Ultimate Careers 2017

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Take the Ultimate Careers Survey for your chance to win great prizes


Reef Warrior Science = Art




BRIDGING THE GAP What to do when your marks fall short TECH IN YOUR CLOTHES AND UNDER YOUR SKIN You wear it but what about implanting or ingesting it?


& find out how you can launch your own science project into space with Cuberider p44


THEN YOU’LL LOVE WHAT YOU WILL FIND IN THE NAVY, ARMY AND AIR FORCE. Make the most of your interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths with a career in the ADF. You’ll work on some of the most challenging and significant projects in the country, leading highly trained teams of people and utilising the most technically-advanced equipment available. Choose from aeronautical, electrical, mechanical or marine engineering roles, or dozens of trade roles working at the forefront of aviation, communications, intelligence, armaments, vehicle or marine technology. You’ll be working across elements such as maintenance, engineering, logistics and project management, supporting Defence capability and striving to achieve the next generation of advancements in technology. Our world-class training will equip you with all the skills you need, and the qualifications you gain will set you up for life.

Apart from gaining valuable technical, management and leadership skills, which you’ll get the opportunity to apply in a variety of environments, you’ll also gain a wide network of mentors and mates. As a Defence sponsored student, you’ll receive a competitive remuneration package including free health care, subsidised accommodation and job security. You’ll also have your remaining HELP fees paid and receive a salary to study. In addition, you may be awarded a Defence Technical Scholarship, offering a Surface Pro tablet to successful applicants. A STEM role in the ADF offers an exciting and incredibly rewarding career. To find out more, call 13 19 01 or visit defencejobs.gov.au/jobs/stem.


Recent advances and events you really should know about


Future-proof your career with advice from futurist Kristin Alford

Despite getting hardly any science education at high school, Karlie Noon completed degrees in maths and physics and now plans postgraduate study in astrophysics. Read her story on page 22.


Science = Art: Pairing creativity with science creates a powerful force


Proof you can do anything: UC chats with mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied


Bridging Gaps: What to do when you miss out on the uni course you wanted


Wearable Tech: You already wear it but what about implanting it?

32 SUSTAINABILITY Reef Warriors: Meet inspiring Aussie researchers working to rescue our reefs


Crack the Code: Discover the musthave skills for your future career


Hot Aussie Start-ups: It takes a fabulous idea, passion and STEM skills to create a great start-up

My Life as an Intern: First-hand advice on interning and volunteering


On-the-job Encounters: A great way to identify the career you really want Cover image/artwork: dlrphoto

Image courtesy of University of Newcastle


CUSTOM PUBLISHED by The Tangello Group Pty Ltd on behalf of Australia's Science Channel, The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide SA 5000. PUBLISHER Lucinda Mitchell - lucinda@tangello.com.au EDITOR Karen McGhee - karen@tangello.com.au ART DIRECTOR Andrew McLagan PHOTO EDITOR Darren Dawkins WRITERS Myles Gough, Kate Arneman, Cris Burne, Lauren Smith, Helen Hughes, Ken Eastwood, Ivy Shih, Carl Williams, Angela Lush, Kristin Alford, Daniel Oldfield NATIONAL ADVERTISING MANAGER Krissy Mander - kristina@tangello.com.au - ph 0410 511 150 uc.australiascience.tv AUSTRALIA’S SCIENCE CHANNEL EDITORIAL PANEL Steve Kern, Tania Meyer. To order print copies/view digital edition go to:



MEMORIES MAKE US unique and bind us to our family and friends through shared experiences. But memories are also fragile. WITH Brain damage from repeated concussions or MYLES GOUGH strokes, as well as degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, can make it difficult to form new memories, or keep old ones that we cherish. Kernel – a start-up tech company based in Silicon Valley in the United States – thinks it has an answer. It’s developing a brain implant designed to enhance memory formation and cognitive function. These implanted devices will aim to mimic the way brain cells communicate with each other, to transform recently learned information into long-term memories. Kernel has already begun testing an early version of the technology on epilepsy patients and hopes to begin clinical trials soon.

Mickey the Baboon courtesy of Monkey Business productions

Image Bigstock



PIG HEARTS SURVIVE FOR YEARS INSIDE BABOONS IT’S THE STUFF of medical science fiction. Take a working heart from one species and transplant it into another species without it missing a beat. A team of researchers from the

National Institutes of Health, in the United States, have reported in the journal Nature Communications that they’ve kept a pig heart alive inside the abdomen of a baboon for more than two years. “It is very significant because it brings us one step closer to using these organs in humans,” heart surgeon and lead researcher Muhammad Mohiuddin told the

AFP news agency. An animal’s immune system would normally reject a transplant between species. But the researchers used hearts from pigs that had been genetically modified to improve the chances of success. The baboons were also given immune-suppressing drugs, which increased their tolerance of the transplanted organs.

Where’s wallet? Research by credit card company Visa suggests 25% of Aussies are “at least slightly interested” in paying for things by using a chip implanted in their skin. Would you do it?



MORE ‘HOBBIT’ REMAINS IN INDONESIA HERE’S AN UPDATE on an amazing discovery in human evolution that first made world headlines in 2003. Back then, scientists working on the Indonesian island of Flores found 200,000-year-old skeletal remains of a small species of extinct human. The species, which was given the scientific name of Homo floresiensis, stood just one metre tall and was affectionately nicknamed the hobbit.

Now, an international team of researchers has uncovered more miniature remains on the island, this time dating back even further – 700,000 years. They include a jaw fragment and six teeth from at least three individuals. Dr Gert van den Bergh, the lead researcher from the University of Wollongong, says the remains were likely to have come from the hobbit’s early ancestors. “It quashes once and for all any doubters who believe Homo floresiensis was merely

a sick modern human,” Dr van den Bergh says. The more likely scenario, he explains, is that “a small group of Homo erectus ended up on Flores about one million years ago and they shrunk.” Dr van den Bergh says human evolution doesn’t always go in one direction towards larger bodies and brains: “Things can actually go in reverse under certain circumstances, like on islands.”

“It quashes once and for all any doubters who believe Homo floresiensis was merely a sick modern human” Image courtesy of Bryn Pinzgauer


TEN MILLION PEOPLE worldwide have vision problems caused by damage to the cornea – the thin, transparent layer at the front of the eye. Currently, the only way to treat the problem is through cornea transplants. But donor corneas are in short supply and the operations don’t always work. Now, University of Melbourne scientists have grown corneal cells on a transparent, biodegradable film, which can be implanted into the eye. These cells help the damaged cornea repair itself. “We believe that our new treatment performs better than a donated cornea,” lead researcher Berkay Ozcelik told the website Fresh Science. The team has successfully restored vision in animal trials, and hopes to move to human trials this year. Image courtesy of Science in Public




MIT student George Ni and the spongy bubble-wrapped contraption that uses sunlight to boil water.

Ima ge c o


of Jeremy Cho

PLASTIC BUBBLE WRAP – the same stuff that protects parcels in the post – could be the key to boiling water cheaply using only sunlight. This remarkable potential development began with a 2014 breakthrough by engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the United States. Back then they showed that a solarabsorbing structure that was basically a floating sponge made from graphite and carbon foam could be used to boil water. The drawback was that it needed light 10 times stronger than sunlight. “I kept asking myself, ‘Can we basically boil water on a rooftop, in normal conditions, without optically concentrating the sunlight?’,” explained MIT engineering professor Dr Gang Chen. And so the team refined its solarabsorbing structure and used new materials that are better at trapping sunlight. But they still faced a key problem: heat loss. As air passed over the surface, the structure cooled down. They turned to bubble wrap. It works like an insulator: sunlight can pass through, but warmed air gets trapped inside its bubbles, so the heat can’t escape. The team was able to boil small amounts of water using direct sunlight, even on relatively cool and overcast days.


24/7 injectable monitoring

Image courtesy of Will Broadway, Isobar

THOUSANDS OF LIVES in remote communities worldwide could be saved by a portable vaccine cooler developed by an engineering student. Vaccines need to be kept at 2–8 degrees Celsius. So, when they are taking days to be delivered to far-flung communities, they need to be stored and transported in some sort of temperature-controlled environment. Most vaccine coolers use ice or cold packs, which freeze the vaccines. But freezing causes vaccines to lose potency, Will Broadway the inventor of a new alternative, told The Guardian. Will is an Industrial Design and Technology student from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. The cooling system he came up with is called ISOBAR (right) and won a 2016 James Dyson Award. It can be carried in a backpack and keeps vaccines at their optimal temperature for up to 30 days. Importantly, in the event of an emergency, if a vehicle breaks down or if there’s a power outage, the system can be easily recharged using propane – a readily available fuel transported in bottles.

RESEARCHERS AT US-based tech company Profusa are injecting sensors the size of a rice grain under their skin. They’re using these to monitor artery disease, muscle performance and wound healing. The sensors currently detect oxygen, but could be adapted to measure glucose, lactic acid, urea and more.




Journey to Jupiter

IN JULY, after nearly five years of space travel, the Juno spacecraft finally arrived at its far-flung destination of Jupiter – 588 million km from Earth. After a tense approach, Juno successfully entered the planet’s orbit and has since executed the first of 36 planned flybys, returning some astonishing images of the gas giant. “First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator for the mission. The spacecraft will spend another two years around Jupiter, trying to learn more about how our solar system’s largest planet formed. nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/pia21030/closing-inon-jupiters-north-pole

Image of Jupiter by Juno courtesy of NASA

months. The researchers say that when the dam eventually burst, more than 300,000 cubic metres of water per second would have been released. “It’s among the largest known floods to have happened on Earth during the past 10,000 years,” said co-author Dr Darryl Granger, from Purdue University in the United States. The team found sediment from the dammed lake high on the walls of the gorge, and 25km downstream at a prehistoric settlement called Laija. They were able to date the sediment at each site to determine the time of the flood.

Good news... for planet Earth WHILE THE CLIMATE change

debate continues to heat up, there’s been a fantastic new development for another major atmospheric pollution problem. Scientists have found evidence suggesting that the thinning ‘hole’ in the ozone layer above Antarctica is healing.

... and a near-Earth asteroid ANOTHER REMARKABLE

mission is underway: this time by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which is charged with recovering space rocks from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu. Asteroids are 4.5 billion-year-old remnants from the early solar system and thought to have played a key role in planet formation. They may have delivered to Earth, for example, the key ingredients necessary for life, including water and other organic molecules. The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, launched last September, will spend a year circling the Sun before chasing down Bennu. It will use an array of rocket thrusters to match the asteroid’s velocity – a blisteringly fast 28 km/s. In July 2020, the spacecraft will perform a daring contact maneuver during which a 3m-long robotic arm will reach out and slap the asteroid’s surface. It will shoot out three bursts of nitrogen gas, stirring up small space rocks and dust, which will then be quickly captured. If all goes to plan, the spacecraft will be able to return about 60 grams of asteroid dust to Earth for analysis in late 2023.


Scientists have found evidence of an ancient flood that kick-started Chinese civilisation ACCORDING TO

LEGEND, the dawn of the Xia dynasty and Chinese civilisation coincided with a great flood, about 4000 years ago. Now, a Chineseled research team has found proof of a massive flood that occurred around 1900 BC, close to the timeline of the mythical disaster. Writing in the journal Science, the team described a devastating flood caused by a landslide in the Jishi Gorge, which created a colossal dam by blocking the great Yellow River for up to nine

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have used observational data from weather balloons and satellites, and computer modelling, to measure the size of the area where the ozone layer has thinned dramatically. The team, led by atmospheric scientist Susan Solomon, found that between 2000 and 2015 the ‘ozone hole’ decreased in size by about 4 million square kilometres – an area equivalent to about half of Australia. The ozone layer is a protective shield in the stratosphere that absorbs most of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Scientists, including Solomon, first noticed a dramatic thinning in the ozone layer above Antarctica in the 1980s. She helped determine that this was caused by human-made substances known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These release chlorine and bromine molecules, which deplete the ozone layer. In 1987, an international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol phased out the production of CFCs by the year 2000. But harmful chlorine, which has a lifetime of about 50-to-100 years, remains in the atmosphere: “It will be many years before the hole closes completely,” Solomon told ABC Science online.

