Science education to meet the needs of a changing world
The Australian Research
Council has awarded two new centres of excellence to the University of
New South Wales (UNSW) as the university takes the lead in shaping
science education to meet the needs of the twenty first century.
The new centres, the
Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology and The
Centre for Climate System Science, add to a range of specialist science
‘hubs’ which draw the best minds to UNSW.
As well as the
traditional disciplines, science undergraduates at UNSW are exposed to a
whole range of new endeavours with applications to our changing world:
solar energy, water and the environment, green materials, new technology
such as quantum computing, commercial and financial mathematics and
genomics are all areas of excellence.
And at postgraduate
level, more than 550 research students from more than 15 countries are
working in areas as diverse as aviation, bioinformatics, climate change,
marine biofouling and bioinnovation and nanotechnology.
“The things we focus on
tend to be what we think will be important in the future, as well as
what’s always been taught,” says Science Dean Professor Merlin Crossley.
“We teach students a
healthy disrespect for old fashioned beliefs. We take people from any
culture and they learn this Australian freshness, this newness, this
hunger for innovation. There is a certain optimism and practicality
about the way we do things here.”
UNSW is in the midst of
major research collaborations on every continent – including Antarctica
– and maintains field stations as well as an ocean-going vessel for
studies of tropical and coastal marine resources.
researchers have recently begun a project to create a computer model
which will forecast how changes in wave patterns and rising sea levels
will affect beach erosion. They have also launched a new sustainable
mining research and education centre, which will use advanced
technologies such as 3-D simulation to assist the long-term viability of
the mining industry in Australia and south-east Asia.
UNSW is one of
Australia’s leading international research universities. It was recently
ranked fourth in Australia by the Excellence in Research for Australia
(ERA) initiative – the highest ranked university in Sydney.
It has performed
particularly well in science in recent years, being ranked number one in
excellence for teaching and learning under the Australian Government's
2009 Learning and Teaching Performance Fund. The University will receive
the highest allocation of any university from the fund in total funding.
“Both Australia and the
University are thriving,” says Professor Crossley.
“Our graduates are much
sought after because they have studied at one of the top universities in
an English-speaking culture. Most employers find the Australian approach
positive and refreshing.”
The Science Faculty has
always welcomed international students, and currently around 20% of its
cohort comes from overseas.
As an important member
of the international scientific community, the University encourages all
students to gain international experience and offers the opportunity to
spend time studying overseas.
It also provides
numerous scholarships from industry, which provide the opportunity for
many graduates to find employment with industry partners including
OneSteel, Rio Tinto, CSIRO, ANSTO and BHP Billiton.
Most notably, there are
an equal number of male and female students in the Science Faculty, with
an aim for the same gender equality in academic positions. Professor
Michelle Simmons runs the Centre for Quantum Computer Technology and
Professor Veena Sahajwalla directs the Centre of Sustainable Materials
Research and Technology.
Science students at
UNSW also have the opportunity to study climate science under Professor
Matthew England, conservation ecology and land water usage under
Professor Richard Kingsford and surface chemistry and nano medicine
under Professor Justin Gooding.
UNSW has 28 Research
Centres and four Co-operative Research Centres, enabling research
training and the ability to commercialise research and development.