Engineers Australia Associate Fellow and Chartered Engineer Wade Godbee AFIEAust CEng grew up in rural Queensland before joining the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), where he served full-time for 27 years.
In recognition of a lifetime of service, he was recently named Engineers Australia’s Associate Engineer of the Year 2021 at a ceremony in Brisbane.
From farm to military base
Godbee, who received an Order of Australia medal for his military service on the Queen’s birthday in 2015, has decades of engineering and military experience in the defense aviation sector. His youth, however, took place in a decidedly different context.
“I grew up on a grain farm west of Dalby in regional Queensland,” he said. create. “I have, like many children, an interest in airplaneand builds model airplanes as a hobby.
While a military background was not common in Godbee’s family – apart from his father who served in the military – Godbee quickly solidified his interest in the armed forces by joining the Army cadets in high school. At 16, he was accepted into the Air Force as an apprentice engine technician.
After completing his training at Wagga Wagga, he was posted to RAAF Base Amberley at Ipswich, where he worked on aircraft including Canberra and F-111 bombers.
After a number of years, he embarked on recruiting as an Air Force careers counselor, a move he considers an early career highlight.
“I spent two and a half years visiting schools, universities and placement agencies, highlighting the many engineering careers offered by the Air Force and Defense Force in general, and providing advice on how to apply for positions,” Godbee said.
Its catchment area extended to Rockhampton and Longreach in Queensland, and to Grafton in New South Wales.
“I loved the interaction with the general public, meeting young people wishing to join Defense and guiding them towards the right professional path. The result was that years later I then met some of these people in the Air Force, where in a number of cases they worked for me.
From there he worked at RAAF Base Williamtown near Newcastle, working with Hornet and Macchi aircraft, before being reassigned to Amberley as an engineering warrant officer, a role in which he managed 250 personnel and 14 F aircraft. -111.
He left the Permanent Air Force and joined the RAAF Active Reserve in 2006, after 27 years of full-time service.
In addition to his ongoing involvement in the reserves – where he is responsible for a team of technical reservists working on Super Hornet and Growler aircraft – Godbee works as a senior maintenance manager for defense contractor Raytheon Australia.
In this role, he is involved with the Air Combat Electronic Attack Sustainment Program at Amberley, which services Super Hornet and Growler aircraft systems and components.
“I’ve had a number of opportunities throughout my career, including overseas deployments and the chance to work with and mentor different people throughout their engineering careers,” said he declared.
This focus on people has at times been challenged by low talent retention rates within Defence.
“Maintaining your current workforce and developing it is a major challenge,” he said. “A lot of young people these days don’t have a ‘career’ as such – they have multiple jobs. Changing employers or professions is more common these days than when I first joined the Air Force.
At Raytheon too, the challenge of closing the skills gap is keenly felt, but it has simply required a shift in thinking about skills and recruitment.
“We need certain skill sets and qualifications that other industries don’t have, so we’re targeting veterans of defense or civil aviation to fill our workforce,” Godbee said.