FORGET ABOUT ANCIENT turtles or huge old whales. Scientists in World’s Denmark say they’ve identified Earth’s oldest-living vertebrate species... and it’s a fish. Tests have revealed the Greenland shark (Somniosus oldest microcephalus) can live for at least 272 years, which so far is longer than any other vertebrate we know of. vertebrate considerably The team from the University of Copenhagen examined 28 sharks that had died after being caught in fishing nets, in cold Arctic seas. They determined the ages of these huge fish by carbon dating a layer of eye tissue that remains unchanged from birth. The team estimates that the largest shark, a 5m-long female, was likely to have been about 400 years old, meaning she would have been born in the 1600s. The team also believes Greenland sharks don’t reach sexual maturity until they are 150 years old. Their findings were reported in the journal Science. Image courtesy of NOAA photo library



Future-proof Your Career Image courtesy of Nan Palmero





S YOU PLAN for the next few years of study and consider career options, you will hear a lot of advice! In a digitally rich future, for example, you should learn to code (read more on p38). This will enable you to create new apps, software, games and virtual worlds. You should be able to analyse data. Think about the opportunities that are coming with the Internet of Things, where our household’s objects are linked to the internet and we continuously collect real-time data, such as energy use from households or the health of suburbs based on daily steps taken by the people living in them. You’ll hear a lot about how, with an ageing population, you should consider caring professions like occupational therapy and nursing. Or maybe you should think about developing new medical devices that prevent falls or better control heart disease and diabetes. You might even be told that, in an uncertain future, you should choose something safe: think electricians, doctors, teachers or lawyers. But are these even safe any more? With automation and artificial intelligence, you might not even have a job!


IF THERE’S ANYTHING the last few years of change have shown us, it’s that the future isn’t predictable. To truly future-proof your career, your first step should be to think beyond the obvious technological change and imagine new possibilities. Here are some hot tips for careers beyond the obvious!


At the same time our technology advances, so does our impact on the environment. So how might people-focussed businesses – those that adopt technologies to deliver more sustainable living – respond? Some already exist like architects developing green buildings, or scientists printing textile solar cells. But think about vegan butchers using food technologies to design tofu products that look and taste like juicy hamburgers, or use cells from a cow to grow steaks in the laboratory. Think high-tech, consumer-focused products that better serve the environment.

Think also of computational philosophers who might observe the way that artificial intelligence is learning and thinking. They can let us know when an algorithm mirrors the unconscious biases of the software writer who created it, or it reflects racism inherent in our institutions. We can then make a change to the system to be more inclusive.


Anyone can now write a blog or film a video that goes direct to the public. But this used to be the role of journalists and publishers. People are now increasingly creating and consuming services and products. Journalism is just one clear example, but 3D printing allows the same sort of ‘citizen participation’ for manufacturing. Urban food is another area in which people might scale up their own outputs assisted by sharing economy platforms to make better use of skills and assets. While the platforms might evolve, the design of new technologies will lead to new careers. The prosumer infrastructure provider might, for example, develop new pricing mechanisms using blockchain technology, which is able to continuously grow databases. Or another example would be new hardware and software that allowed for sharing solar energy amongst neighbours.


The pace of change is fast and many people find change difficult. The role of transitioners is to help us manage that. There could be roles for people to manage the technical systems in our homes, schools and workplaces as technologies are updated. They’d help us live with and adapt to a combination of new and lag technologies that hit us so fast many people can’t keep up, all requiring different operating systems, cables and ports. It may be that we need more caring approaches to transitions. Think for example about the potential need for grief counsellors to help us deal with our reliance on fossil fuels: to help us say thank you for an improved quality-of-life as we move on to more sustainable energies; or to help us farewell cultural and social patterns that are no longer fair or useful. The important thing about each of these four potential future job categories is that they are imagined from weak signals of change. But they all make a lot of sense. You can start to imagine your own possibilities too.


THE SECOND STEP in future-proofing your career is to develop a set of capabilities that are transferable across job roles, rather than focusing on the job. It’s helpful to study a discipline that will give you a framework for solving problems. Engineering helps with thinking about processes and systems. Dancing provides spatial awareness and flow. Other disciplines will bring other perspectives. All are helpful when we are trying to sort and categorise ambiguous information. Having deep knowledge about something – in one particular area – As long as men continue to dominate the development of robotics and will remain important, even in an information-rich world where we can artificially intelligent technologies, developers run the risk of assuming those search for anything immediately. Deep knowledge is important to make products will meet the needs of everyone... but they don’t. Here are a few creative leaps of connection across disciplines, for things that aren’t yet examples of issues this causes already. Service software like searchable. Creative leaps across knowledge domains are also Siri and Alexa default to female names and voices; health apps harder to automate. have taken years to remember that female bodies are different; In a world where we are trapped by desks and screens, it’s wearables are over-sized for women; and investment is being important to find a way of grounding yourself physically. We’ve poured into smart devices that serve just 1% of the population. had a habit of separating trades from abstract thinking, but the combination of heads and hands allows for more creative Ethno-roboticists challenge the assumptions that go into expression in prototyping ideas, or producing items that can’t be design and design instead for difference. They might draw in DR KRISTIN ALFORD replicated by anyone else. potential consumers to co-design products. Another role for is a futurist and Finally, developing a self-awareness that allows you to recognise ethno-roboticists is to look for connections between human and director of the new your strengths and interests so you can identify work that matches robot work. For example, physiotherapists have already been Science Creativity Education Studio your purpose will make work more meaningful. using personalised interactive NAO robots to work with children at the University Things are going to get weird. Don’t listen to prophets who in rehabilitation to encourage them to complete their exercises. of South Australia, promise you answers. Listen to those with imagination and purpose Doing this means patients are more likely to do what their physios which opens in 2018. and you’ll do fine at navigating this yourself. ask of them and that, of course, means improved health outcomes.




with Defence Science and Technology Can Dutch plastic protect Australian tanks? That’s the question Long Nguyen’s answering. He’s testing ways to strengthen and lighten Australia’s armour, using the same plastic as shopping bags and water bottles. Want to help Long build the models and test them in the field? Join our Industry Experience Placement program.

For more information visit www.dsto.defence.gov.au/careers




The shape you see in this image by Fabian Oefner – a Swiss artist who uses science to produce stunning images that reveal how the natural world works – is only about the size of a thumbnail. It is created with the aid of a very peculiar material: ferrofluid. This liquid has a unique property. It is magnetic, caused by the millions of nano iron particles in it. When put under a magnetic field, the particles in the solution start to rearrange due to the attraction and repulsion of iron. When watercolours are added to the ferrofluid, the pop-art looking structures start to appear, forming into black channels and tiny ponds filled with rainbowcoloured surfaces. The reason why the black ferrofluid and the watercolours don’t mix is that ferrofluid is, like oil, hydrophobic. It doesn’t mix with the watercolours. At the same time it is held in position by the magnet underneath it. So it tries to find a way around the watercolours and therefore forms these black channels.



’VE LEARNED as a microscopist that art can be a great tool for communicating science, technology, engineering and maths because of its capacity to engage and inspire. Even professionals working at research frontiers can benefit from artistic endeavours providing new insights and stimulating further understanding. And so there is a growing focus in education to combine the creative arts with STEM to deliver innovation.

In my own work, at the RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility (RMMF), in Melbourne, I often operate at the junction of science and art. As a microscopist, I’m employed to maintain and supervise the use of microscopy equipment by PhD students, professors, industry researchers and other clientele. And while the images I capture provide real insight to biological and other structures, they also attract attention because they reveal the beauty and artistry of form and function in an otherwise hidden world. The RMMF operates a variety of different types of microscopes: optical, electron and atomic force microscopes. I specialise in the use of scanning

Image courtesy of fabianoefner.com

When art meets science




Daniel Oldfield’s Bee Wing image (right) was captured using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). As SEMs operate under high vacuum it is vital to dehydrate biological samples like this to prevent ‘outgassing’. Before imaging, the bee wing was coated in a conductive layer of gold, which minimises charging and reduces thermal damage. Holly Renee models her Mars Terraform dress and behind is her Fibonacci Sequence Dress.

Image courtesy of sugargamers.com

For a details of how artist Fabian Oefner used centrifugal force to create the piece entitled Black Hole (above) visit bit.ly/2gnbFV2


electron microscopes (SEMs), which work in a similar way to optical microscopes but instead of using visible light and glass lenses, use an electron beam and lenses created by magnetic fields. Because the wavelength of an electron is much smaller than that of visible light, an SEM can resolve features less than 1nm. I have used SEMs to study a variety of samples, including fossils, insects and plants. To share the images I take in the laboratory, I have created an online profile, The Microscopist. And through social media I’ve created a visual portfolio that not only showcases my abilities as a microscopist but also provides a medium for other scientists to share their work with the public. My work as a microscopist has also brought me into contact with a variety of other people operating at the intersection of science and art. For example at Uprosa, a company based in England, science and art

combine to present complicated research through image-based products. This company, which was created by Cambridge and Oxford students, now works with researchers from top institutes across the world to produce a catalogue of smartphone and laptop cases that feature real microscopy images. Dr Scott Camazine – a research biologist, physician, photographer and medical illustrator at Harvard University – is one scientist collaborating on the project. Another is University of London research assistant Dr Ngoc Lu-Nguyen, who is interested in using gene therapy to treat neuromuscular diseases such as Parkinson’s. The researchers and their work benefit through a 15% commission on each sale through Uprosa. At the same time, with the support of scientists around the world, Uprosa is helping spread an appreciation for scientific imagery into mainstream culture. Holly Renee, from California-based company Shenova, produces dresses that have been inspired by women working in STEM. Included in Shenova’s diverse range of dresses on offer is one with a double helix print. This was inspired by Holly’s mother who worked in genetics and often showed her daughter DNA analysis reports when she was a child. Holly also describes the dress as a fitting tribute to early-20th century X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin. This ground-breaking scientist


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Image courtesy of Daniel Oldfield


is considered by many to have been an unsung hero for the major role she played in determining the molecular structure of DNA. Another dress in the Shenova collection celebrates the recent discovery of gravitational waves by detectors at LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, in the United States). And another – my personal favourite – is a dress that sports a NASA image of Jupiter’s gaseous atmosphere. Through her company, Holly is both empowering women working in STEM and motivating a public conversation around science.

Science by design

Melbourne-based designer Leah Heiss is another person combining art and science in her creations. She is collaborating with experts in a range of disciplines, from nanotechnology through to manufacturing. Leah has worked on a host of projects, from a programmable hearing aid to jewellery capable of treating diabetes. By using an array of micro-needles, the diabetes jewellery replaces the need for insulin delivery by syringe. Leah’s work proves that incorporating cutting-edge science with art can lead to the production of visually attractive medical devices free of commonly held social stigmas. When it comes to understanding the complex world of fluid dynamics and its application in science and engineering, high-speed photography can be useful. It can capture images that help to visually represent the laws of physics that come into play as fluids move. And there’s no doubt those images can be particularly evocative in an artistically creative way. “High-speed photography crosses the chasm that sometimes separates art and science, showing us the intrinsic beauty that exists in the order of nature,” explains Phred Petersen, a senior lecturer in the Bachelor of Arts


Image courtesy of Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT

The centre of an Arctotis flower from the author’s garden looks like puffy pink pillows, in an SEM image (left). Drift, by designer Leah Heiss (below), comprises interactive pulsing pods that investigate social behaviours. Below that is Citrus Ocean, one of the smartphone cases produced by UK-based company Uprosa showing microscope images.

Photography program at RMIT University, in Melbourne. Highspeed photographs by Phred that capture the wing action of a locust in a wind tunnel clearly demonstrate the link between science and nature’s beauty. Meanwhile, the research has provided insights into the design of micro air vehicles – also known as MAVs or drones – that can be used for commercial, research, government and military applications. In line with the belief that scientific research and design can benefit from the influence of art, most Australian universities are allowing greater flexibility to build double degree options that tap into both science and art subjects. And that includes areas that would be more traditionally associated with the creative arts. The University of NSW is one that goes even further by specifically offering a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Science dual degree that “supports the collaboration between the arts and sciences... [and] enables students to complete a Major sequence from those available in the Bachelor of Science and complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts, where students can study a wide range of fine art, design and media art disciplines.” see www.artdesign.unsw.edu. au/future-students/undergraduatedegrees/fine-arts-science. It all shows a growing realisation that you don’t need to choose between the arts and science. You truly can do both.



This woman is

you can do anything you set your mind to

Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a mechanical engineer, social activist and founder of Youth Without Borders, which works to improve the lives of young people and their commmunities. She’s also a self-confessed petrol-head who was born in the north-east African nation of Sudan and grew up with her parents and brother in Brisbane. Helen Hughes talked with her about her life as a young Muslim woman working in a male-dominated field, her support of young people and her obsession with motor racing.



Ultimate Careers: How did you end up working on oil rigs. Yassmin: I studied mechanical engineering at The University of Queensland. I wanted to work in Formula One [a top tier of car racing], so I designed car chassis for my university’s race team. After that, I got into a masters of motorsport at a university in the UK. But I had to save up for it, so I came back to Australia and got a job working on oil rigs across Australia. UC: How did you pick what you wanted to study at university? Yassmin: It was so hard! I had so many different interests. I knew I wanted to change the world and help people so I thought maybe law or international relations. But, I also dreamt about being the first female Formula One driver, even though I definitely wasn’t on track for that. I just tried so many different things. I went to university open days and did work experience in so many different places to try and get an understanding of what different jobs would be like. It was really important because it’s hard to know what a job is like before you get there. But, once I picked engineering, I knew that was it. I wanted to work in cars, and I knew I could use engineering as a tangible way to help people. I could actually build solutions to the world’s problems.

