From Guarding Countrywide Sovereignty To Preserving The

Melanie Olsen is harnessing 10 many years of missile defense and electronic warfare techniques skills to drive quick technological innovation in maritime study and monitoring. Today, on International Gals in Engineering Day, the AIMS Group Chief for Technological know-how Development Engineering shares her one of a kind journey.

Developing up in a third-era farming family near the small settlement of El Arish in north Queensland, Melanie Olsen thought engineers were coach motorists.

When a James Cook University engineering lecturer visited her tiny rural superior faculty with a quad helicopter, Mel understood she’d discovered her occupation route and researched personal computer methods engineering at James Prepare dinner College.

She was accepted into the Protection Substance Organization (now Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group) graduate program that gave her the opportunity to carry out three 6-month rotations throughout Protection, helping to build and sustain Defense capabilities.

When she bought to maritime electronic warfare systems and missiles, she found her market.

For 10 many years, Mel labored carefully with challenge teams in Canberra, Adelaide and the United states in the style and design, acquisition and sustainment of long run maritime electronic warfare technological innovation, this sort of as the Nulka hovering rocket energetic missile decoy method. Following several hours, Mel also analyzed part-time and received a Masters in Electronic Warfare Units Engineering from UNSW.

Mel identified she had a talent for translating science-discuss to the engineers and stakeholders and engineering-communicate to the scientists and project managers.

“I rarely ever observed I was the only female in the area till people today pointed it out,” she stated.

As soon as, when meeting her U.S. collaborators confront-to-confront for the 1st time, they have been stunned to discover she wasn’t a bloke identified as Mel (quick for Melvin they experienced thought).

It was not unusual for stakeholders conference her to suppose she was the government assistant alternatively than the handling engineer.

All over her career in a male-dominated field, Melanie pushed as a result of these uncomfortable moments of becoming singled out, concentrating on providing solutions to the obstacle at hand.

Whilst she cherished her position, the extensive several hours, right away worldwide teleconferences and limited-recognize vacation was tough to take care of as a solitary mom with no loved ones assistance nearby.

Mel saw the opportunity to use for a task closer to household with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) placement of engineering team direct, technologies advancement. She started off in 2016 and found there have been many similarities to her function in Protection.

These times she leads an modern crew establishing techniques serving to to defend coral reefs somewhat than countrywide sovereignty. They are driving quick technological innovation to open up new capabilities for Australia’s tropical marine investigate agency.

The goal is to style technological remedies to help AIMS to meet up with its 2025 Method focus on to produce two times the details in 50 % the time and at half the device expense.

This involves introducing autonomous automobiles and artificial intelligence (AI) to make details selection and evaluation extra robust, effective and protected.

These methods are getting sustainably built-in into AIMS’ tropical maritime observation community.

Mel is also Venture Director of ReefWorks, AIMS’ newly set up tropical maritime technological innovation exam variety, the initial such facility in Australia.

ReefWorks provides a national ability to check maritime technologies, remotely-piloted and autonomous units, and new sensors in a safe, tropical marine ecosystem.

It opens possibilities for the marine autonomous programs sector and Government companies this kind of as Defense to harness AIMS’ capacity, tropical maritime experience and nimbleness in conducting take a look at and analysis, as very well as enabling AIMS researchers and engineers to discover from colleagues in linked industries.

Mel has been the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Digital Engineers) Northern Australia Part Chair because 2020, joined the Australian Military Reserves in 2019 and is a competitive powerlifter.

She’s a member of the AIMS Fairness, Diversity and Gender (EDGE) Functioning Group which was awarded Athena Swan Bronze position in 2020 for its dedication to improving gender fairness, variety and inclusion.

Her assistance to ladies and women of all ages seeking a career in engineering is straightforward: “civilization was crafted on individuals supplying it a crack”.

“Don’t go in worrying you are not capable or excellent plenty of,” she explained. “You’ll understand as you go, and soon you will notice that no 1 has all the responses.”

AIMS Know-how Development Engineering Workforce Leader Melanie Olsen with a prototype autonomous underwater car or truck. (Image: Australian Institute of Maritime Science)