Water Journal : Water Journal November 2014
NOVEMBER 2014 WATER 29 Feature Article During 13 years of the CRC WQT, 113 students completed their Masters and PhD. Of those, 93 commenced work in the water sector. The list of former CRC PhD students contains an impressive number of current shining stars of industry and academia. WaterRA is currently supporting 24 PhD students and 15 Honours students (with six PhD students recently completed). Of the six PhD students completed, three are working in the water sector, two are overseas and one is currently applying for positions in Australia. There is no doubt that the WaterRA Education Program can be a stepping-stone, if not a fast track, into industry. A number of honours students have been awarded graduate positions, which then owed through to employment within an industry organisation. In another instance, a recent PhD student networked very well at Ozwater events and kept in touch with her contacts. On completion, our students give a nal presentation of their research results to members. It was here that the student captured the attention of an industry member and struck up a conversation. The student was pro-active and set up coffee meetings and teleconferences for the interstate contacts. The industry member, remembering the student, immediately engaged to bring her interstate for an upcoming position. After negotiation, the student packed her bags and took up her dream job in the water sector. MENTORING AND OTHER BENEFITS WaterRA matches all Masters and PhD students with suitable mentors for the term of their candidature, determined by their research topic. Mentors are generally from a different state than the student and their role is to provide a different perspective, be a sounding board, bounce ideas off and encourage students to think outside the square for opportunities. Mentors and mentees communicate approximately every eight weeks and meet for one face-to-face meeting each year. These meetings are generally strategically managed for maximum bene t, by backing onto an event they would not otherwise have been able to attend, or participate in site tours or a teaching session where the mentee spends a day in another organisation's labs or workspace to learn a new technique. PhD student Kalinda Watson says: "WaterRA's scholarship in terms of the nancial support has been brilliant, but what has really made the difference is having a mentor and a eld of other people to support me." One of the conditions of a WaterRA student package is membership of AWA. We see this as an invaluable network, and yet another community of expertise and support for students to tap into. In particular, students are strongly encouraged to be involved with the Young Water Professionals networks (YWP). Some students have gained experience and growth from becoming YWP committee members in their home state, where they learn skills such as coordinating, chairing and/or hosting events. WaterRA Honours and Masters students attend at least one Ozwater Conference, while the PhD students are required to present at an Ozwater Conference. WaterRA students are also encouraged to present their ndings at national and international conferences, where there is an opportunity to network with leaders in their eld of research and learn more about what is going on elsewhere. These connections will be an advantage as the student progresses into a water career. Current PhD student, Rachael Aganetti from Victoria University, is preparing to attend the 19th European Biosolids and Organic Resources Conference and Exhibition in the UK, where she has been accepted for a platform presentation. Rachael's project is "Mechanisms of spontaneous combustion in biosolids stockpiles -- risk reduction and process optimisation". While in Europe she will spend some months working in the Départment de Mécanique, Aix-Marseille Université in France, with Professor Dominique Morvan and his research team, drawing on their expert knowledge and experience of CFD (computational uid dynamics) package ANSYS Fluent to assist in the ongoing re nement of the model being used in Rachael's project. What a superb opportunity for Rachael, Victoria University, and all the collaborators. HOW CAN WE DO BETTER? Australia's Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, has been actively promoting the need for strategic investment in science for Australia's future prosperity. He outlines four objectives, three of which are directly relevant to WaterRA: • Education and training: We prepare a skilled and dynamic science-quali ed workforce, and lay the foundations for lifelong science literacy in the community. • Research: Australian science will contribute knowledge to a world that relies on a continuous ow of new ideas and their application. • International engagement: Australian science will position Australia as a respected, important and able partner in a changing world, for both domestic and global bene t. WaterRA has gone from a Commonwealth-funded program to a membership-funded model -- in a climate where research is not, in our opinion, adequately funded or valued. This means thinking laterally and working smarter, including the implementation of smart research management systems. Like most water organisations we are trying to stretch each dollar further with less staff while covering an increasing workload. If we look at this through the glass half-full lens, an advantage has been the upskilling of staff as they have had to take on additional responsibility. This should result in furthering their professional development. We would like to do more -- but need the wider industry to help us achieve it. WJ THE AUTHORS Angela Gackle (email: Angela.Gackle@waterra. com.au) is WaterRA's Manager -- MarComms. Angela has been a Science Communicator in CSIRO, State and Local Government. Carolyn Bellamy (email: Carolyn.Bellamy@ waterra.com.au) is WaterRA's Manager -- Education Program. Carolyn previously co-ordinated the CRC WQT Education and Training Program. Rachael Aganetti is modelling temperatures in biosolids stockpiles.
Water Journal September 2014
Water Journal December 2014