UC: What does your work on oil rigs involve? Yassmin: My first job in the oil field was as a Measurement While Drilling Specialist. I was in charge of all the tools that told us which direction and what we were drilling through. It was part hands-on work and part data analysis; not quite what I had studied, but the skills I had from engineering ended up being really useful. From there, I worked as a Well Site Engineer, which is what I’m doing now. Basically it means I design the well. I help supervise different operations, do different calculations and train up to be a Drilling Supervisor, my next role. That will be essentially running the rig – supervising 100-150 people. It’s huge. There are day shifts and night shifts, so you only directly supervise half the number of people on the rig but there’s still a lot of moving parts. UC: It’s a very male-dominated environment. Is it difficult? Yassmin: It’s not much of an adjustment. Any girl who does engineering is pretty used to working in a male-dominated environment. You can’t force the culture to change so you adjust – rightly or wrongly – to the culture that already exists but you find what you’re comfortable with and you get to set the tone for the language that is used. At the end of the day it’s a professional workplace and that comes first.

Image courtesy of Motor Mouth podcast team Copyright ABC Radio




UC: You founded Youth Without Borders while still in high school. What drove you to do this? Yassmin: I had attended the Asia Pacific Cities Summit, which brought together young people from around the region. We talked about what we were doing and the organisations we were part of. I saw what everyone was involved in but they weren’t working together, so Youth Without Borders was founded to get people and organisations to work together and create positive change. I had no idea where it was going to go. I think that’s the benefit of doing something like that in high school – you’re less worried about what people think and what might go wrong. It lets you focus more on the work, which is the most important thing.

“Don’t let anybody limit what you’ve got.”

UC: What Youth Without Borders project are you most proud of? Yassmin: My favourite project is the Spark Engineering Camp. It’s a camp for young people who wouldn’t normally consider going to university. We sponsor them to attend a week-long camp at a university and show that it can be an option for them. So many of the kids we work with have never had someone believe in them so sometimes that’s all it takes. It’s incredible to see the difference that belief makes: we have students coming back year after year saying, “I would never have considered going to university, but this has changed my life”. UC: There aren’t many prominent Muslim women working in STEMbased industries so who or what most influenced you growing up? Yassmin: The reality was that there weren’t many young Muslims working in anything in Australia while I was growing up. But I was lucky. I had family who were engineers and doctors. They were back in Sudan, sure, but I knew it was possible. I also had my parents, so I never really thought of myself as different. My experience is almost contrary because everyone in my life worked in STEM, so I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else. I’m very fortunate, but it’s not everyone’s reality.


“I knew I could use engineering as a tangible way to help people.”

There are so few stories of Muslim women by Muslim women – and then there’s no experience beyond marriage or wearing the headscarf. I want to give an alternative, to show that there’s more to us than what we wear and who we marry. UC: What’s your advice for young women wanting to pursue a STEM-based career? Yassmin: Do it, 150 percent! Don’t let anybody limit what you’ve got. We, as women, can almost

pre-emptively diminish ourselves, and that’s really dangerous. Always back yourself and back your friends, too: I have relied so much on the people who have backed me throughout my life. Grab every opportunity tightly and run with it. I’m a big believer in taking every opportunity, however it comes. The world is unfair, so you have to be able to take what comes in your path and squeeze every bit of juice out of it because you don’t know how long that opportunity might last.

Yassmin’s first book, Yassmin’s story: Who do you think I am?, was published in 2016 by Penguin Random House Racing image courtesy of Motor Mouth podcast team Copyright ABC Radio, other images courtesy of Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

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Bridging gaps


ARLIE NOON may be the most unlikely person ever to gain a double degree in maths and physics. She barely went to school as she was growing up in the NSW country town of Tamworth, and didn’t even know what science was back then. “You only really see science when you get to high school,” Karlie explains, “and I didn’t really go to high school.” But in September last year, Karlie became the first Indigenous person in NSW to graduate with a Bachelor of Science (Physics) and a Bachelor of Mathematics. (She’s also the first member of her family to complete a university degree.) She’s now planning postgraduate study in astrophysics. Like so many of today’s uni students, Karlie’s pathway to a degree wasn’t the dream run of choosing what she wanted to do for the rest of her life in year 10, then completing prerequisite subjects and getting the necessary ATAR. “I’m a big believer that there are a lot of pathways,” Karlie says. “People say that getting a good ATAR is the easiest way – I’m not entirely convinced of that. I got a horrible ATAR, but I could still do what I wanted to do.” As “horrible” as Karlie says her ATAR was, it was good enough for her to get her foot in the door at the University of Newcastle (UON) in 2008 and



begin a Bachelor of Arts. “I didn’t know what else to do to be honest,” she says. “I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I liked learning and I thought I’d give it a go. It was a bit of a shrug moment.”


SO, HOW DID someone with hardly any science in high school end up on a pathway to a double degree in two of the most hard-core science disciplines? Karlie was introduced to advanced physics concepts when one of her uni arts classes discussed philosophy and the scientific evidence for the existence of God. “I wrote an essay on the ‘multiverse’ and the different possibilities that come with that,” she says. Suddenly, she was hooked on physics and decided to transfer over to maths and physics degrees. Karlie recalls that while the process of transferring was easy, it was then extremely difficult to catch up on all the background information she lacked through her poor schooling. “For my first year, I pretty much failed every subject,” she admits. “I spent a lot of time using programs like MathsOnline [ www.mathsonline.com.au]; basically I taught myself year 11 and year 12 advanced maths.” Karlie also spent hours studying physics online, and gradually things started coming together. “There’s so much available online,” she says. “For example, MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the United States] has a full introduction to biology course for free. It’s free to everyone! “I knew it was going to be really hard, and I had to persevere through it.” Despite her eventual success, Karlie’s advice to other high school


Images of Karlie courtesy of University of Newcastle

Despite getting hardly any science education at high school, Karlie Noon completed degrees in maths and physics and now plans postgraduate study in astrophysics.



students is to try to avoid her path if possible. “If you are remotely interested in anything to do with maths, science or engineering at university, definitely choose advanced maths at school,” she advises. “It can be so beneficial to you if you go to uni and, say, do civil engineering. It can be your lifesaver.”


THERE ARE SO many different ways to get into a degree now, says Associate Professor Seamus Fagan, Director of the Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies at UON. “The number one piece of advice would be if you’re looking to do a STEM degree, definitely choose the assumed and recommended subjects listed for the degree on the website, because that will ensure you are as prepared as you possibly could be,” he advises. “But depending on the degree and the approach, there are many different ways to get into a course. Regardless of how well you go, there is always another option.” Last year almost 1000 students enrolled in UON’s Newstep, a free, year-long study program designed for students aged 18–20, who didn’t get the ATAR they needed to start a degree. Prof Fagan says it’s particularly useful for those wanting to do STEM degrees because it includes physics, chemistry and mathematics. Older students can do an intensive six-month or part-time version of a similar course, and students who pass then gain entry into the degrees they want. Unlike swapping between degrees, the Newstep program won’t result in any subject credits. But it can make the transition to university life so much easier. “Last year about 20% of our undergraduate students came from one of those enabling programs, or foundation programs as we call them,” Prof Fagan says. He explains that in addition to these courses, UON also offers 19 different intensive 3–5-day refreshers on subjects such as maths and science. But those courses are more suited to someone who has had a gap year and wants a quick reboot before starting uni, rather than someone trying to learn all of year 11 and 12 in one quick hit. “It’s not designed to replace doing it in year 11 and 12, but it will assist in bridging the gap of time.” Prof Fagan says.

Entry into uni wasn’t straightforward for Karlie Noon (left), Daniel Larsen (below) or Aime Needs (right), but each found a way to get into the course they wanted.

The university also offers three free online MOOCS to anyone, on maths, chemistry and life sciences, as well as a general academic skills course. For more on UON bridging and refresher courses: www.newcastle.edu.au/ future-students/uonprep-bridging-courses/whats-in-the-program


OTHER INSTITUTIONS offer bridging courses that will entitle students to gain entry into a STEM course if they haven’t fulfilled school subject prerequisites. For example, many science and health science degrees at James Cook University (JCU), based in North Queensland, require chemistry and advanced maths. Bridging courses can be completed before starting university to fulfil these requirements if a student didn’t do those subjects at school. The maths course can be completed during a semester: as 39 hours of lectures and 13 hours of prac; as an intensive three-week program (four hours a day for three weeks); or even externally as 26 hours of online lectures and 13 hours of online pracs. JCU’s chemistry bridging course can also be done as an intensive block during summer. Alternatively the 39 hours of lectures, 13 hours of tutorials and 21 hours of pracs can be spread across a semester. Daniel Larsen needed to complete bridging courses in English and maths when he decided to study engineering and science (physics) degrees at JCU. “I basically flunked year 12,” he admits. Daniel became a licensed plumber for a few years, but the idea of doing research in robotics really appealed, so he researched alternate pathways into university. Two years ago JCU began offering a new, one-year Diploma of Higher Education that includes maths, English, science and engineering subjects, allowing someone like Daniel not just to meet course prerequisites, but complete some subjects ahead of starting an engineering degree. “I figured it would be a good stepping stone,” Daniel says. “It’s a really good way to teach you how to study. It teaches you to get into the pattern of learning.”

Image supplied by Daniel Larsen



Image supplied by Aime Needs

“I got a horrible ATAR, but I could still do what I wanted to do.”

SOME INSTITUTIONS have moved right away from the concept of using only an entry mark to get into a degree, preferring multiple techniques to help identify a particular type of student. The Joint Medical Program at the University of Newcastle and University of New England is famous for pioneering a move away from a pure academic-based entry requirement, to one based on a range of factors, including personality, communication skills and the ability to solve problems. “The ATAR is not the only single measure of success or ‘fit’ or ability to be a doctor,” Prof Fagan says. The change has worked. With a lowered ATAR requirement of 91.4 in rural areas, or 94.3 in urban areas, the 170 places in the Bachelor of Medicine between the two institutions are the most fiercely competitive in the state. “We have pioneered that method of assessing entry and take it very seriously. It’s been evaluated and refined over a long period of time,” Prof Fagan says.



University with an ATAR around 96. “I’d always been interested in people, but the law side of things was actually what I thought I would go into,” Aime says. But one year into the double degree, Aime stopped enjoying DOMINIC FITZSIMMONS, a student program coordinator at the University her studies as she became bogged down in contract law “and the slightly of New South Wales (UNSW), says many students now start one degree dull stuff that goes with a law degree.” with the intention of changing over once they’re at the institution. “There’s a “And I was being told that to get anywhere in law you’d have to step on lot more opportunity now to get into the system and change once you’re in,” people and I didn’t want to do that,” she recalls. Dominic says. “I know one female student who got into general science and Aime took some time off and began exploring other options. “A driving then decided she wanted to get into microbiology, so did the maths bridging force for me was being able to help people,” she says. “I could do that in program and specialist courses to get up to the level she needed. law, but I wanted more practical, one-on-one ways to assist people.” “Another wanted to go into engineering, did a first-year science program, I’d always had a bit of interest in medical fields, even though I didn’t did a maths bridging course and then transferred into engineering.” The take any science subjects at school.” number of previously completed university subjects that will be credited to The more she explored options, the more it seemed that a student when they change degrees depends on which courses switching to nursing would suit, even though she wouldn’t get they are changing from and to. any credits for previous study. “I think I can really be fulfilled Like many institutions, UNSW offers a free year-long doing that,” she thought. And she is. Aime has finished her Prep Program – although it is one-and-a-half years for first year of nursing and is loving it. She was offered bridging engineering – for those wanting to get into a degree but courses in biology and chemistry when she switched to didn’t achieve the ATAR they needed. The uni also offers a KEN nursing, but decided to just launch in and see how she went. similar but shorter program for mature age students. The Prep EASTWOOD She managed to keep up with the rest of the students without Program is particularly designed for socially or educationally is a Sydney-based communicator doing any additional courses. disadvantaged students. “Every uni offers something like this – with experience Aime says she knows lots of people who have changed our programs have just been around a little bit longer,” Dominic in magazines, degrees mid-stream. “There’s more than one way to get into says. “We want as many people to get the chance to come to newspapers, radio, TV and what you want to do,” she says. Her advice to school students uni as possible.” digital media. He picking subjects is: “Do subjects that you are at least a little is the part-time bit interested in – it makes it so much easier to study. Go with associated editor of OUTBACK where your strengths lie and don’t worry too much about UNLIKE KARLIE and Daniel, Sydneysider Aime Needs had a magazine and a the prerequisites that a uni says you have to do. If you are good academic experience at school. She got into the Bachelor long-time science determined to get into a degree, you’ll do it.” of Law and Bachelor of Psychology double degree at Macquarie enthusiast.



