The Air Force has hosted its inaugural AIR4 event at Melbourne’s Luna Park, which aims to encourage young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies.
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The event saw over 1,400 female students and 80 teachers participating in interactive experiences, including driverless cars and HoloLens.
"AIR4 Life is an opportunity to positively change the status quo by giving young women the chance to be inspired by interactive and engaging activities taking place here today," said AIR4 founder and director, Regina Crameri.
Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne praised the way AIR4 engaged students in learning while also providing plenty of fun.
"Women represent only 16 per cent of STEM graduates across Australia. In order for Defence, and indeed the country, to get the very best capability, we need to have greater female participation in STEM subjects," Minister Pyne said.
"We may have the next aerospace inventor, satellite engineer, or a future fast jet pilot at the AIR4 event. For these girls, we see their future as limitless, and we would like them to see it that way too."
AIR4 was funded by the Defence, Science and Technology Group (DST) and the Royal Australian Air Force, and included six activities in its daily program.
“It’s great the students got to engage in exhibitions such as the Augmented and Virtual Reality, where participants could fly or watch a pre-recorded flight, wear protective equipment and helmets used by Defence personnel every day and test new wireless sensing systems,” Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo said.
The students were also given the opportunity to attend a screening of Jasper at St Kilda's Palais Theatre, which is a "cutting-edge animation made in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force and the University of Technology Sydney".
Jasper was created in collaboration with the RAAF, UTS Animal Logic Academy and the faculties of engineering and IT, and design, architecture and building at UTS, and won a gold award at the 2018 AEAF Festival in Sydney.
Jasper was inspired by Squadron Leader Jacqueline Killian, who voiced the main character and shared her personal story and career achievements at the AIR4 event.
AIR4 is hosting another event in late February, which focuses on the space industry. At the Avalon Air Show in 2019 (26-28 February), AIR4 Aerospace will bring "the next exciting chapter" in bringing STEM to students, and is accepting registrations for the event now.