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Student project off to a flying start at Australian Aerospace

Australian Aerospace Limited is a major contractor to the Australian Government. The company assembles and maintains civil and military helicopters and maintains military aircraft and has worked with CEED since 2008, hosting a number of Engineering and IT projects.

The company has reported great success in using CEED projects as a way of finding intelligent, available people to address specific, practical issues and trial potential entry-level employees before they reach the market.  Last year it hired its first former CEED student.

Australian Aerospace.James Wenham (CEED student 2010) 
 L to R: Ben Cooper and Charel Sholz (Australian Aerospace)
 with James (Jimmy) Wenham, CEED student.

Earlier this year Australian Aerospace identified a need for someone to analyse and improve its invoice approval and payment systems. As thousands of invoices are processed and paid every month, the project could significantly enhance the defence contractor’s overall efficiency.

CEED shortlisted a number of candidates and James Wenham, who was in his final year of a Bachelor of Corporate Systems Management at QUT, studying business process modelling and business analysis amongst other subjects, was chosen.

Two-thirds of the way into the one semester project, Australian Aerospace is already considering new ways of approaching these business processes. James Wenham has completed an ‘as-is’ Process Model, analysed its strengths and weaknesses, and identified a number of possible improvements.

He is on track to provide a full report with recommendations by the end of November. One of the criteria for the project was that the new system had to use SAP software to enable it to be completely integrated with Australian Aerospace’s other ICT systems.

Ben Cooper, Manager MRH Contracting and Procurement, said CEED students were a great addition to existing staff for specific projects.

“Like many businesses, we are used to our current systems so it’s great to have a fresh set of eyes looking objectively at how we do things,” Mr Cooper said.

“It is very useful to have an outsider’s point of view; they can usually see any shortfalls more easily than we can.”

“We have a longstanding relationship with CEED, so we can be confident any student who comes through the program will be intelligent and capable and the process will be well managed.”

James Wenham said he first became interested in the CEED program after a friend described his experiences and the huge benefits.

“Over the past year I applied to projects that I thought would suit my skills and interests and managed to land a position at Australian Aerospace in my last semester,” Mr Wenham said.

“The CEED program is simply an overall great experience, providing the opportunity to gain an insight into business, meet interesting people, learn new skills and test existing ones, and find out what you’re capable of as a person.

“It gives students a chance to prove to themselves and employers that they're ready for the real world, which is a massive confidence boost.”

James Wenham said employers should keep an open mind and not dismiss students.

“We really can help improve a business, we’re very adaptive and can't wait to test ourselves in the real world,” he said.

“My advice to students is to be patient; if you don't get the first few projects you apply for, it's probably because they're not right for you.

“You'll know when the right project comes along and if you've got a shot, so don't despair if things look grim. Also, while you're working on your project, its great to immerse yourself in the culture of the company, I think it helps enrich your experience while you're there.”


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