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Tech in your clothes and under your skin




APPING AWAY AT A screen or keyboard is so last year! What would you think if I said you could achieve the same results by stroking your tattoo, snapping your fingers or even just sleeping? Whether you want to climb mountains, pay for coffee, visit your doctor – or you’re a gamer using flamethrowers and chainsaws to destroy mutant creatures in derelict mansions – there’s something wearable, implantable or ingestible to help you do it. Wearables are blasting into everything from health and fashion to gaming and sport, so whatever you’re in to there’s bound to be a team of creative people developing cool and tiny tech to help you do it. Here’s what’s happening, and how to be part of it. The ‘Alert Shirt’ is a fan jersey that uses wearable technology to take the experience into the physical world, allowing fans to feel what the players feel live as it happens during the game.


THERE WAS A TIME when computers were the size of houses – seriously. Now you can strap them on your wrist, inject them under your skin or wear them as an outfit. From wedding rings to contact lenses, the stuff we wear can now be integrated digitally and intimately with the things we do. Our relationship with data and technology is changing, and so is the way we live. “The current major focus is on wrist-worn wearables, such as the Fitbit, and making smart watches more useful,” says Professor Bruce Thomas, who heads up the University of South Australia’s Wearable Computer Lab. “This is only the tip of the iceberg.” Prof Thomas works at the frontier of wearable evolution, where he says there are awesome job opportunities. “If you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing in life, go find one,” he advises. “The major areas for wearables are electronics, user interfaces and application development. This requires skills in computer science, electrical engineering and design. “This is very fun! You could be making a whole new way to interact with the data all around you.”


BY WEAVING FABRICS from conductive thread, you can embed electronics into an outfit. This thread looks and behaves like ordinary sewing thread except that it can carry a current, meaning it can be used instead of wires in devices sewn into clothes. The thread is stocked by specialist electronics suppliers but any keen dressmaker would be able to use it. Google is teaming up with jeans manufacturer Levi’s to create jackets that allow you to answer your phone or operate your TV, all with the touch of your sleeve. Researchers are even working on fabrics that filter out embarrassing odours, moisturise your skin or store the energy you generate when you move.

Google’s Project Jacquard allows wearers to control their mobile experience and connect to a variety of services, such as music or maps, directly from their jacket.

Image courtesy of WearableX.com

Image courtesy of Levi’s


Image courtesy of Rashml Gupta


Dr Fitbit

Have you had a fall? Is your heart rate spiking? Is your blood sugar too low? What if your wearable activity tracker was a hotline to your doctor? Researchers are working on ingestible microcomputers that can text doctors from inside your body. Engineers at UNSW are trying to work out how this data can be sent securely.

Image courtesy of Pravia

Image courtesy of Chaotic Moon


Image courtesy of Spectacles.com

The camera built into Snapchat’s ‘Spectacles’ lets you shoot video that shows the world from your point of view.

In another e-clothing application you can feel what a footy player feels by wearing the ultimate fan tee: Alert Shirt. This shirt feeds live sports data into its smart fabric, giving its wearer a real feel for the on-field action. wearableexperiments. com/alert-shirt/ And if you’re really into gaming you probably know that virtual reality headsets like Google Glass and Oculus Rift are already being combined with smart fabrics. In the same ‘smartglasses’ space as Google Glass – which to be honest hasn’t really set the world on fire – comes Snapchat Spectacles (above), a possible alternative that might do a little better in the marketplace. They record video, can be paired to your phone and come from the same people behind the Snapchat social media app. spectacles.com

In one form, technology and tattoos merge in devices known as ‘tech tats’.

Image courtesy of CSIRO



IT’S ART. IT’S technology. It’s computer chips embedded beneath the skin, injected micro-particles and implantable skin mesh. And not so long ago it was all still science fiction but now it’s reality. In one form, technology and tattoos merge in devices known as ‘tech tats’. vimeo.com/144913588. These are made with conductive paint and other components that can be incorporated into a circuit so that they are able to collect and store data. They can monitor your body, dial your phone or unlock your car, and all with just the wave of a hand.

EVERY HOUR THAT an aeroplane is grounded costs $12,000. To return planes to the air faster, scientists at Australia’s national researcher, CSIRO, have developed smart helmet technology called Guardian Mentor Remote (GMR). By wearing it you can link to a remote expert in real-time, share what you’re seeing, get the right advice, and repair a problem on the spot. The same tech can be used for medical emergencies, car breakdowns and even assembling IKEA furniture. UNSW’s Dr Julien Epps (see ‘Working on the frontier’, p30) predicts that this kind of tech is going to be huge. “Strap a webcam to your forehead, connect to an expert, and be guided through,” he says. “Remote ‘teleassistance’ is already possible… Soon everyone will be sharing what they’re doing with experts around the world.”

Naughty, naughty

Image courtesy of Pavlok

Want to break a bad habit? Try Pavlok, pavlok.com a wrist wearable that electrocutes the wearer for breaking rules. Eating junk food? Electric zap! Biting your nails? Electric zap! You make the rules and you choose the voltage.

Images courtesy of Hugh Herr


Profile: The bionic rock climber

“I DON’T SEE DISABILITY, I see bad technology.” That’s Hugh Herr’s perspective on the world. Hugh, who’s also known as Bionic Man, is a biomechatronics researcher and elite rock climber. At 17 he lost both legs in an ice climbing accident. Some people viewed his body as ‘broken,’ but Hugh saw only busted technology, so he set out to fix it. First, he made himself a pair of prosthetic legs with pointed feet, so he could climb even faster than before. Then he decided to study maths and robotics at uni. Today he’s the inventor of BiOM: robotic legs that integrate with the human body to mimic the function of missing muscles and tendons. Thanks to Hugh’s invention, amputees can run, climb and dance again. ULTIMATE CAREERS I 29




Associate Professor in Signal Processing, University of NSW What do you work on? Wearables worn on the head. I love sensors, and a great place to put sensors is on the face, because that’s where a lot of interesting things happen. I’ve been working on understanding human emotional and mental states by tracking behavioural signals; things like speech, eye activity and body movement. I love it. How did you get here? My background is electrical engineering at UNSW. Advice for people wanting to work in your area It’s surprising how quickly you can learn by using online tools. Be curious. Start investigating things. Wearables are a huge world of opportunity, because there are so many things you could do. What do you see for the future? Entire industry sectors will be invented because of wearables. Within a generation, a lot of the things we’ll be wearing will be electronic, or have functionality embedded in them. A lot of the things we’re going to take for granted haven’t been invented yet. There’s a huge revolution about to happen.


Biomechatronics engineer, Victoria University, Melbourne What’s your focus? Research into wearable robotics: I have a passion for assistive and rehabilitation technology. I’m looking at electroactive polymers [materials that change size or shape when activated by electricity] and whether they can be used in hand exoskeleton applications [artificial hands]. How did you get here? I did sports engineering at Victoria University, Melbourne. I was really into fitness sports and wanted to engineer for people. Both my grandparents had strokes, and that’s what prompted me to ask what’s out there for rehabilitation? During my degree I did two internships in robotics, and that’s where I really found my passion. I thought about it for a couple of years, then I built a hand exoskeleton for stroke rehabilitation in my final year. I 3D-printed the hand components, built the electronics and made it all wireless, with a user interface and realtime graphing so you could see improvements in hand function. Advice for people wanting to work in your area Engineering isn’t just about bridges, concrete and cars. It’s about taking real-world problems and creating solutions. You can do anything you’re passionate about with engineering. Think broader. Think bigger. How can you make a difference? What do you see for the future? I think wearable robotics will be used with augmented reality to create really amazing rehabilitation tools.

Skill up

Image courtesy of UNSW

To join the wearable revolution you could study electrical engineering, industrial design, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, computer engineering and more. Ask at your local university. 30 I ULTIMATE CAREERS



DR INGRID RICHARDSON gets paid to play games and watch cat videos. She’s an Associate Professor in Digital Media at Murdoch University, in Perth, and studies the way new technologies are impacting our lives. “We’re seeing new modes of communication. We’re seeing changes in the way we interact,” Dr Richardson says. “Every space we experience is now informed by an additional informational layer.” Her advice for anyone wanting to invent their own wearable technology is to remember who’s wearing it: think beyond what is possible and target what is popular. “The way people take up technology is often unintended by designers of technology,” Dr Richardson explains. “New technologies have to be able to fit into people’s lives, so look at the history of the way people take up technology. Think critically about your own life, how you and your family use technology, what you like about it, what you don’t like. Then put that in the broader context of society’s use.” Dr Richardson’s tip for the next big thing in wearables? Augmented reality, which is where computer-generated images integrate with what’s going on in the real world. “People seem much more comfortable with augmented reality than virtual reality, because they can integrate it into their everyday lives,” she explains. “It’s an avenue that’s really starting to take off, like we’re seeing with the huge uptake of Pokémon Go and other mobile apps.”


Want to know what Coco your cat gets up to at night? Concerned about Bluey’s fitness? You’re not alone. Wearable pet tech is already worth more than $2.6 billion a year worldwide. “People use it as a way of understanding their pet’s behaviour and issues,” Dr Richardson says. “You can put cameras and GPS onto pets to experience what they experience.” You can also monitor their heart rate, track their sleeping patterns or even measure their ‘friskiness’. And check out the MooMonitor+, a cow-wearable that lets farmers know when their cows are keen to breed. moomonitor.dairymaster.com/


OF COURSE THE ultimate wearables are replacements for worn out, diseased or faulty body parts. Perhaps the most famous so far is the incredible cochlear implant – also known as the bionic ear – an implantable device that more than 300,000 people now use every day to help them hear. Then, of course, there’s been much talk about work on a bionic eye, which is said to soon be coming our way. But already closer to reality is the ‘wearable kidney’. Currently artificial kidneys, also known as hemodialysis machines, look like antique versions of R2-D2 although for patients with dodgy kidneys they’re lifesaving technology. Unfortunately, they’re also a time-consuming hassle. Patients can CRIS BURNE spend hours each day sitting around hooked up to has worked as a science writer, their artificial kidney, waiting for it to filter waste editor and products from their blood. presenter in Now inventors have created a wearable artificial Switzerland, the US, UK, kidney. It’s small enough to be carried around, but Japan and advanced enough to do the job. Human trials are South Africa. already underway, with users reporting great quality She now lives and works in Perth. of life and fewer hospital visits.

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Image courtesy of Griffith University



reef warriors

Meet our



GULPED IN A lungful of oxygen, kicked my legs and dived down. Out of the inky black beneath me rose a huge spotted blue creature, as long as a school bus. I swam beside it, desperate to reach out and run my fingers along its ridged skin. But I kept a respectful distance, knowing the strength in its huge pectoral fins and sweeping tail was enough to break my arm. That awesome experience with a whale shark was the first time I’d snorkelled on a reef – in this case, the stunning Ningaloo Reef off Western Australia – and from that moment I was hooked. (Apologies for the fishy pun!) In the years since then, it seems like every new story or study published about reefs – in Australia and elsewhere – warns about their demise. Ningaloo and her massive sister on the other side of the country, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), as well as fringing reefs along our continent’s north coast and the rocky reefs of the south coast are all under threat. But this story doesn’t have to end badly. There’s an army of researchers out there working on the frontline to make sure these

extraordinary habitats survive. So come and meet some of Australia’s reef warriors and be inspired to join them.

MICROPLASTIC MISSION UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA marine scientist Dr Harriet Paterson is investigating a pollution problem the world is only beginning to get its head around – microplastics. These are particles of plastic smaller than a millimetre, so we hardly notice them, but there’s mounting evidence that they’re particularly harmful to the animals living in marine habitats such as reefs. Dr Paterson is one of the leaders of a survey trying to determine the extent of microplastic pollution along the south-west WA coastline. It’s a project with a significant citizen science component; enlisting the help of primary school groups from Esperance to Jerramungup, to visit beach sites, take sand samples and identify what microplastics are present. Plastic pollution generally in marine environments is a growing problem and Dr Paterson has previously spent three years working on how microplastics affect seabirds. “We keep producing [plastic] because our lifestyles rely on it and it keeps getting into the ocean,” she explains. “We are only just beginning to understand the biological consequences.” Her work is part of the beginning of a shift in the global understanding of plastic pollution. “Dealing with plastics in the environment is going to be an important issue in the future. There will be jobs that we have not yet thought about that will be developed to tackle the effect of plastics,” Dr Paterson says. “Engineers will need to develop new materials that can replace plastic and are environmentally safe. Other

engineers will need to figure out how to remove plastics from the environment. Psychologists will need to facilitate behaviour change in a global population that has a dependence on plastics. And biologists will need to help wildlife and plants get past the harmful effects of plastic.”

