A TEAM from aerospace engineering company Leonardo has flown thousands of miles to New Zealand, to share an array of engineering activities with school students.

In a 24,546-mile tour, the Leonardo STEM team visited 14 schools and universities across the north and south islands of New Zealand, engaging 416 students aged 12-17 years and 30 teaching staff.

To celebrate the launch of SOREC, the Southland and Otago Regional Engineering Collective Academy, the team provided STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) sessions across multiple schools in Auckland, Dunedin, Invercargill, and Queenstown schools.

Aaron Lewis, campaign director at Leonardo Helicopters, said: “We recognise the strength and opportunity of the New Zealand engineering sector and the need to keep it innovative and sustainable by attracting local students into engineering-based jobs and careers.

“The STEM activities are about showing young people the prospects of how their science, maths or even English studies can transfer into an engineering career.”

In a teamwork exercise, groups were given the challenge of carrying out an urgent rescue, and constructing a helicopter with a number of materials.

After being briefed on the importance of using sustainable engineering materials, the students had to decide on its construction using their budding engineering skills.

Sarah Ramsay, SOREC Board member and the CEO of Dunedin company United Machinists attended the two-hour workshop at Kings High School.

Speed network sessions with the Leonardo team helped students to step into engineering roles and imagine themselves in those positions.

They were asked to communicate key features of their responsibilities, helping them to dig deeper into what various engineering career pathways would feel like by adopting those identities.

Jess Hudson, Year 12 student at Wakatipu High School, noted: “This was a great opportunity for all of us and it highlighted how STEM subjects can provide key life skills that can be transferred into engineering careers.

“As well as STEM, we all learnt some very useful skills that can be used in our everyday life while engaging in a fun, safe and educational environment.”

Looking to the future, Leonardo looks to continue to support STEM sessions virtually and envisage the possibility of undertaking this STEM programme in person again in New Zealand.

Grace Hynes, teacher at Ormiston Junior College in Auckland, commented: “Having the team from Leonardo in was such an amazing authentic learning experience for our students.

“They loved how engaging and different their tasks were and are still buzzing about it a week later.

“The Leonardo team were so kind and patient with the learners and supported them through their challenges and opened their eyes to the how wide the career possibilities in STEM/STEAM are.”