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Graduate Systems Engineer, Boeing
“I strongly believe that the best way to achieve reconciliation in Australia is through education,” said Taylah Griffin, a Graduate Systems Engineer with Boeing Defence Australia.
Griffin is a Gangalu woman from Gordonvale in northern Queensland, and as a member of the team implementing Boeing Defence Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) she’s a passionate advocate of expanding opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in STEM — and particularly in engineering.
She points out that fewer than one per cent of tertiary STEM students are Indigenous — which is a big problem considering the importance STEM will play in the workforce of the future.
“If we’re not engaging young Indigenous Australians to take up STEM learning now, then the gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is going to continue to grow,” she said.
“I think that now is the time to really empower Indigenous Australian and really encourage and support that pathway into STEM.”
“It’s not only diverse thinking and diverse cultures, but any sort of diversity just leads to positive impact.”
Griffin’s current role involves work on the Boeing 737 E-7A Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail, a surveillance, communications and battlefield management platform.
But Griffin said that, growing up in a rural part of Queensland, she was not often exposed to the planes and aerospace technology with which she works each day. Part of her approach to encouraging others to pursue STEM careers is to share her own story.
She recently undertook such a trip, including a visit to her own hometown.
“I went up there to four rural high schools, including my own,” she said.
“I shared a little bit about my story and how achievable it is to live rurally, but to still be able to go to university and to study engineering.”
She described the trip as a highlight of her career so far.
“We engaged with over 600 students and over a third of those identified as Indigenous,” she said.
“We were able to visit the school and get the kids participating in STEM workshops.”
She said it’s an experience she would like to repeat this year.
“I’ve had a number of students contact me since leaving there and have asked further questions,” she said.
“We’ve also been able to establish a number of community relationships, which is really great. It’s a good way to stay in contact with the community and to work with them to find out new ways of how they can help those students that live in that area.”
Griffin’s talent has not escaped the notice of those outside the company. In 2018, she was given a CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tertiary Student Achievement Award. Since then she has won the Rising Star category of Australian Defence magazine’s Women in Defence awards.
“Winning that award gives me the opportunity to connect with other women in the defence industry,” she says of the Women in Defence award. “And I think that those networks can be quite powerful.”
For Griffin the World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, which the world will celebrate for the first time this 4 March, is an opportunity to celebrate holistic and inclusive engineering design and technologies.
“It is so important to celebrate this day meaningfully and adopt its core principles into our everyday work as engineers,” she said.
And when it comes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that will form the focus of the day, Griffin sees one goal in particular as important to her.
“My personal passions are very much aligned with Goal 4: Quality Education,” she said.
“My trip back to Far North Queensland last year to promote STEM and higher education pathways to rural and Indigenous high school students, is evidence of this. I am thankful that the BDA RAP Group shares my passion for giving back and are supportive of encouraging positive educational outcomes for First Nations peoples.”
Griffin said she definitely sees a connection between diversity in an organisation and business success.
“It’s not only diverse thinking and diverse cultures, but any sort of diversity just leads to positive impact,” she said.
“I think that’s something that we’re really pushing for on our RAP this year — to come up with a community of Indigenous employees. We see that when there’s a community and people feel like they fit in and that they’re welcomed into the business, that’s when people really want to come to work and do well.”