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Dear Reader,

I’m writing this to you because you are the future.  

It could be YOU who creates the next Fortnite. YOU might smash the record for fastest jet pilot. Or maybe YOU will invent the next technological breakthrough in aerospace. 

But in order to do any of those things, you’ll need skills learnt by studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We need bright and creative minds for the jobs of the future, many of which don’t even exist yet. Australia needs critical thinkers, researchers, innovators, problem solvers. Studying STEM opens you up to the most exciting opportunities out there, I can tell you that first-hand.

I always knew I wanted to be a pilot. My parents were both in the Air Force and they were fantastic role models. As a kid, I built model planes and was highly interested in computers and writing binary code. My favourite subjects at school were maths and physics.

Physics teaches you to look at the world differently.  Instead of accepting things for what they are, for example the device you’re reading this on, you look beyond it and wonder: How was this screen made? Where did the materials come from? What happens if I drop it? Physics changes you forever.

When I was little I loved trying to figure out how things worked. This led me to doing things like taking our lawnmower apart. Only, I couldn’t figure out how to put it back together again. My dad wasn’t too happy as you can imagine. Why don’t you try doing that? You can blame me if you like!  

I’ll always remember the first time I ever flew a plane by myself. I sat back and thought: “Wow! Check this out!  This is me doing this!” I had to pinch myself to believe what I was doing, but it was my STEM education (along with lots of hard work) that got me there.

My STEM studies have been the foundation of my 35 years in the Air Force. I’ve been all over the world being paid to do what I love. I’ve been super high, super low, super fast and super slow!

Whoever said: “The sky’s the limit!” got it wrong. The sky is NOT your limit. Space is not even your limit. With determination, and a focus on STEM in your education your future is guided only by the boundaries that you set yourself. The opportunities are only narrowed if you allow them to be.

Life is not a rehearsal. You only get one shot. Think of limits only as something to be expanded, pushed or broken.

Take some risks. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t.

Learn to apologise when you break something. But break it anyway!


Gavin Turnbull

See me in the Jasper magazine