Future Champion Stephanie Pratikna: By 2030 I’d like to be…

By Stephanie Pratikna

By 2030 I’d like to be… an aerospace engineer.

Since I was young I have always loved mathematics & science. Although I have only started learning Physics this year, I absolutely love it. This of course is very different from a lot of my friends who hate mathematics & science and are confused about how I can enjoy it so much. I am always very curious and fascinated about understanding how things work. I am a person who can’t stand repetitive work, instead liking new exciting problems and ideas. I have always wanted to be an engineer for a long time now and the ‘STEM careers’ program in UNSW has given me encouragement and enthusiasm towards studying to be an engineer. In order for me to achieve this goal I will need to study hard in the next 2 years to prepare for the HSC and I am hoping to get a high ATAR and get accepted to the UNSW Aerospace Engineer 4 year program.

I would love to be working in a company such as Boeing, Airbus, NASA or SpaceX. It would be amazing to be able to work my way up to a leadership role in an aerospace company which are predominantly male. Recent case studies show that only 20% of employees in aerospace engineering are women, below the total percentage of women in engineering which falls at around 30%. Women still are not always thought of as working in STEM careers, however, we bring so many new ideas. As a woman in 2030 I hope that I will have made great achievements and through this encouraged and inspired other young girls the same way which I have been inspired by Dr Anita Sengupta. Dr Segupta is a project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with a PhD in Aerospace Engineering.

Dr Anita Sengupta, Project Manager, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

At first, many people were confused and questioned her ability to work in engineering because she was a girl.  However she didn’t care and now, she encourages other girls, like me, to pursue an engineering career. Something she has said that really inspired me was: For me, the motivation comes from within. I’ve had people ask me, when I would tell them what I wanted to do as a career – ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’ And tell me it’s very competitive and very difficult. I just don’t try to be anything different than what I am. I’m happy to be a girl, to look like a girl, to be from my generation and I’m not going to pretend to be something I’m not.” Dr Segupta is a confident & hardworking person and she isn’t afraid to try something new and go against the crowd. She is definitely my role model.

I would also love to be able to work in a team helping in research, figuring out and designing solutions to many of the aerospace engineering problems we have today. I want to make a difference whether it is big or small.

Globalisation has resulted in a world that is becoming more and more interconnected. People want to be able to get from one side of the world to another in less and less time, making efficiency a massive factor in today’s society. It is also mandatory these days to conserve energy and move away from fossil fuels towards renewable, green sources of energy. The longer we wait and keep using all these non-renewable resources, the greater our ecological footprint will be for our future and our children’s future.

Future Airplanes- NASA

I hope, as an aerospace engineer, to lead a team in designing aeroplanes that will incorporate both of these essential aspects to create commercial planes that run solely on renewable energy, such as solar or wind power and are able to get from Sydney to LA or England, in just a couple of hours. I hope to create a ‘dreamliner’ airplane which is very efficient as well as ensuring the comfort and luxury of its passengers. An aircraft that is light, efficient, comfortable and environmentally friendly. In this way, we will revolutionise the aerospace world and allow this interconnectivity the world needs more now than ever. Solving problems such as these is my goal for the future and my career and being able to improve the aerospace world.