From gap year to greenie PO

Petty Officer Electronics Technician Emma Barnett joined the Navy as a gap year sailor and is living proof you can do anything you put your mind to.

CAPTION: Petty Officer Electronics Technician Emma Barnett conducts work at HMAS Albatross in Nowra. Story by Sub Lieutenant Nancy Cotton. Photo by Leading Seaman Ryan Tascas.

Signing up for full-time service in 2008, her career began as an electronics technician, colloquially known as a ‘greenie’ because of the green stripes officers historically wore on their sleeves between their rank.

Petty Officer Barnett said her decision to go into electronics came as a surprise to her parents.

“I hadn’t done anything like it before, and it’s not like my dad taught us things like that as kids, so it came out of the blue,” Petty Officer Barnett said.

Science Week is a chance to highlight Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related roles within Navy, many of which provide unique opportunities to explore other opportunities within an area of study.

Working at the RAN Tactical Electronic Warfare Support Section, her team provides a critical capability to Navy in the field of electronics.

Petty Officer Barnett’s motivation and professional drive has enabled her to complete a TAFE course to gain her civilian electrical licence, as well as undertake an Associate Degree of Engineering at university.

“The job at sea can be high-pressured. If there’s a fault in a system, it’s on you to find it, be able to think on your feet, have an analytical mind to work out what is wrong and get the capability of the ship back,” she said.

“The importance becomes very relevant when you are out on a major international deployment, understanding how your role contributes to the larger Navy picture.”

Petty Officer Barnett said she loved her job and the people she worked with.

“It would be good to see more females coming into electronics and STEM roles. As I found out, you can learn absolutely anything you put your mind to,” she said.





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