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From Refugee To Airbus: Read The Inspiring Story Of Samuel Nen John-Phaltang From South Sudan

Samuel Nen Phaltang is a Queensland-based  African-Australian Aerospace Avionics and Electrical Engineer and also holds a position as a Vice President of Nuer Community in Queensland.
He has been a Youth leader from 2013 to 2017 where he inspired many youths with his cultural ability including the teaching of youths. He is focused and driven by his pursuit of excellence.
He takes pride in his current job as an engineer for Airbus in Australia Pacific where he is currently an ambassador for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as part of Little Engineers. He has been involved in African community activities.

What’s your job about?

Airbus in Australia Pacific assembled and delivered 47 MRH 90 multi-role helicopters for the Australian Army and Navy and is supporting 22 Tiger ARH armed reconnaissance helicopters for the Army.  Part of my job is to help support these products.

What’s your background?

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I was born and grew up in South Sudan’s Leer County in Unity State. I left Leer County in the year 2000 when my village came under heavy attack by the North Sudan Government.  Everyone in the village ran to different locations and in different directions. We walked for 5 months to the border of South Sudan and Uganda. I got picked up with some other children and taken to a refugee camp in Northern Uganda by Ugandan police.  I stayed in the refugee camp for two years.  In 2003 my brother, who was a former child soldier, heard that I ended up in Uganda.  He came and picked me up and took me to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where he lives.  In 2007 I got a chance to come to Australia on a refugee visa where I attended Coorparoo Secondary College as an ESL student. I could not speak English at that time and I had to learn how to speak and write in English.  In 2009 I graduated High School as an ESL student and got offered a chance to study Engineering at QUT where things got very interesting.  My first year was a general entry for engineering students and in my second year I chose to study Aerospace Avionics and Electrical engineering because I was interested in understanding the functionalities of the helicopter gunship that chased us away from our village.

I did 12 months of work placement at Quality Avionics at Archerfield Airport.  I also worked for Signal Automation also known as (Livezi). I left Signal Automation and came to Airbus in 2017.

Airbus is the only place to learn on the job.  From being a refugee to Airbus, this is so awesome you can do it too.

The road to success was very tough and rough but here I’m at Airbus which I never dreamed of. With support from my lecturers and teaching staff, it was possible for me to my achieve goals. Sometimes in life, we have to make very difficult decisions in order to get to where we are; don’t simply give up; there are a lot of opportunities out there.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes/ Maybe No.  I would suggest that those who have engineering qualifications would be able to cope with the demands of the job if they have the ability to learn and are ready to be part of the Airbus team.  A big part of the job is to “learn on the job”.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

How helicopters work, the fly by wire avionics systems.

What are the limitations of your job?

The tasks assigned to you must be completed; the work is Monday to Friday (37.5 hours weekly) but it is a very flexible work environment to work with management.  This is a role where someone might have to do extra work and hold extra responsibility so you have to be flexible and adaptable.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student…

  • Anything is possible
  • Never give up
  • Do what you love
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Written by PH

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