In celebration of the 2023 Girls in Aviation Day (GIAD), young girls in South Africa, Mozambique, and Nigeria took flight on a day filled with inspiration and exploration. The Netherlands Airport Consultants (NACO), a subsidiary of Royal HaskoningDHV, in partnership with Women in Aviation ERAU-Worldwide Chapter, organised this remarkable event.
Held on September 23, 2023, in 150 countries worldwide, GIAD is an annual initiative that connects youth with aviation professionals and fosters an appreciation for careers in aviation among girls aged eight to 18, and this year marked the fourth collaboration between NACO and GIAD.
NACO is deeply committed to promoting diversity and inclusion within the aviation industry. For them, the GIAD program represents an annual highlight as it aims to cultivate the next generation of talent to meet the evolving needs of the aviation sector in Africa.
Renee Smith, NACO GIAD program director, expressed their dedication to inspiring young minds, encouraging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, nurturing talent, and paving the way for a brighter future in aviation.
The GIAD participants got to explore a diverse range of activities. They had the chance to interact with inspirational female role models, engage with industry professionals, participate in vocational brainstorming sessions, and even take on the challenge of designing and launching paper aeroplanes.
Certificates were awarded to the young participants for their completed training, and their 3D designs were showcased, giving them a sense of accomplishment and recognition. The Girls in Aviation fun day served as the culmination of three annual events organised by NACO.
One of these events occurred in collaboration with Fireblade Aviation. On August 5, 2023, at OR Tambo International Airport, it celebrated Women’s Day. Participants included 15 high school pupils, 15 tertiary students with engineering degrees, and 40 industry professionals. The event featured comprehensive facility tours, insightful speakers from NACO, Fireblade, and Airstudent Travel, and valuable networking opportunities.
The sustainable aviation training days, held on August 14 and 21, 2023, extended the program’s reach to South Africa, Nigeria, and Mozambique. It involved 60 grade four pupils in Johannesburg, 70 young enthusiasts of various ages in Abuja and Kaduna, and 20 grade 10 pupils in Maputo, all engaging in online and classroom sessions.
These training days aimed to impart knowledge about aviation innovation, covering topics such as aerodromes, battery and hydrogen-operated aircraft, alternative energy sources, and 3D printing. Additionally, the young participants had the unique opportunity to design their own electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft (eVTOLs) using free online 3D design software. The program concluded with the much-anticipated Girls in Aviation fun day.
Since its inception in 2019, the NACO-led Girls in Aviation Day program has reached 780 young females in South Africa, Mozambique, and Nigeria. It has introduced them to the exciting and diverse career possibilities within the aviation industry and the fields of STEM.
Picture: Supplied by Rising Sun Newspapers
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