Indigenous Role Models Inspire Students in STEM Careers

For more than 20 years, WSP has been a proud partner of Engineering Aid Australia’s Indigenous Australian Engineering School (IAES), helping to inspire Indigenous Australian secondary school students to consider engineering and STEM career pathways.

House parents pictured above (L-R): Ashleigh Hyland (WSP), Jack Naylor, Katrina Milliner, Josh MacLeod (WSP), Allison Monaghan.


This year, two of our people, who are also alumni of the IAES in Sydney – Ashleigh Hyland and Josh MacLeod – were house parents supporting the students during the recent week-long program. Josh also led the networking function for students and was the master of ceremony for the formal dinner sponsored in part by WSP.


Leading the Way

The IAES gave 25 Indigenous high school students from across Australia – who are entering years 10, 11 and 12 in 2019 – the opportunity to come to Sydney and explore the possibilities of studying and working within various areas of engineering. WSP was honoured with a Gift of Appreciation in recognition of our ongoing support of the program.


Josh MacLeod, Junior Electrical Intern at WSP originally attended IAES in Sydney in 2014 as a student and this year was appointed as Head House Parent overseeing five house parents and the students. House parents provide leadership and guidance to help make the students’ experience as supported and inspiring as possible.


Josh says, “The IAES had such an impact on me as it opened my eyes to change paths to university, where I’m now studying electrical engineering and secured an internship with WSP. I’m passionate about giving back and jumped at the chance to participate in the program and to help nurture future Indigenous generations. My advice to them is to make the most of it, you don’t realise just yet how important and valuable the networking opportunities with the participating companies are for your career pathway.”


Award pictured above (L-R): Glenn Thornton (WSP), His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)


Ashleigh Hyland, Graduate Sustainability Consultant at WSP attended IAES in Sydney in 2011 and was a house parent for the first time this year. She was inspired by her two brothers who had been through the program previously.


“I’m passionate about sustainability, our environment and helping future young Indigenous students open up their eyes to opportunities,” explains Ashleigh. “IAES and the people I met along the way opened up a whole new avenue into engineering and STEM for me. It changed my mind about what I thought engineering was, as well as helped broaden my connections and networks, and set me up on a clear career pathway.


“I’d encourage others to take every opportunity as it comes. This year, we had the highest number of students and the largest number of female students since the school began. It would be great to continue to grow this further and inspire the next generation of Indigenous students into STEM careers.”


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