HOW HAS MATHEMATICS HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
I have had numerous positions at Defence Science and Technology (DST) group, including investigating the health, human performance and injury management of deployed soldiers during the Afghanistan conflict. I have also worked within the Technology Forecasting and Futures Team assessing the potential impact of emerging and disruptive technologies for Defence. Maths is pervasive. It is in almost everything you do from programming to statistics to logistics.
HOW IS MATHEMATICS USED IN DEFENCE INNOVATION? WHAT DO YOU SEE ON THE HORIZON?
Modelling behaviour, advanced algorithms for processing big data are routinely used by many of the people working in DST group. Modelling and simulation of which mathematics is a major component is considered one of the core capabilities required for any defence force and the ADF is no different. It is considered one of the top potential game changers for how technology will evolve particularly when it comes to autonomy. Reducing the risk that people are placed in by replacing humans with semi- autonomous/autonomous technology will change how defence works into the future.
Defence spends a significant amount of time assessing the potential impact of technology developments with all the three services in the ADF having a futures plan out to 2035. DST group also has a team of scientists that investigate future technologies and their potential for advancing defence technologies.
WHAT ROLE IS DEFENCE PLAYING IN FOSTERING SUPPLY OF RESEARCH READY GRADUATES?
As the Associate Director of the DSI, my major activity is in encouraging academics to work with DST scientists and the defence industry to improve the R&D of defence-related technologies. The DSI has a strong grounding in facilitation and we use multiple and diverse strategies to encourage collaboration. These include using grants, workshops and AMSIIntern programs to encourage more people into the defence ecosystem.
DST Group runs scholarship and placement programs to provide industry experience to students looking for a career in science and technology. The major programs include the Industry Experience Placement Program, the Summer Vacation Placement Program, the DST Group Cadetship Program, and the Graduate Industry Placement Program. DST group also encourages women to pursue careers in science and engineering via the Undergraduate Scholarship Program for Female Students.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE PROGRAMS SUCH AS AMSIINTERN? HOW CAN INDUSTRY BETTER PROMOTE DEMAND FOR MATHEMATICS AND STATISTICS SKILLS?
The AMSIIntern program is essential in filling what has been a gaping hole in training for graduates with a PhD. Once a PhD graduate would invariably go on to a position at a university and follow a traditional academic career. The paradigm is, however, shifting with more PhD graduates than ever seeking other avenues to utilise the skills that they have developed in particular in seeking positions in industry. Unfortunately, our traditional PhD program is not keeping up with this trend and the AMSIIntern allows those students who would prefer to work in industry after completion of their PhD to gain the necessary skills to make them job-ready. Case studies of how people have used their degree in their employment are essential in a field like mathematics, as it does not have a traditional career path like medicine or dentistry for example. At school more needs to be done to show that a degree in maths can lead to many different careers and you are only limited by your imagination.