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Aaron Powter

High School Engineering Teacher

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Aaron started his professional life at age 15 undertaking an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic. This experience made him realised he had a love of hands-on engineering, which led him on a journey to go to University and get qualified as a high school teacher, so he could pass on his passion to the next generation of engineers and technical tradies.

Tell us a bit about yourself & how you got to where you are today?

I was born and raised on the Gold Coast, Queensland. In 1983 I was indentured into a 4-year mechanical apprenticeship under Mr. Stuart Proud in Oxenford. It was an excellent workplace that provided me with a wide range of experiences such as cars, trucks, tractors, fabrication, and some machining.

Upon finishing my apprenticeship, I left to work at other various workshops both local and interstate. I eventually ended up at Dreamworld Theme park working as a maintenance fitter, responsible for vehicle & ride maintenance, and machining or fabricating new replacement parts. It was during this time that I enrolled in TAFE to obtain my Yr12 certificate.

After completing my year 12 certificate, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Technology Education, at Griffith University, and when I graduated, I relocated to Melbourne with my wife and 3 daughters to take a teaching post in 2006. Since then I have worked as an Engineering Technology teacher and further completed an Advanced Diploma in Engineering. I’ve been a head of department, and also managed a Trade Training Centre in Melbourne’s Western suburbs.

I am now currently teaching engineering at Marymede Catholic College.

Aaron runs trade skills workshop for high school students

As a teacher, responsible for educating the next generation of engineers and technical tradies, what does the future look like?

Unfortunately, the future does not look promising. Enrolments in engineering related subjects are down across the board.

One reason for this is simply the language we use. When you ask young adults, what is building and construction? Or, what is plumbing? They know exactly what it means. The word “engineering” is a broad statement used so often for many different things. To students, it can mean many things like a fabricator, machinist, or a professional university qualified engineer. This leads to students picking subjects based on terms they know and understand instead of subjects like “engineering”.

This is what I struggle with at most trade centres in a high school setting when trying to get students involved in engineering. They don’t know what it is! We need to focus on educating students on the different types of engineering whether it be trades or professional, what they involve and the different career paths it can open.

We need to adopt an approach where we get students interested in engineering whilst they are in primary school and continue to expose students to all elements of technical education throughout their entire schooling.

There have been many positive changes over the recent years, and by allowing Engineering to be taught in the high school curriculum is a big step forward. Down here in the Victoria students can chose the subjects such as VCE Systems Engineering and or 22470VIC VET Engineering Studies which both offer an ATAR score that students can use for university enrolment.

What needs to happen to ensure a future for technical industries?

Less emphasis on the building and construction industry, and more focus on the manufacturing and engineering sectors.

We need to stop outsourcing most of our manufacturing to foreign countries and develop strong local industry. An example is, the Government should never have allowed the closure of our car manufacturing industry. We need to be manufacturing, and we need to be selling our manufactured goods internationally.

We also need to develop industry so that as a nation, we can “Value Add” to our natural resources, instead of just shipping the raw product overseas.

Aaron educates his students in everything he can including milling and machining by hand and using CNC machines.

What can the Government do to ensure a strong and sovereign engineering industry in Australia?

I believe our current Government, is doing a fantastic job. However, they need to kickstart the Australian Made campaign again. A few politicians have come out with calls on the importance of Australian made products, but it is not enough. All politicians need to shine the spotlight on Australian manufacturing and why it is so especially important to nation’s future economy and prosperity.

I have a saying that I use regularly, “a country that doesn’t manufacture is a country that’s going down the gurgler”, and I feel the current Covid-19 problem has been the wakeup call that Australia needed. I actually think that as a result of COVID-19, there may be a positive change moving forward as it has highlighted the weaknesses in our supply chain.

If you could effect change on one thing, what would it be?

Australia needs to adopt nuclear energy. Not necessarily uranium, but thorium reactors. This would provide a stable & reliable base load of electricity that would be affordable to all Australians and allow much needed manufacturing to start back up in Australia.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/designcreativitytechnologychannel/about
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dct_aaron_engineering/
Aaron Engineering on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg4CpCYbwMHf2qe6ivCYmoA

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