Courtney pictured in Canada where she traveled as part of her fellowship. She also went to the USA and New Zealand

Courtney Ryder came to the first IAESS in 1998. Listing all of her inspiring achievements would require much more space than we have available.

As a 15 year old Nunga kid from Southern South Australia, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished school. So, when the opportunity arose to attend the first Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS) in 1998, I thought: ‘why not and what do engineers do anyway?’

Little did I know that this would be a transformative experience in shaping my career aspirations. The journey included so many firsts; I hadn’t been on an aeroplane before, travelled to Sydney or been to a university.

Throughout the week at Sydney University IAES School, I participated in a range of activities such as; designing aerodynamic helmets, powering motors with solar panels, creating my own web page and visiting Homebush in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics. I left with a new- found passion and drive to become an engineer.

In 2001, through the Yungorendi Admissions Scheme, I was accepted to study biomedical engineering at Flinders University. Over the next five years, I studied hard to pursue my career aspirations and in March 2006, I graduated with honours – becoming the first Aboriginal biomedical engineer and the first Aboriginal female from the IAES to graduate from engineering.

I would not have been able to achieve any of this, without the generous support of EAA, Rotary and the Aboriginal Health Council of SA. During my time as an engineering student, I undertook the role of peer mentor to Ben Lange at UNSW. I felt proud to be able to give back to EAA and honoured to be part of this special journey for so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in Australia.

Since graduating from biomedical engineering, I have focused my career academically, with a research interest in Aboriginal medical education, rehabilitation and injury. For the past seven years, I have worked at Flinders University as an Aboriginal lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

My work, in terms of educational innovation in Aboriginal health, was recognised internationally and in 2015, I received the LIMElight award for leading innovation in Indigenous health curriculum implementation.

I recently, completed a Churchill Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to facilitate the development of a curriculum framework for best practice simulation teaching in Indigenous Health.

This year I will start the next chapter in my career journey, returning to Sydney University where I have been accepted to undertake my postdoctoral studies. I have been successful in securing two prestigious scholarships to assist me with my studies.

I cannot thank EAA enough for having the IAES vision, they have assisted me on this journey and I will be forever grateful.

Courtney Ryder, BSc BEng(Biomed)(Hons) PhDc