TESTING A TELL-TALE ALGAE THE MAIN THREAT OUR reefs face is climate change and the associated range of dangers that brings. These include rising water temperature, rising water levels, water acidification and an increased frequency of severe weather, all of which are severe perils for reef ecosystems. Over on the other side of the country from Ningaloo Dr Emma Kennedy, a postdoctoral research fellow at Griffith University, is working on the GBR to monitor the impact of ocean acidification on a particular type of algae. It’s known as crustose coralline algae, or CCA, and it’s particularly sensitive to acidification, which is a major consequence of increased carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere: the acidity of marine waters increases as our oceans absorb more and more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Because CCA skeletons dissolve more easily under acidic conditions than coral skeletons, this algae acts as a useful bioindicator of when things are going wrong. Just as miners in underground coal mines once relied on sick or dying canaries to indicate when a mine’s air was becoming poisonous, researchers can rely on this algae to tell them when the surrounding water is becoming acidic enough to affect marine life. The Griffith Uni project involves measuring CCA skeleton growth rates to first determine a ‘normal’ background level. This then enables the researchers to detect and respond to sudden


SUSTAINABILITY changes in acidification levels, giving them time to act before it’s too late.


THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY’S Reef in 3D project is being carried out by a multidisciplinary team that comprises the usual types of scientists you’d expect to see working in an ocean habitat, like marine biologists and coral reef ecologists. But it also includes some more unlikely experts, including researchers in robotics and stereo imaging. Together they are developing complex 3D maps of Australian reefs using robots. The more complex a coral reef, the more resilient it tends to be as the climate changes. Using robots to map the seafloor in 3D allows changes to be measured over larger areas than traditionally possible, and that means that scientists will be able to react faster to

problems as they arise. Professor Maria Byrne, who heads the project, explains: “Reefs have a huge suite of species, all with different functions. It’s like different pieces in a big jigsaw puzzle. If you miss some of the pieces, you actually start reducing resilience. You might be able to lose one species, because the others might be able to fill in the role – they could be herbivores cropping seaweed or damselfishes keeping the corals in good nick, but if you start losing too many... that’s when you start having resiliency being impaired.” These new 3D maps are being assembled through geolocation. This means that as repeat surveys are undertaken by robots, autonomously operated vehicles and divers, researchers studying phenomena such as coral bleaching will be able to compare current and historical maps. And that will

mean researchers will be able to identify and understand what changes came first and how they led to other consequences.

SUNSCREEN SOLUTION MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY chemical engineer Professor David Solomon is working on an unusual answer to the increasing levels of UV reaching our reefs due to climate change. Prof Solomon, an expert in polymer chemistry, is leading a team investigating the possibility of protecting the coral on reefs with a type of sunscreen. It’s an idea based on a technology already used in dams to minimise evaporation – and would mean that a biodegradable surface film, just one molecule thick, would be positioned on top of the water to protect a reef.

NEVER GIVE UP Some experts are saying that it may already be too late to save our reefs. But as one of the many scientists and engineers now working to solve the looming issues, Griffith University’s Dr Emma Kennedy is optimistic.

Image courtesy of Griffith University



do get a bit jealous when I hear stories from the older generations about how huge and colourful the corals were, and how many big and beautiful fish they saw when they were young,” she admits. “Some professors have started saying that there’s no hope, and that we should just enjoy the reefs while we still can, and then use them as an example of the first ecosystem that was lost due to human carelessness and overexploitation. “But I have to be optimistic otherwise I wouldn’t be able to come to work each day. Humanity is in a very unique position where we understand the risks of climate change and have the technology in our grasp to do something about it.”



Find the right environment for a career that makes a difference to the world around you. WATER IS A recurring theme in Larissa Johnston’s life. She grew up between the ocean and a lake near a national park on the NSW Central Coast where, she says, she was literally “immersed” in her local environment. As part of her fourth (honours) year of a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management at the University of Newcastle’s Central Coast campus, Larissa is developing the best design for baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVS). These can be used to gather data about the size and health of fish communities and Larissa is testing them out in the Brisbane Water Estuary, near where she grew up. It’s the kind of hands-on experience that’s made Larissa appreciate how the skills she’s learnt can be used to improve and support the natural world.

In August last year, Larissa was awarded the Glen Turner Scholarship, created in honour of an environment officer murdered near Moree in 2014 while investigating allegations of illegal land clearing. Education about the natural environment was Glen Turner’s passion and the scholarship has helped guide Larissa’s career direction. “It showed me that, yes, I’m passionate about it, but I can also do well in this field and have it as a career,” she says, explaining that she now plans to pursue further studies and a career in science communication. “I love communicating with younger people in local communities, to get them involved in their local environments and the citizen science projects going on in their area.”



Matt Dunbabin (left) and Feras Dayoub with the COTSbot robot, which is designed to search for and kill crown-ofthorns starfish.

A PARTICULARLY PRICKLY problem (sorry again for bad puns!) for Australia’s reefs is the crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS). This is a predatory starfish with a voracious appetite for coral polyps. Every so often its numbers boom and decimate reefs. For a long time COTS populations were controlled by divers who searched for the starfish and killed them by injecting them with a toxin. It’s known as the one-shot method and although it’s an effective way of killing the starfish it’s slow and hasn’t kept up with the most recent outbreak, which is presently wreaking havoc on parts of the GBR. Dr Matthew Dunbabin and Dr Feras Dayoub from the Queensland University of Technology have taken what seems like a sci-fi approach to the problem and built an independent starfish-killer that cruises the sea floor, scanning for starfish. Known as the COTSbot, it’s a submarinelike robot that patrols about a metre off the seafloor. When it recognises a starfish – which it does through a state-of-the-art image

 Image courtesy of QUT Marketing and Communication/Erika Fish.

“When it recognises a starfish a target comes up on its screen, an injector arm shoots out and it injects the starfish with toxin.” Performance


Talking and translating research can make for an entertaining career. LEE CONSTABLE IS fluent in three languages – English, science for scientists and science for everyone else. She’s a science communicator and much of her work involves translating jargon-heavy research findings into something much more accessible and entertaining. That can be through live performances for schools and community groups or on TV as the host of Scope, a show for 8–14-year-olds produced by Network Ten in association with CSIRO, Australia’s largest research organisation. You can see Lee in action on Scope on Channel Eleven at 8.30am on Saturdays. Lee is a graduate of the Master of Science Communication Outreach at the Australian National University (ANU), a one-year postgraduate program that offers specialist training in science communication performance

and exhibition design. But, she says, she wouldn’t be where she is today without her undergraduate degree, also completed at ANU – a Bachelor of Science with a double major in plant science and environmental and Earth sciences. “It’s definitely something that gets drawn on a lot in the show,” she says, explaining that it has helped her with both the process of researching topics and being able to express complex ideas simply. Combining her Bachelor of Science with a Bachelor of Arts as part of an ANU flexible double degree meant Lee could also study drama, the perfect combo for a future TV host. Lee says that fieldwork experiences at university “where anything can change or go wrong”, have also been helpful in making her more resourceful and adaptable, important skills in any career, but essential if you are, quite literally, in the spotlight.



STEM into


With a career that combines his two great passions – science and swimming – this performance scientist feels his job is more like a hobby than work.

EXCEPTIONAL FOCUS AND drive are two qualities Lachlan Mitchell shares with the elite athletes he works with. After sprinting through a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science at Bond University in just two years – made possible by Bond’s three-semester academic year – he secured an internship at the Australian Institute of Sport. There he went on to complete his honours year and begin a PhD, working with swimmers and coaches on the Australian Olympic team in the lead-up to the London Olympics. “You’re there twice or three times a week for the entire Olympic cycle, so you see all the ups and downs associated with sport and competition,” Lachlan explains about that

experience. “The ultimate goal is to find ways to get our athletes to go faster.” That included helping athletes achieve the right balance of fat and muscle mass. And it also meant communicating new research findings and technology to coaches and incorporating that into “different forms of training that might help their athletes get that extra 1%”. Since 2014, Lachlan has continued his PhD research while working as a performance scientist at the Queensland Academy of Sport. The job sees him applying his knowledge of what goes on inside the human body to the ongoing training of elite swimmers, and he gets to see the results up close.

uc.australiascience.tv Image courtesy of James St John

The triton trumpet shell (r) is a natural predator of the reef-destroying crown-of-thorns starfish.

“Not only does the triton trumpet shell eat the COTS, the COTS are petrified of the triton” Image courtesy of Griffith University

recognition system – a target comes up on its screen, an injector arm shoots out and it injects the starfish with toxin. But this is just one part of a multi-pronged assault on COTS. Dr Peter Thomas-Hall, a chemist and technical officer at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Queensland, is trying a different approach; enlisting the help of a natural predator of COTS – the triton trumpet shell. “Not only does the triton trumpet shell eat the COTS, the COTS are petrified of the triton,” Dr Thomas-Hall

explains. “As soon as the COTS smells a triton, they start running away.” The triton trumpet shell was heavily fished on the GBR right up until the 1970s and these carnivorous molluscs are now rare. Using the few specimens he’s been able to locate, Dr Thomas-Hall is trying to identify what it is that the triton produces that seems to so effectively repel the starfish. Once he’s worked that out, he’ll then focus on chemically synthesising it in a way that researchers will be able to use it to reduce LAUREN COTS’ populations. SMITH As australian Part of his work is also geographic’s focused on increasing education editor, production of the triton Lauren is doing her bit to save the trumpet shell with the aim world by writing of re-building the species’ about it. She spends all her free numbers on reefs where it time in the sea. once flourished.

Navigating the


Not every route to a stunning career runs in a straight line. JUSTIN MOORE WISHES someone had told his teenage self that there are alternative pathways if, like him, you don’t get the marks to make it straight into uni. After finishing school he worked odd jobs for four years before luckily he found his own way to Charles Darwin University (CDU), which he discovered offers vocational and educational training as well as degrees. Justin, a Darwin local, began his journey at CDU with a Certificate III in Horticulture and followed it up with a Diploma in Conservation and Land Management. He was given credit for both these courses when he then applied for a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) and, as a result, was able to complete his degree within two years.

Justin graduated with awards for outstanding achievement in spatial sciences – a discipline that involves measuring and mapping features of landscapes by using everything from ground surveying to remote sensing and GPS technology. “It’s quite a young field with new emerging technology and lots of opportunities,” he says. He’s now employed as an environmental rehabilitation technician for a mining company in the Northern Territory. There he’s merging the practical spatial science skills he learned during his studies with his knowledge of wildlife and conservation biology to reestablish native ecosystems in areas that have been cleared or developed.

o t e d o c e h t e k r c u a t r C right fu ab HOT CAREER OPTION


“I literally coded Facebook in my dorm room and launched it from my dorm room. I rented a server for $85 a month, and I funded it by putting an ad on the side, and we’ve funded it ever since by putting ads on the side” Mark Zuckerberg




CARL WILLIAMS REPORTS ON THE MUST-HAVE SKILL FOR THE FUTURE. E ARE LIVING through a digital revolution, as mind-blowing as any revolution the planet has ever experienced. It’s driving a global transformation that already affects almost every aspect of our lives, from transport and banking to personal fitness and health. And it’s only set to spread and grow. So what’s powering this revolution? The answer is simple. Coding. The software behind every computer, website, smartphone, tablet, virtual reality and gaming tech relies on code. Think of it like a language used as a way of communicating by all the electronic devices we use. So it’s not surprising that understanding what it is and how to use it opens up all sorts of possibilities. There’s no question that the ability to code is set to become one of the most in-demand workplace skills. And that goes for pretty much every industry – from finance and marketing, to manufacturing and health care. So, if you’re still at school or just starting out at uni or TAFE you might not necessarily be planning a career in coding but there are a lot of good reasons why it would be worth your while gaining expertise in this critical area. Sure, learning to code will equip you with essential expertise for the exciting new jobs of the future. But, more importantly, learning to code and understanding how it works also teaches critical thinking and problemsolving, and that’s valuable for any job.


THE MAIN INDUSTRY that needs people with coding skills is ICT (see p43). According to Australia’s Digital Pulse – a joint report released last year by Deloitte Access Economics and the Australian Computer Society – about 600,000 people worked in ICT in 2014 in Australia and there’s demand for a further 100,000 by 2020. And yet, the number of graduates with ICT qualifications has declined significantly since the early 2000s. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out that increasing demand and falling graduate numbers equals HUGE OPPORTUNITIES for anyone now looking to get into this area! Learning to code in school and at uni and TAFE provides the skills to create and design the technology of the future. But it will also help narrow the gap between the growing number of technology jobs that already exist and the people qualified to fill them. Developing knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – the STEM subjects – while in high school, and understanding specialist areas like database management, cyber security and information technology, are essential for a career in coding and computer science. Leon Sterling is a retired Swinburne University of Technology professor who still teaches ICT at Swinburne as well as software engineering at the University of Melbourne. He agrees that learning coding is the most effective way of developing computational and problem-solving skills and will be particularly important for the jobs of the future. “Automation will create new and more exciting jobs, but we will need people with the skills and knowledge to understand how automation works and to use computers more effectively,” Prof Sterling explains.


