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Nicola Brown

Flight Sergeant Nicola Brown is an Avionics Technician and has been in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 27 years.

nicola brownWhat do you do on an average day?
I have just returned from a two year project in the United States which involved the certification and acceptance of 10 new Seasprite helicopters. I am continuing to work on activities to introduce these helicopters to service, including modifications and publication amendments.

What did you study at school? And after high school?
I studied English, German, Latin. History, Computer Studies, Statistical Maths, Calculus Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Physics. After high school, I did a New Zealand Certificate in Engineering in Telecommunications through the air force, then a Diploma in Business Management. I get ongoing education and training in the air force.

Was your study directly related to what you do now?
Partially – mathematics and physics are - but what I studied was not aimed my eventual career choice.

What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Do not let people tell you what you should be doing, do what interests you. I was always interested in how things worked and pulling them to pieces. The air force will train you from day one if you have the interest. Women have a different way of thinking and are a bonus to any workplace. Working on aircraft is fascinating, satisfying and at the end of the day positive outcomes can be seen.

What are some of your career/study highlights so far?

  • Leading an eight person maintenance team which deployed on board a Royal New Zealand Navy frigate to the Arabian Gulf for six months to keep the Seasprite helicopter serviceable and operational.
  • Managing a 30 person shift at 5 Squadron which looks after the Orion surveillance aircraft. These are also used for Search & Rescue and it's great to know you have contributed to finding people lost at sea.
  • A two year posting to the United States for the acceptance of the SH-2G(I) Seasprite.

Why do you believe engaging in STEM – whether it’s working in the field, studying it or just educating one’s self around the issues – is important to New Zealand?
STEM is the becoming the basis of our communication, daily life and how we improve our future life.

Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
I think it is important to have people who are passionate, care and add value to the job that they are in. Women have a different focus and life skills which adds value to any job that they engage in. It is important that women also understand the world we are growing up in and what we are making of the world for our children. STEM is a lot less now about strength of body and more about the agility of mind - there should be no impediment to women entering the field.

Flight Sergeant Nicola Brown is an Avionics Technician and has been in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 27 years. 

This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM. 
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