51K–$98K
Meet more defence engineers
These three engineering graduates work on a range of diverse projects at DST – check out their profiles to find out why engineering roles in defence involve much more than military aircraft, tanks or submarines…
Although formally trained as an engineer, Tom Fahy landed a pretty unique gig. Using statistics and data analytics to uncover insights, Tom’s multi-disciplinary role sees him working in large-scale teams on assignments that directly impact defence as an industry.
Space systems engineer Monique Hollick currently works with not one, but two satellites. She and her team are gaining crucial knowledge about the space environment and how to improve radar technology.
Daniel Butler took his childhood love of Lego, aeroplane models and puzzles and turned it into a career. He’s now a hydrodynamicist working on the Navy’s $90 billion future submarine and frigate programs with DST.
Find out Daniel’s research into hydrodynamics is used on submarine and ship designs, plus the travels his experiments have taken him on.
Author: STEM Contributor
This article was written by a STEM Contributor for Careers with STEM. To learn more, please visit our contact page.