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STUDYING A COMPUTER science degree is often the first step to a career in ICT, and coding is an integral part of most ICT bachelor degrees, such as software engineering, computer science, information technology and computer engineering. Business analytics and cyber security, for example, are two growth areas Prof Sterling notes will require qualified ICT professionals with coding skills. “We’re collecting so much data, we need people who can understand and interpret it, and someone who has those skills will do extremely well,” he says. So what’s the take-home message here? Computer and coding skills help with solving problems in a huge range of fields, from accountancy to zoology. And with technology rapidly changing the global economy, nobody knows exactly what the careers of the future will be. But what we do know is that coding will be one of the most important and desirable skills. So make sure you’re well-equipped in this area when you step out into the workforce.  ULTIMATE CAREERS I 39


< Unleashing your Inner Entrepreneur/>

TAJ PABARI ADMITS he wasn’t exactly a model student during his early school years. But he loved ICT and was fascinated by people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Taj began a technology blog for children at the age of 11. And about two years later, in 2014, he founded the company Fiftysix, which sells build-ityourself tablet and coding kits for kids. “Fiftysix is what we like to call Lego for the 21st Century,” Taj says, explaining that building tablets from the ground up helps kids understand what makes them work. So far the company has reached 43,000 children and Taj, who only last year finished high school, has a goal of a reaching a million by 2020. For every tablet purchased the company also provides a free kit for a disadvantaged child from an underprivileged community in Australia, India, Nepal, Indonesia or East Africa. “A lot of kids tell me they don’t want to be a computer programmer, but that’s not what I’m advocating,” Taj says. “A broad understanding of not only coding and programming, but building technology and knowing about hardware and software, are skills that are very important now and increasingly so for the jobs of the future.”

Taj images courtesy of Taj Pabari


Drive for

Power Image: Nick Samartis

This engineer from suburban Sydney is helping to shape the planet’s energy use. NOT SO LONG AGO he was selling sausage sandwiches to help fund the first World Solar Challenge entry for Western Sydney University. Now he’s snagged a dream job in Silicon Valley, in the United States. It’s certainly been quite a ride for Jay Manley! The south-western Sydney local was studying mechatronics and robotics engineering at the University when he decided to put his own spin on a final-year group project to design and build a small electric engine runabout. “I thought hey, let’s use the rules from the World Solar Challenge,” Jay says. “And that’s when we started designing a solar car.” Put through its paces over the gruelling

3000km race from Darwin to Adelaide, Jay says the vehicle performed well, especially considering it was its first run. “A lot of our early assumptions were pretty good when we designed the car, in terms of reliability,” he says. The experience also proved invaluable to Jay in other ways. “To run your own team has its own unique set of challenges and gave me an appreciation for what it’s like to actually lead a group of people,” he explains. Three years on, Jay has been snapped up by one of the world’s most cutting-edge energy companies. He is now an engineering project manager for Tesla Energy, the solar energy storage branch of US-based electric car company Tesla, where he’s in good company. “There are a lot of solar car alumni at Tesla,” Jay says.


< E-Training Australian Healthcare/> ADELAIDE-BASED SOFTWARE development company ETRAIN Interactive is using video game technology to help nurses improve their skills. And they’re doing it with ground-breaking simulated training in 3D. Coders are at the heart of what the company does and Mathew Balic, ETRAIN Interactive’s Managing Director, says he’s looking for coders who can see the “bigger picture”. “Even if their coding skills aren’t as good as someone who’s straight out of university, I’d always take someone who’s got skills and abilities in designing games or user-interfaces over someone who’s just a coder,” Mathew explains. He employs a range of different programmers who work collaboratively with all parts of the company. “We want our programmers to fully understand the enduser experience, even if they’re focusing on lines of code,” he says. “I really want them to have an appreciation of the end product.” Mathew adds that although formal qualifications are definitely handy for securing a job, he doesn’t consider them essential. “Having a relevant degree is certainly beneficial – it shows you can apply yourself and demonstrates critical thinking and problem-solving,” he says. “But if someone had two or three years industry experience that would be just as good for me.”

Images: courtesy of ETRAIN


< Get coding girls/>






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WHEN ALLY WATSON realised the world of coding was missing out on a lot of creative female talent she decided to do something about it. Now girls are getting the chance to explore their potential in this male-dominated area through Code Like a Girl codelikeagirl.com.au, an online network founded by Ally to run code and tech events for girls and give them the skills they need to step into leadership roles in the ICT industry. “Our aim is to help women flourish in the world of coding, and to spark change in the tech community,” explains Ally. Code Like a Girl is supported by Melbourne-based digital agency Deepend, where Ally is a Net Developer working on cutting-edge web and mobile applications. “The industry is fast-paced and always changing, so there’s lots of room to grow as a developer,” she says. “It’s very exciting to have the opportunity to combine my love of technology with my creative passion, and I’m very fortunate to work with some incredible bosses and tech directors.” Ally’s path to a career in coding began after high school, when she enrolled for a computer science degree at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland. “I wasn’t exposed to the tech industry as a teenager, so had little to no experience of programming,“ she says. “But after failing to get into art school, I considered becoming a programmer. It was kind of a happy accident.” Surrounded by boys who already had programming skills, a lack of confidence in her coding meant she initially struggled, but her determination and courage paid off. “I look back now and I’m so proud that I never gave up,” Ally says, “because it has led me to an amazing career I truly love.”

away... UP UP


A gifted organic chemistry student from Queensland helps make flying safer.

IT’S NOT OFTEN THAT A PhD student can lay claim to a potentially life-saving breakthrough. But Vanessa Lussini loves the challenge of doing things no one has done before. As part of her PhD at the Queensland University of Technology, she’s applied her knowledge of organic chemistry to the development of a compound that, when mixed with paint, signals when an aircraft needs repainting. The extraordinary innovation won her a $10,000 scholarship from Aerospace Australia in 2015. Why the fuss? Because a slick paint job is about much more than mere appearances in the aviation industry. It’s a coating that keeps the metal body of an aircraft in good shape, protecting it from the

damaging effects of sunlight, temperature change and water exposure. “It’s critical to know when to repaint an aircraft, ”Vanessa explains, “but we can also paint them too often simply because they are scheduled to be done, and every new coat adds weight.” Paint breaks down more quickly on some parts of a plane than others and Vanessa’s compound makes it easier for maintenance crews to identify where these potential weak points are by using Black Light Scanners. It’s a bit like how black light is used in the TV show CSI to identify saliva and other bodily fluids, Vanessa says. The more degraded the paint is on the surface of an aircraft, the more it will glow.

Image courtesy of Melbourne Magazine


{{ ICT explained

ICT stands for information and communication technologies. It’s an industry that covers the internet, wireless networks, smartphones, computers and all the associated hardware and software. And its prime purpose, of course, is to allow us to access information and communicate with each other. ICT has helped create the ‘global village’, where people all over the world can communicate in real-time through technologies such as instant messaging and videoconferencing and keep in regular contact through social networking websites like Facebook.

< Coding Resources/> Don’t wait till you get to uni or TAFE to start coding. Explore what it’s about – and maybe even start coding – with the help of these websites. Codecademy – codecademy.com Google CS First - cs-first.com/en/home code.org - code.org FreeCodeCamp - freecodecamp.com Khan Academy - khanacademy.org/hourofcode edX - edx.org/course/subject/computer-science Coursera - coursera.org Udacity - udacity.com Udemy - udemy.com Digital Careers - digitalcareers.edu.au


Sydney-based freelance science writer and photographer Carl Williams has degrees in physics and chemistry. He’s published articles on subjects ranging from Aboriginal astronomy to quantum computing.

Banking on

Agriculture A mix of finance skills and agricultural science creates the perfect rural adviser. STUDYING A BACHELOR of Agricultural Science at The University of Queensland was a natural choice for Peta Ward, who grew up on a beef property at Yuleba, near Roma in southwest Queensland. Working for a bank, however, was the last thing she saw coming. In her first job out of uni, which was as an animal nutritionist for a stockfeed company, Peta had countless conversations with clients over kitchen tables about the frustrations of dealing with bank managers who weren’t across agriculture. When ANZ offered her a place in their graduate program she saw an opportunity to learn finance skills on the job but also to bridge the two worlds. “I felt that’s where I could make a difference,”

she recalls. Now, with 15 years’ experience in the industry, Peta is still having those kitchen table conversations with people on the land about their plans and hopes for the future. “I see so many different businesses and all of the opportunities in agriculture,” she says. Peta now works as Westpac’s Regional General Manager for Agribusiness in Queensland, a role that she finds particularly rewarding. No two days are the same and she’s rarely cooped up in an office. In fact, the job gives her the chance, she says with a laugh, “to get out there and kick the dust or play in the mud... although hopefully for farmers, more mud than dust!” Start your career at UQ: bit.ly/UQagriculture



Solange and Sebastian, who both have a deep love of space, met while interning at a satellite company. Six months later, Cuberider was born. Like so many successful start-ups it’s based on an idea that no-one had tried before: to support and inspire high school students in STEM subjects by helping them design and code experiments for testing in space. The start-up’s historic first mission launched in December, last year, carrying the experiments of 1000s of students on the first-ever Australian space mission to the International Space Station (ISS). “Cuberider and a whole bunch of high school students managed to beat some of Australia’s top minds in aerospace and space engineering to the ISS!” Sebastian explains proudly. The Cuberider program is based on nanosatellite technology – tiny satellites that orbit the Earth and can be used to observe and record what’s going on in the surrounding environment. Cuberider nanosatellites include 12 unique sensors that allow students to design and build experiments to measure just

about anything. Some students participating in this first mission are trying to prove or disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity. Others are looking to create art from the data they collect in space. Sure Cubrider has had setbacks, but Solange and Sebastian don’t see them that way. Early last year the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to carry the Cuberider payload to the ISS exploded during a prelaunch test fire. Thankfully no one was hurt but Cuberider’s payload was destroyed. “That’s space,” Solange says. “You’ve got to deal with rockets exploding – that’s just the nature of it.” Fortunately Cuberider secured space on another rocket and this year plans to extend its program to as many students as possible. “If you like problem-solving, or if you love real, proper exploration – that’s what STEM is,” Sebastian says. “Just go and do it and grab it by the horns, because it will be an adventure. It will be something that will last with you forever.”

Hot Aussie Start-ups 44 I ULTIMATE CAREERS

Image courtesy of Cuberider

founders Solange Cunin and Sebastian Chaoui cuberider.com

Image courtesy of Proxima


What Proxima does is best explained by giving you an example. But first, here’s the jargon. Proxima is a software development company changing the way businesses interact with customers. Its latest product, Iris, is a “supervised artificial intelligence (AI) and workflow system” that uses Twitter to engage with customers in real time. Co-founder Sebastian (left) explains what that means by using the example of a client, the retail outlet Myer, which used Proxima’s technology at a recent fashion show. A video of each outfit was tweeted and customers were prompted to retweet if they wanted to find out when outfits became available in store. Through Iris, Myer could track who it was reaching with its brand and customer preferences. It meant Myer could also send them back a personalised tweet when outfits became available. Other brands that have used the technology in Australian campaigns include Microsoft, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. “That’s probably the biggest highlight for us… working with Twitter directly, to actually roll out AI for different brands around the world,” Sebastian says. It is also one of his team’s greatest challenges as they now work across five different time zones through Europe, India, Asia-Pacific, the United States and Australia. Mentorship has been a big part of Proxima’s success so Sebastian’s advice for those starting out is not surprising: “Find someone who is willing to be a sounding board for you and ask questions. Be a sponge – take as much from them as you possibly can.”

company PROXIMA

founders Sebastian Pedavoli and Dan Nolan proxima.io ULTIMATE CAREERS I 45



company CANVA

founders Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams canva.com

Image courtesy of Triple T and ASD

Image courtesy of Canva

Hot Aussie Start-ups

Canva is still considered a start-up but its income and staff numbers show that it’s also already a hugely successful business. It’s an online graphic design platform that is now valued at $345 million and has more than 100 team members in 12 countries and 12.5 million users. And yet when Melanie, Canva co-founder and now CEO (right, with Cliff Obrecht, centre, and Cameron Adams), was starting out and trying to raise funds and find tech talent she received hundreds of rejections from potential investors and team members. “Starting a business, especially one with crazy big plans, always involves overcoming resistance,” she says. As a software business, STEM skills are integral to Canva. “One of the most exciting elements is that technology makes geographical borders almost irrelevant,” Melanie says. “We’re based in Sydney and have users in 179 countries – from our first day we were seeing tweets and blog posts in all kinds of languages.” It is individual stories that Melanie finds most inspiring. She tells of a sheriff using Canva to make Wanted Posters in the United States and a woman who reconnected with her birth mother after placing a Canva-created poster online. Melanie’s advice to anyone with an idea that they want to turn into a career? “Just get started,” she says. “I’m a big believer in just-in-time learning, and the best way to get the career you want is to just jump into it and be open to learning as much as you can.”

