Aerospace engineer Crystal Forrester and operations analyst Cayt Rowe have been chosen to participate in a two-year program which will result in them gaining advanced communication skills and becoming high-profile role models for young women and girls.

Run by peak body Science & Technology Australia, Superstars of STEM seeks to challenge gender stereotypes and increase representation of female STEM professionals as expert commentators in the media.

Miss Forrester is an aircraft structural integrity engineer and has been involved in many projects, including working on aircraft such as the Black Hawk helicopter and Hornet fighter. But she said her true passion was space.

In her current role at Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) within the Department of Defence, Miss Forrester establishes and leads space research programs in areas such as advanced structures, smart materials and advanced modelling.

“Space has always had the ability to inspire through science fiction novels, television, movies and real-world achievements such as the moon landings,” Miss Forrester said.

“However, space engineering is often seen as a job only for certain types of people.

“I want to inspire people of all ages, genders and cultures to innovate and create science and technology that will benefit society and enable humans to one day travel beyond Mars.”

Dr Rowe’s job is to help the leaders of the ADF understand what will likely be required of them in the years ahead.

Using her background in mathematics, Dr Rowe enables decision-makers to choose between different force design options, ensuring the military is well positioned to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Her team at DST uses modelling and simulation, experimentation and wargaming to test what would happen in different scenarios. This work produces evidence that forms the basis of informed decision-making within Defence.

“My work is about improving how we make decisions about investing for the future,” Dr Rowe said. 

“This type of organisational decision-making has applications across our whole society, including government policy, private industry investments and even individual healthcare choices.

“By taking part in the program, I intend to raise the profile of operations analysis as a field of endeavour, as well as giving insight to young people as to the diverse applications of mathematical sciences.”

They are among a select group of 60 women who have been chosen to participate in the 2021-22 Superstars of STEM program.