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Principal Scientist supporting best Defence outcomes

10 October 2016
Principal Scientist Dr Stephen Cimpoeru.
Principal Scientist Dr Stephen Cimpoeru.

Dr Stephen Cimpoeru is a specialist in the area of land vehicle survivability, one of Australian Army’s highest science and technology priorities.

As a Defence Principal Scientist, Dr Cimpoeru’s role involves the delivery of scientific excellence when it comes to protecting vehicles from bullets and explosions.   

Driven by the February 2016 release of the Defence White Paper and Integrated Investment Program, Army is refining its capability requirements for the future, making Dr Cimpoeru’s strategic role even more important to Defence Science and Technology Group's (DST’s) work.

“Defence is embarking on a program that will transform Army into a robust, agile and lethal force for the future,” Dr Cimpoeru says.

“My work is of course focused on physical ballistic and blast protection but this also involves consideration of systems aspects.”

Ballistic and blast protection is cross-disciplinary and breaks the traditional academic stovepipes. As such it requires strong leadership to bring together a talented and professional team to achieve these best possible outcomes. These outcomes are good vehicle survivability which ultimately saves soldiers’ lives.

But Dr Cimpoeru’s role is broader than applying scientific research to discrete problems.

Asking the right questions

“In DST it is really our role to step back and ask ‘does this make sense?’ and methodically challenge and take apart both past and present scientific assumptions and practice.”

“What I have found is that it’s best to assess new phenomena from first-order principles before seeking far more complex explanations, sometimes asking ‘why’ rather than ‘how’.”

Dr Cimpoeru remains ever aware that this leadership role is much more than writing academic papers, but extends to working with a range of people, facilitating outcomes, mentoring staff and developing external collaborations to support DST initiatives.

“DST has core roles centered on providing expert and impartial advice and support for the conduct of military operations, the current force and the acquisition of future Defence capabilities,” Cimpoeru explains.

“An important part of my Principal Scientist role is to conduct research, with appropriate peer review, to deliver valued scientific advice and innovative solutions that result in not only Defence outcomes but the best Defence outcomes.”

“What is pleasing for me is being able to help the next generation of Defence scientists, as we now have a number of younger people who have developed or are developing strong international reputations in vehicle survivability,” says Cimpoeru.

“We are also making sure that Australia is punching well above its weight internationally in the field, with strong local and overseas collaborations.”

Under the leadership of Principal Scientists such as Dr Cimpoeru DST is well positioned to continue to support Defence achieve its goals well into the future.