Hamish first learnt to code in year three and hasn’t looked back. At just 10 he created LitterbugSmash; a multi-media, multi-channel educational tool, game play and fundraising initiative designed to protect oceans and save turtles. His next project is the app Triple T and ASD. It’s been designed to help people, like him, who have autism and to raise awareness about the disorder, which, among other things, affects the way a person relates to other people. Hamish’s work using ICT skills to improve the lives of others led to an innovation grant from the former United States Ambassador to Australia, John Berry. And it also brought an invitation to attend former President Obama’s 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, in the United States. After crowdfunding his travel costs, Hamish made it to America and says the trip was fantastic. He got to listen to the President, have gelato at the Apple Campus and visit Facebook’s headquarters. Hamish is now connected with people from around the world, including entrepreneurs in China’s biggest city, Shanghai, academics from Stanford and Duke universities, in the United States, and many others interested in using technology to make the world better. All that and Hamish is still only 12! He’s now working with Global Scribes – a non-profit organisation that fosters peace through essays and other forms of writing. He’s recently lodged a bid for 100&Change, a competition for a $100 million grant to solve a significant problem. Hamish’s bid, which is called Hamish’s Autism Moonshot, is focused on helping people with autism spectrum disorder.

company TRIPLE T AND ASD founder Hamish Finlayson tripletandasd.com 46 I ULTIMATE CAREERS

From here, you could go anywhere.

Get ready.

303ML ECU12304 | CRICOS IPC 00279B

At ECU, you can undertake courses in Engineering & Technology, Medical & Health Sciences and Science. These courses are developed in consultation with industry and taught by lecturers and tutors with practical experience in their field. This ensures that you’ll learn the skills and knowledge that are relevant for your future career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Not to mention our lecturers have also been awarded 5 stars for Teaching Quality eight years in a row by The Good Universities Guide. So when you start looking for a job, you’ll be ready.

Apply now ecugetready.com.au ECU. That’s how university should be.

Image courtesy of Cohort

Image courtesy of Luv Ur Skin



EQUALUTION, MY TASTE GUIDE founders Jade Spooner and Amal Wakim equalution.com

Jade (below right) and Amal (below left) created their own tailored, flexible nutrition plans to help prepare for fitness competitions. They were so successful that they went on to create plans for other people with the startup Equalution and are now developing the app My Taste Guide, to grow this business further online. Jade says that one of their biggest challenges has been understanding the technology they needed to scale-up their business. “Accept that you can’t do everything and ensure you have the right people behind you to execute whatever you’re trying to do,” she says. The team recently won Seedstars (Australia) – a tech start-up competition – and will represent Australia in Switzerland this year in the global competition.

company LUV UR SKIN



founders Mark Fletcher and Paul Jones cohortsolutions.com Cohort Solutions was developed to help international university students save time and money. Co-founder Mark (pictured above) first started the financial technology business to offer online international money transfers at student rates. But he quickly recognised new opportunities and now helps students across their entire study experience. That includes organising flights to their new country, comparing health insurance policies and providing SIM cards. Mark worked as a lawyer and then moved into banking before starting Cohort Solutions. His advice? “Realise that you have an opportunity to create value yourself rather than just following the age-old line of going into a profession,” he says.


founders Darren Hudson and Tomonori Hu miriad-tech.com

Image courtesy of Miriad

Hot Aussie Start-ups

Isabella became frustrated when she couldn’t use her mother’s beauty products to remove her makeup after dance competitions because they were too harsh for her skin. And so she developed her own natural skin care line for tweens. It’s called Luv Ur Skin and is now sold in Priceline stores across Australia. Last year, at the age of just 14, she appeared on Fortune Magazine’s 18 under 18 young entrepreneurs list. Isabella’s biggest challenge has been getting older people to listen to her. “I’ve learnt to really draw the focus to me and show them that I know – this is my brand and I know what I’m doing,” she says.

Image courtesy of Equalution

founder Isabella Dymalovski luvurskin.com.au


Darren (left) and Tomonori (far left) began as teacher and PhD student in a research group exploring the properties of light at the University of Sydney. Now they work together as business partners. Their start-up Miriad Technologies is based on a unique ultra-fast spectrometer that they developed and built. A spectrometer is used to record and measure different types of light but the Miriad version can do it every three milliseconds, much faster than any others. Darren says their distinctive spectrometers are mainly used to characterise lasers, but chemists are also using the technology to analyse reactions as they happen. Darren says the best aspect of being in business is working with Tomonori. “We really do step A to step Z, and doing it together with a co-worker that you have a lot of fun working with, is one of the best things,” Darren explains.

Image courtesy of Mates Today Meet Smart



MATES.TODAY, MEET.SMART founders Tom Clarke and Daniel Vassilev f6s.com/mates.today

Tom (left) found that hectic university timetables made it hard for him to catch up with his friends. And so he and Daniel (far left) created Mates.Today, an app that connects friends and schedules meet-ups in an instant. They are now building on their idea with Meet.Smart, a similar app but for businesses. This works in with scheduling programs across other platforms, and acts as a personal assistant when people want to connect. In any start-up, Tom says, it’s essential to validate your idea. He explains: “You have to speak to people, do surveys, interviews and make sure what you’re trying to build is actually worth building.”


A former senior research scientist with a PhD in ecology, Angela is founder and director of the specialist science communication business Lush Logic, based in Adelaide.

Image courtesy of Leetina Smith Shaw


founder Bella Tipping kidzcationz.com

A family holiday inspired Bella Tipping to start Kidzcationz, a holiday venue review platform for kids. At 11, Bella was too young to put reviews on TripAdvisor, but her experiences were often very different to those of her parents. “As kids we are often ignored,” Bella says. “I think that my site has helped the tourism industry understand that kids are part of the decision-making process when families plan holidays.” Now the world is taking notice. Bella was recently listed at number nine in Fortune Magazine’s list of the 18 most influential business people under 18.

The future will bring new challenges. Your future will be solving them.

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There has never been a more exciting time to study science at The University of Newcastle. •

We’re globally recognised for excellence in scientific research. We ranked well above world standards in nine of our science disciplines in the 2015 Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) assessment

You can tailor your degree by choosing from 11 in-depth majors including chemistry, biology, physics and marine science

Access cutting-edge jobs. Growth and development in the science industry saw 80% of our graduates from 2015 employed in a diverse range of careers within four months of graduating*

Realise your potential with a science degree from The University of Newcastle, ranked in the top 250 universities in the world**.




*Australian graduate survey 2015 **QS World University rankings 2016


intern my life as an





HE MAP OF New South Wales is so big it spills over my desk like an immense tablecloth. I check for mistakes, travelling from the outback to the coast, making red pen marks on towns with strange names like Gol Gol and Nyah as well as familiar territory such as Newcastle. The map is a final stage draft of an insert for the next issue of Australian Geographic (AG), a magazine about Australian nature, culture and people. Afterwards I’ll be preparing questions for an interview with a researcher. That was one of my earliest days on a one-month editorial internship at AG. My intention as an intern was to fill a gap as I transitioned from being a researcher into a professional science writer. Students are sometimes required to undertake internships as part of university degrees. And there are also internships available for recent graduates. Either way, most are unpaid but they can be viewed as intensive work experience opportunities and a way for a person to gain a foothold in an industry. My responsibilities at AG included fact-checking article drafts, research and conducting interviews as well as writing stories and excerpts that could be used either in future issues of the magazine or on its website. As an intern there I got to see the inner workings of a magazine, observing the decision-making processes made by staff for every issue, including critical stages such as choosing the perfect balance of stories or the best photos to make a story shine.


My entry into the media and publishing industry hasn’t been straightforward. After completing a Bachelor of Science with Honours at the University of Sydney, I spent nearly six years as a researcher at a virus laboratory. Most of my days were spent infecting cells with glowing green viruses and taking photographs and movies of what happened next under a highresolution microscope. When it comes to charting my career so far, I’m reminded of an episode of a podcast called Wilosophy. In it documentary maker, TV presenter and advertising guru Todd Sampson tells comedian and podcast host Wil Anderson that during a person’s life there are ‘nodes’. These, he says, are pivotal moments that influence a person’s career or existence, either positively or negatively. They might be in the form of a teacher, a relative or a decision to choose a university subject. For me, there were many nodes and they seemed to be random as my career shift into science writing began to look as if it was taking place in a pinball machine! Each science communication experience propelled me You soon learn as you begin into a different direction that’s eventually led me to where I am now. When your career that although I made the decision to be a professional writer, I mentally laid everything ambition is a great fuel to out. What did I have to offer? What was missing that would keep me back propel you forward, you also need a healthy dose of realism. from being a contender in the field? There are after all still bills to Years of being a researcher had given me a familiarity with the scientific be paid! You need a plan in process and an awareness of what made good versus not-so-good research. place to be able to support I was fluent in the academic language used in research papers. I had yourself. some experience in science communication from public science talks and During upaid internships at both The Conversation and AG volunteering at the Museum of Human Disease (see next page). But I lacked I had a side-job as an English a writing portfolio that proved my ability to communicate science to a wider and science tutor. Tutoring is audience. I also needed first-hand experience of the publishing industry. popular with many students I was made well aware of both shortcomings when I first applied to be anyway but it was also a an editorial intern at the on-line publication The Conversation. The editors deliberate decision on my part told me to build my journalistic portfolio to showcase my writing and because teaching is another form of storytelling and a great reporting skills and try again in three months. exercise in communication. I set out feverishly pitching and writing stories with the aim of learning It’s a wonderful feeling when as much as possible about the craft of writing while still working as a you see that ‘ah-hah’ moment full-time researcher. I became a volunteer blogger at Australia’s Science in a student’s eyes. Channel, the publisher of this magazine, and started pitching and writing Portioning my time between internship, tutoring work and stories for other websites. The result was a portfolio strong enough to freelance writing became a finally get my foot in the door at The Conversation and then AG.

The Intern Juggle

Image courtesy of Tracy Tan

real act of mental gymnastics as I switched through different work modes.



Volunteer or intern? Spot the difference


Case study: Justin Yang

Volunteer at Vision Australia

Justin with Vision Australia volunteer coordinator Rolf Geerlings (r).

JUSTIN IS A RECENT Bachelor of Medical Science graduate, who while still a student began Image courtesy of Vision Australia volunteering at Vision Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for people with low vision and blindness. Whenever he has time, Justin and the volunteer team help with in-house projects, such as creating doctor and physiologist databases. Other volunteers do one-on-one care with vision impaired people in the community. To Justin, volunteering is a crucial part of gaining hands-on experience towards his career goals in medicine. “It all relates back to healthcare and taking care of people,” Justin says. “Volunteer work and work experience is quite important, not just grades. No matter what you want to do in the future, experience is a big factor in what people are looking for.”

a community. A history of volunteering also gives employers a preview of an applicant’s character. “I think it shows that you are a person who can selfstart; someone who has initiative and independence,” Prof Oppenheimer says. “Volunteering shows that you can actually do things to benefit the community, not just yourself. It shows a certain sense of selflessness. Depending on whether it is dealing with the elderly or the environment... it shows that you have an interest further than your own individual needs.” I spent a year as a volunteer at Sydney’s Museum of Human Disease, which operates a strong program of volunteers, including many who are science or medicine undergrads. The museum has 3000 human tissue and medical specimens in its collection and visitor tours are often led by volunteers. Museum director, Derek Williamson, says volunteering offers a valuable chance for students to practise their science communication skills. “Any opportunity to practise what you are learning is valuable,” he says. “For the volunteers it’s about developing confidence in talking to the public. No matter what your career is going to be, all those things are incredibly important skills that help people go from one step to the next in their career.” The museum often receives positive feedback from visitors on how much they enjoyed talking with the volunteers. “We know volunteers are busy people with study lives but when they are there the experience for our visitors is dramatically improved,” Derek says. “Most people do not have the medical knowledge or experience to understand what our specimens are really about. Our visitors say that engaging with a volunteer gave them that one-on-one kind of experience and we know that is invaluable.” Image courtesy of Grant Turner/Mediakoo

Interning and volunteering are often confused with each other. If you’re a volunteer, you willingly give your time and skills for free to help out a company or organisation. An internship, however, is similar to work experience with the goal that you benefit most from the experience by gaining skills in an industry or job you are interested in. Internships can be paid but are usually unpaid. During an unpaid internship, your role is mainly to observe and gain experience. In a paid internship, you do work that would otherwise be done by a paid employee. For more info: www.fairwork.gov. au/pay/unpaid-work/work-experience-and-internships. Flinders University history professor Melanie Oppenheimer, who has written extensively about volunteering, explains that you can gain skills that might be relevant for a future job through volunteering while also giving back to

“Volunteering shows that you can actually do things to benefit the community, not just yourself.”

