For Squadron Leader Aron Pennisi, his love for engineering began early on his granite belt farm in Queensland's Southern Downs region and has now taken him all the way to the Middle East.
Growing up on acreage just west of Stanthorpe, the aerospace avionics engineering graduate from the Queensland University of Technology is currently deployed with Air Task Group at Australia's main operating base in the Middle East.
Squadron Leader Pennisi's deployed engineering role is dedicated to safety so crews can focus on getting their job done.
"I am a subject matter expert to the commander and am responsible for engineering, maintenance and safety regulatory compliance. I am also the interface between base support services [fuel, oxygen, munitions] and operations," Squadron Leader Pennisi said.
"My job helps enable the maintenance staff and aircrew to focus on operations and completing their mission; while we look after the more laborious and administrative tasks.
"Back in Australia, I am the deputy chief engineer for Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. I look after all of the avionics, armament and life-support designs introduced on these platforms.
“I work heavily in the engineering design back home. My role here is focused more on day-to-day operations for our aircraft in the Middle East.
"Simply put, I enjoy solving difficult problems."
Growing up, Squadron Leader Pennisi had a lot of room to explore his love for farming and the technical equipment that goes along with it.
"I grew up on the granite belt in a soldier settlement town known as Amiens, named after a French town from World War I," he said.
"My three sisters and I grew up on several hundred acres in a region that produces arguably the best wine, fruit and vegetables in Australia. I have exceptionally fond memories of growing up with fresh air, space and tranquility.
"Retrospectively, it afforded me an opportunity to appreciate a rural lifestyle, understand tough times and be eternally grateful for what I have today. It definitely provides me with far broader perspective as an engineer today, all those years of pulling apart our own equipment and seeing how we could find ways to fix it ourselves.
"I loved to tinker and break everything as a kid. I think I was destined to be an engineer regardless of where I grew up."
Squadron Leader Pennisi said he would suggest a job in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) field to anyone.
"Absolutely. Engineering applies theoretical principles of maths and physics, which can be perceived as abstract, to build, invent and evolve society," he said.
"If you like creating or inventing something that doesn't yet exist, engineering is a great start."
Squadron Leader Pennisi is looking forward to returning to Australia to spend time with his wife and children.
"I have an amazing wife, two beautiful girls, aged five and two, and one more on the way. It's pretty fitting I'll have three daughters as I grew up in a household with three sisters.
"My wife is a medical engineer. She's doing an incredible job of working while also raising our girls while I'm deployed.
"Thankfully, we have an amazing support network from my in-laws, parents and three sisters."
Defence is highlighting the role of our personnel in STEM fields during National Science Week, which runs until August 23.