Fifth-generation cutting-edge Air Force technology inspired thousands of young minds and professionals alike at the two-day Science Alive! Expo at the Adelaide Showground last month.

The expo gave the ADF the opportunity to showcase the science, technology, engineering and mathematics’ (STEM) career paths on offer.

Air Warfare Engineering Squadron and Joint Electronic Warfare Operational Support Unit of the Air Warfare Centre (AWC) showcased the latest F-35A Lightning II and F/A-18 Hornet simulators at the expo.

Using state-of-the-art augmented reality headsets, expo attendees were given the opportunity to experience what it is like to fly a real multi-role fighter aircraft.

Chief Engineer of the AWC Wing Commander Gary Rains said there was a bright future for emerging technology within Defence and he was keen to see the younger generation study STEM subjects to help come up with innovative ways of utilising this capability to its full potential while being employed in an exciting and ground-breaking environment.

“One of the key drivers in innovation is having people who think out of the box, can look for alternatives and provide solutions that are not readily evident to people from my generation,” Wing Commander Rains said.

“This is particularly important, given the pace of technological change we are experiencing.

“The Air Force, particularly the Air Warfare Centre, values STEM qualifications and provides an opportunity for people to be involved in exciting and innovative projects now and into the future.

“Augmented, or mixed reality, blends the real world with the synthetic, allowing for computer-generated content to blend with real-world objects and greatly enhance both real-world and digital interactions.”

The role of the AWC is to “Ready the war fighter” though the integration of current and future technologies and capabilities to provide optimal effect in support of Air Force, the ADF and whole-of-government initiatives.

More photos can be viewed on the Defence image gallery.