Fascinatedby How to step up and into the spotlight for Australian research. NICOLA BILTON IS very happy to stand out from the crowd and, as a physicist working for the Australian Department of Defence, is making her mark in traditionally maledominated fields. Nicola first became intrigued by photonics – the science of light – during Year 12 physics classes, which motivated her to enrol after high school in a Bachelor of Science (Laser Physics and Technology) at the University of Adelaide. There she was the only female student in a class of about 20. Today she’s particularly passionate about getting more women into STEM-related careers and loves it that the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group), where she works, is actively encouraging increased female participation. It’s doing this through initiatives

Photons such as scholarships for female undergraduate students enrolled in science and engineering degrees. As well as receiving financial support, scholarship recipients are matched with mentors from the DST Group. Nicola had her first exposure to the DST Group when she herself received one of those scholarships. Now she works in the electro-optical sensors and processing group of the weapons guidance technology branch, developing LADAR (laser detection and ranging) technology. LADAR can be used from a distance of several kilometres to provide a 3D image of an object. For Nicola one of the best aspects of the work is the challenge of “constant problem-solving” that her research involves. “Being able to figure out why something’s happening, that’s quite satisfying,” she says.



Where to start



A youth-run organisation with chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide that brings together people interested in STEM and often advertises volunteering places.

Museum of Human Disease: medicalsciences.med.unsw.edu.au/ community/museum-human-disease/home Located at the University of NSW, in Sydney, volunteers help run the museum and lead tours.

Australia’s Science Channel:


As a not-for-profit dedicated online science channel, volunteer bloggers play an important role at Australia’s Science Channel and are always welcome.

Image courtesy of Tracy Tan

Derek Williamson, director of Australia’s only publicly accessible medical pathology museum, the Museum of Human Disease, at the University of NSW, with some of the facility’s attractions.

Just as I was completing my intern stint with AG, I successfully secured a paid position with international scientific publisher Nature Publishing Group (NPG), in Sydney! I’m now in a fulfilling and challenging environment that makes full use of every ounce of the skills I’ve learnt from all my jobs – unpaid and paid. And I’ve got no doubt my range of interning, freelance and volunteering experience helped get me here. NPG’s human resources manager, Sue Hamilton, agrees, explaining that an internship on a CV is a powerful indicator of an individual’s commitment to entering an industry. “It demonstrates to the employer that you are proactive in pursuing work in an area and that you have the relevant work experience,” Sue says. “When people do internships, when asked about their motivations, they gave more focused answers, because they have had exposure to the industry.” Candidates that had completed internships showed a genuine awareness of the workplace, which studying a subject isn’t able to provide. “When [we] are looking for [employee] candidates, we view their past performance as an indicator for future success,” Sue says. “In many cases graduates who haven’t completed an internship have a ‘dewy eyed’ view of editing and publishing. An internship illustrates a real-life understanding of what the job entails.”

Science Success Intergenerational

A childhood dream becomes reality as this bright chemist follows a career path that’s already seeing her recognised internationally.

EVEN WHILE STILL A teenager, Anwen Krause-Heuer imagined herself working for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in southern Sydney. Her grandfather had worked there as a chemist, and she was familiar with the Lucas Heights facility because her family drove past it regularly on the way to her grandparents’ house. “I always loved science, particularly chemistry, in high school,” Anwen recalls. The natural next steps followed at Western Sydney University where she completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Chemistry (Advanced Science) and embarked on postgraduate research into developing new drugs for cancer treatment. Anwen joined ANSTO in 2011 as


part of a graduate development program. Just two years late she was selected to take part in a prestigious meeting in Lindau, Germany, between 30 promising young scientists from around the world and Nobel Prize winners. Since then she has used her understanding of how substances interact with each other at the molecular level to design molecules for very specific purposes. She has, for example, produced radioactive isotopes that can be used in nuclear medicine to detect the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. More recently, Anwen has devised a way to more efficiently manufacture a type of molecule used in organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are used for electronic displays and monitors in everything from mobile phones to medical equipment.

THE RANGE OF opportunities offered by STEM-based careers is truly mind-blowing! So how do you decide what area or industry might best suit you? Interning can be a useful way to gain inside industry knowledge (see page 50). And work experience is another. This is a short-term placement with an employer that’s usually done during high school. There are, however, also programs that offer work experience for people while studying at uni and even shortly after. The purpose of work experience is to give you insight into an industry you’re interested in. It’s an opportunity to watch and learn and should help you shape your ideas about the direction you might like your career to head or the industry you’d like to get into. Of course, you can approach a particular employer directly to ask if they’d be willing to give you a work experience opportunity. But there are industries and employers with purpose-built workplace programs already in place. Here are a few that UC has identified, as well as details of sites where you’ll find other ways of tapping into STEM experience. • Australia’s largest research organisation, CSIRO, runs a dedicated work experience program to give “high school science students the chance to gain first-hand experience of our core research in a scientific environment.” Placements usually run for five days and take place between August and December at a range of CSIRO facilities. Applications open early in each year. For further info csiro.au/en/ Careers/Student-and-graduateopportunities/Work-experience

• The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute annually offers work experience placement opportunities for a limited number of year 10, 11 and 12 students from Australian high schools to “gain a practical understanding of the different types of work in a research area, which may help you when making your career decisions.” The institute also offers Australian university students the chance for work experience placements. These usually run for up to two weeks full-time or

learning experience



nothing else

Nowhere else offers the opportunities provided by the Australian Defence Force Academy. AN ORDINARY JOB was never an option for Adam Rogers. He always knew he wanted to do something that contributed to the community and had a technical basis. Studying a world-class degree from the University of NSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), in Canberra, ticked all his boxes. It came with the added benefits of earning a salary while studying, reduced HELP debt and graduating with a guaranteed job and exciting career. Adam recently graduated from ADFA with a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering and, in his first position, is working as an Aeronautical Engineering Officer in the Air Force at the RAAF Guided Weapons System Project Office in Canberra. “The main focus at ADFA and for our specialised RAAF training was leadership... as well as self-mastery: being able to

know yourself and how this affects others,” he explains. “These skills will help me lead and manage the projects I’m on.” Beyond the expertise he gained, Adam has fond recollections of the strong friendships he forged during his four years at ADFA. Those bonds, he says, undoubtedly grew out of living on base and studying with his peers. In his fourth year, Adam mentored 43 officer cadets through their first year as a Residential Support Officer, drawing on his own experiences to help them adapt to a new and unfamiliar environment. Adam’s study and training has prepared him to work at the forefront of electrical engineering on state-of-the-art systems and aircraft. He is looking forward to continuing his exciting career with the Australian Defence Force.

Image courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Okula



Photo: Adam Rogers at ADFA

STEM EXPERIENCE longer if they are done part-time. Students get the chance to work (unpaid) during this period as a research assistance on a particular project. For further details on either program victorchang. edu.au/home/study-careers/workexperience/ • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has a STEM Education Program that aims generally to increase the number of students studying STEM but to specifically inspire more women studying STEM subjects. Its flagship Go4IT Women in STEM program, which targets girls in high school, is run in partnership with TCS clients such as Westpac and AGL. In 2017 the program will provide opportunities for 100 young women in Sydney and Melbourne to participate. For more info on how to apply and dates that the program will be running this year info.tcs.com/csr-anz-stem • The University of NSW 50-50 program aims to inspire Australian girls and young women to pursue degrees and careers in science and technology, so they can “succeed in an innovation-driven future.” As part of that plan it works to facilitate “industry immersion, mentoring and networking opportunities to enable girls to get experience and a foot into scientific careers.” For further info science.unsw.edu.au/50-50

Photo by George Joch / courtesy Argonne National Laboratory

• For university undergraduates studying chemical engineering, industrial chemistry or a chemistry degree, Australia’s Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation offers an opportunity that goes well beyond the usual expectations for work experience. The organisation’s Year in Industry Program gives undergraduates the opportunity to gain

experience in their chosen field, work under a supervisor and develop important workplace skills. See more at www.ansto.gov.au/ AboutANSTO/MediaCentre/News/ ACS102907



• Here’s a way to get first-hand STEM experience to come to you, without you having to leave the classroom. In2Science is a program that puts uni students studying in STEM areas into high schools as “peer mentors to inspire students to pursue STEM studies at school and beyond.” Institutions supporting the program include RMIT University, La Trobe University, the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University. For more information in2science.org.au/ • Professional services firm PwC (previously known as PricewaterhouseCoopers) runs a program called STEM Academy, which runs bi-annually in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. It’s designed to “give students studying in the fields of STEM a chance to experience the global shift towards STEM in business.” It’s run during two days and is open to students studying a STEM degree or who have completed one in the last five years. For further information visit pwc.com.au/student-careers/ work-placements.html

For work experience opportunities offered by Australian Government departments, as well as guidelines about what’s expected of both you and your work experience workplace check out bit.ly/2h16FHF


The Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group is part of Australia’s Department of Defence. It is the second largest public-funded R&D organisation in Australia. DST is a national leader in safeguarding Australia by delivering valued scientific advice and innovative solutions for Defence and national security. DST runs scholarship and placement programs to provide industry experience to students looking for a career in science and technology.

DST INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE PLACEMENT PROGRAM The Industry Experience Placement (IEP) Program provides students who are required to complete a compulsory industry placement component as part of their degree the opportunity to achieve this at DST Group. Placements are paid and students are supervised by DST staff who work closely with the university to ensure that the academic requirements are met.


The Summer Vacation Placement (SVP) Program is a 12-week paid program for high-performing undergraduate STEM students. SVP students are supervised by DST staff and use their skills learnt at University to work on a real Defence project. The program commences in November of each year to match the university summer break.

For more information and to apply online: www.dsto.defence.gov.au/careers/scholarships-and-placements 56 I ULTIMATE CAREERS




How a fascination for physics can launch you into a remarkable career with the Australian Defence Force.

Flying Officer Ashlea Waight in 2014 while working on KC30 (main pic); on parade in 2015 (top left); with fellow recruit Katrina Detering (left); ANZAC day 2015 speech at Briagoglong, near Sale (above).


FTER TALKING with Flying Officer Ashlea Waight, you quickly realise the traits that guide her impressive professional life. She’s calm, knowledgeable and in control; ideal for trainee pilots and instructors at the RAAF Base in East Sale, Victoria. That’s because they rely on the judgement of this 24-year-old and the team she leads to maintain the safety of their fleet, which means their lives are in her hands. Ashlea first became fascinated by the physics of flight in Year 11. After hearing about a school friend’s experiences as an Air Force cadet and receiving encouragement from a science teacher, she applied to study aeronautical engineering at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), in Canberra. There, Ashlea undertook a


world-class degree through the University of NSW. She also benefited from the highest teacher-to-student ratio in Australia, received military and leadership training, and was paid a great salary while doing so. Ashlea says she developed an increased level of confidence at ADFA as she set out on a journey to become a leader. “Throughout your training, you are given the tools and skills to become a leader even in complex and challenging situations,” she recalls. “These were put into practice in increasingly complex and challenging training situations during my three years at ADFA.” In her current Air Force role, Ashlea works in maintenance planning and is responsible for fleet-wide issues affecting PC-9/A aircraft. These aircraft are used to teach qualified Air Force

pilots to become flying instructors. They’re also used by the Roulettes, the Air Force’s elite flying team, which demonstrates aerial acrobatic skills in displays around Australia. Ashlea also volunteers with a local cadet squadron, where high school students learn about aviation and the Air Force. They fly and train in an environment that helps them develop leadership skills, build self-confidence and practice team-work. The next Air Force posting for Ashlea is at RAAF Amberley, on the outskirts of Ipswich in Queensland. She’s looking forward to achieving one of her career goals there – carrying out maintenance and testing on individual operational aircraft at number 6 Squadron with the new EA-18G Growler aircraft. “This is an airborne electronic attack

aircraft capable of providing force level electronic warfare support by disrupting, deceiving or denying a broad range of military electronic systems, including radars and communications,” Ashlea explains. Beyond that, Ashlea aspires to undertake postgraduate studies, supported by the Air Force, in Advanced Mechanical Engineering at Cranfield University in the UK. Featured Partner

Rock star.

Leading a NASA mission to Mars makes QUT alumnus Dr Abigail Allwood a very big name on the world scientific stage. Her journey began with studying earth sciences, which led to a PhD and the discovery of some of the oldest evidence of life on earth in Western Australia. Now based in California, Abigail’s in charge of the ‘Planetary Instrument X-ray Lithochemistry’, or PIXL, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This instrument will use x-rays to study the chemistry of rock samples collected on the Mars 2020 mission. When you study science, technology, engineering or maths at QUT, the sky’s not the limit, it’s just the beginning. www.qut.edu.au/science-engineering

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