You are here

Students get a taste of a purposeful career in Defence

22 February 2021

Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Tanya Monro has told a gathering of aspiring STEM professionals that there has 'never been a more exciting time to be working in Defence research and development’.

Addressing students at the annual DSTEM conference, Professor Monro spoke of the wide-ranging impact a research career in Defence can have.

“Just in the last year, Defence researchers have had the opportunity to make impacts on things as diverse as the bushfire response a year ago, and COVID-19, through everything from ventilator repurposing to helping develop face masks with an industry partner that were both more comfortable and indeed cheaper than their imported equivalents.”

“This shows that a career based on STEM in Defence is really about outcomes, about delivery, about partnerships, and about journeys that take you in very rewarding and unexpected directions.”

Each of the attending students, more than 100 in total, has just completed a research placement in Defence, an experience that Professor Monro hopes has given them a taste for how they can make a difference to Australia through STEM.

“Programs like the STEM cadetship, and vacation scholarships and industry experience placements are critical to Defence,” she said.

“We can see the growing need for a trained and capable STEM workforce into the future. And we often recognise that until you've had a chance to come in and taste the types of problems you could work on, you might not think to come and join Defence and start your career with us, and solve Defence problems.”

DSTEM is an annual conference for students undertaking a STEM placement in Defence. The conference typically features keynote speakers and panel members from Defence, industry and academia, and aims to provide students with an insight into the Defence R&D sector.

"The conference is designed to provide students with a taste of a research career in Defence, and to give them the opportunity to apply their university studies in a practical way to a Defence problem set,” Director of Science Capability and Talent in Defence, Maree Mahoney said.

“Our hope is that at the end of their placement, students have a good understanding of the breadth of research undertaken in support of Defence and the many opportunities that exist.”

For Sophie Hagley who has just completed a summer vacation scholarship, the opportunity to apply science to solve real-world problems was both motivating and rewarding.

“I have learnt so much by being able to work alongside a group of innovative and knowledgeable experts,” she explains.

“I have had the opportunity to explore concepts within my project based on my own interests, and have been given feedback every step of the way in order to achieve real outcomes.”

Student placements are an important part of the Defence talent pipeline, with a number of students going on to take on permanent positions.


Information about student programs is available from the DSTG Student Placements.