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Travelling the seas as a Naval Architect - feature image, used as a supportive image and isn't important to understand article

"I’ve travelled extensively with the Navy, and each day is a new and exciting challenge. I love my job and couldn’t recommend a more rewarding and diverse career than in the Royal Australian Navy."

NYSF 2009 Alumnus Lieutenant James Heydon has built himself a career as a Naval Architect, and Marine Engineering Officer.  Read on to find out how this interesting career has seen James travel the world ...

I attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in 2009 and was fortunate enough to be invited back in 2010 and 2011 as a Student Staff Leader to ensure that the amazing experiences I had were passed on to future generations of NYSF students. Friendships I made during my time at the NYSF are still as strong today as they were 9 years ago, and I look back at my time at the NYSF fondly.                 

Following Year 12, I took time away from study for a year with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on a GAP Year, which I enjoyed immensely, focussing my self-awareness and resilience. I went on to study Aeronautical Engineering at the University of New South Wales but changed in my second year to Naval Architecture. The running joke at university among my peers was that they’re the same degree, just with different constants – We could all laugh about it then, but the design philosophy is completely different.

My degree at UNSW was full of practical lab experiments, and excursions to visit consulting firms and shipyards – The opportunities available to me were invaluable. While UNSW has suspended its Naval Architecture stream, I can highly recommend the University for any prospective Mechanical Engineering students.

I graduated in 2014 and started work for the Department of Defence as a Naval Architect. I worked for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), but as a civilian Defence member in the Australian Public Service. During my time in this role I travelled all over Australia; visiting Navy bases and ships in most of our capital cities – HMAS Stirling in Perth, HMAS Coonawarrain Darwin, BAE’s shipyards in Melbourne etc – and spent considerable time developing my understanding of the RAN’s requirements for its warships.

Travelling the seas as a Naval Architect - content image

In 2016 I commissioned as a Marine Engineering Officer in the Royal Australian Navy and started the journey to where I am today. Marine Engineering Officers are responsible for the ship's structure, propulsion train, and auxiliary systems onboard. We juggle personnel requirements and resources in a fast-paced environment to ensure that capability (the ship) is available to command.

I’m currently serving onboard HMAS Adelaide and during my posting to the ship have deployed internationally with the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017, will deploy again this year with the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018 as well as participate in RIMPAC 2018 in Hawaii. I’ve travelled extensively with the Navy, and each day is a new and exciting challenge. I love my job and couldn’t recommend a more rewarding and diverse career than in the Royal Australian Navy.

The most important advice I can give to any recent alumni or prospective student is not to be afraid - to embrace change. While change can be scary, challenging the status quo grows you as a person, and broadens your experiences. Take control of your life and your career, and don’t be afraid to try something different, you might find you’re a better person because of it.

For information about opportunities with the Australian Defence Force visit the Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) website.

Applications are now open for the 2019 NYSF Year 12 Program.  For more information click HERE.