Darra-Based PFi, Northrop Grumman to Launch Science of Rockets STEM Program in Queensland

Darra-Based PFi, Northrop Grumman to Launch Science of Rockets STEM Program in Queensland
Photo credit: Northrop Grumman Corporation / Facebook

Darra-based engineering design and manufacturing company PFi will partner with Northrop Grumman, one of the world’s largest space companies, to deliver the Science of Rockets STEM program in Queensland.

The Science of Rockets STEM program will be rolled out to 10 Queensland secondary schools in Term One 2020, with more than 50 state secondary schools joining the program at the start of the school year in 2021, according to the announcement by the Minister for State Development and Manufacturing Cameron Dick.

The schools getting ready for the program in Term One, 2020 include Ferny Grove State High School, Ormeau Woods State High School; Sheldon College, Toowoomba Grammar School, Warwick State High School, Whitsunday Anglican School, West Moreton Anglican College, Centenary State High School, Ipswich State High School, and Kelvin Grove State College.

The program features “Rocket in a Suitcase,” a rocket motor the size of a carryon suitcase which will be the first commercially developed rocket motor in Australia to be exported. 



The STEM program, which is also the first-ever in the world, was piloted by PFI at Ormeau Woods State High School in 2019. The course involves designing, manufacturing, and testing of hybrid rocket motors. 

“Forming a course around the design, manufacture and testing of a rocket motor was a practical, hands-on yet interesting way to bring the space industry into schools and universities,” PFi General Manager Nick Green said.

“Many of the jobs of the future will require science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and the kinds of ‘hands on’ experience provided by this program helps to bring these subjects alive by turning theory into practice,” Mr Dick said.

“We want students to know that if you study science, you can build a rocket and build a career in the space industry.”

Darra-Based PFi, Northrop Grumman to Launch Science of Rockets STEM Program in Queensland
Photo credit: Northrop Grumman Corporation / Facebook

Queensland’s space industry already contributes 2,000 full-time positions, generating $760 million to the state’s economy each year, with the capacity to employ three times as many people and generate $6 billion by 2036.

The State Government, Mr Dick said, is now finalising the Queensland Space Strategy to make Queensland the home of the Australian space sector through a partnership with the Australian Space Agency.

“We have advanced manufacturing capabilities, a healthy R&D and innovation start-up ecosystem that is becoming recognised world-wide, as evidenced by Northrop Grumman’s investment in PFi here in Darra,” he said.

“Leading edge technologies such as this will drive new jobs in advanced manufacturing, so we need to ensure we have a highly skilled and capable workforce at the ready.”