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Australia’s Defence released STEM Workforce Strategic Vision 2019-2030

Australia’s Department of Defence has released its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Workforce Strategic Vision 2019-2030 in Canberra as part of its celebrations marking National Science Week.

According to a recent press release, the Department of Defence would be collaborating with industry and academia in order to build the high tech workforce that is required to meet Australia’s future Defence and national security needs.

Meeting future Defence and national security needs

Professor Tanya Monro, Chief Defence Scientist, explained that these are the careers of the future and competition for people with these qualifications is fierce.

It is estimated that 75% of the fastest growing occupations in the world today require people with STEM skills.

In Australia, moreover, there is a growing requirement for a workforce with the necessary skills to drive innovation and ensure that the country remains competitive in a tough global economy.

The Department aims to shape the national agenda in science, technology, engineering and maths studies and inspire future generations of Australians to pursue careers within Defence.

If Defence is to develop a high-tech force, it needs a larger and more specialised STEM workforce of both uniformed and civilian personnel.

It also needs a continuous and reliable pipeline of graduates with science, technology, engineering and maths backgrounds to attract and retain the best and the brightest in their fields.

The Department is expanding its STEM cadetship program from 50 interns to 200 cadets this year.

This creates new opportunities for students to start developing their career at Defence whilst undertaking their studies.

Working with uninhabited aerial systems

In other news, two DST graduates were recently introduced to the world of defence science experimentation as they helped experienced practitioners put Navy personnel through a series of tasks to explore the impact of working with uninhabited aerial systems on crew performance and workload.

This work is exploring the impact of different levels of integration between a UAS capability with radar, electronic support and electro-optic sensors and a ship’s own sensors within a combat system.

Earlier experiments used a low level of data integration. It was important to understand how increasing the level of integration would affect processes and performance, which was examined in this experiment.

The experimentation was carried out in DST Edinburgh’s Combat System Integration Lab in a representative ship operations room.

Navy operators were tasked with controlling two uninhabited aircrafts: one fixed wing and one rotary copter.

They ramped up the level of integration and observed the incremental flow-on benefits.

Typically, more integration increases efficiencies. However, it is also more expensive. Navy are keen to know where the level of integration that gets the maximum performance benefits is.

Lessons learnt by all

Tom Fahy, a mechanical engineering graduate, was responsible for creating the experiment scenarios that include the placement of entities and all the specifications associated with each platform.

He used an in-house simulation system and is now mining the trial data to extract key performance metrics.

Cassandra Heffernan, meanwhile, was offered a defence graduate entry position, earlier this year, after completing her studies in organisational psychology and human factors.

She spent the previous year with the team on a graduate industry placement.

She helped determine what the participants liked and disliked about the workload, and about the graphical information and controls.

Defence Science and Technology’s flexible, purpose-built Combat System Integration Laboratory is set to support Navy’s new Hunter Class ships.

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