ANU students are the fuel that will drive the Federal Government’s Ideas Boom, according toDR SHAYNE FLINT, PhD ‘06.
Whether you buy the Federal Government’s self-styled Ideas Boom rhetoric or not, the fact remains that increased innovation across all disciplines and sectors of the economy will play a critical role in Australia’s future.
This country’s graduates will be the fuel that drives this boom.
They will not only have deep disciplinary knowledge but also a passion for doing things better, an ability to see and take advantage of exciting opportunities and the confidence to tackle real-world complexities.
Irrespective of discipline, they will practice systems and design thinking.
They will be adaptable life-long learners and will work in multidisciplinary, culturally diverse and distributed teams.
They will also be competent users of technology.
More than a decade ago, the then ANU Department of Computer Science recognised a need for a framework that allowed our students to grow and develop well beyond a simple technical focus.
In particular, we recognised a need for them to engage more deeply with industry, government and the private sector to develop broad attributes required by employers.
These attributes included the ability to work in diverse teams, to deal with uncertainty and failure and to engage effectively with and manage the expectations of stakeholders.
We established a set of courses that have third year software engineering and IT students working in small teams led by fourth year software engineers.
These teams engage with industry, government and other agencies to tackle real-world problems using software.
Producing Australia’s best software engineering graduates
Since 2004, more than 600 students have worked on many projects in domains as diverse as defence, art, sport, science and medicine.
Our teams have worked with start-ups, small-to-medium enterprises, government and research labs across ANU, CSIRO and the Defence Science and Technology Group.
We have also introduced and updated other courses to further enhance the capabilities of our graduates and ensure they are at the leading edge of good practice.
These initiatives are playing an important role in producing what we and our industry partners consider are some of Australia’s best software engineering graduates.
However, the world keeps changing.
In recent years, students have started their own businesses while still at university.
Many more dream of doing so.
Creating the TechLauncher initiative
In response to this and the rapidly growing start-up community around ANU, we created the TechLauncher initiative.
TechLauncher builds on our work by adding an option for students to work towards creating their own student-run start-up businesses for university credit.
The program is open to students from any discipline across ANU.
In 2015, we had around 130 students enrolled in TechLauncher courses and about 70 project proposals from industry, the public sector, ANU research labs and students.
Of these, 28 were selected by students, including 11 student-run start-ups.
Most have delivered real value to their client or have launched software using Apple’s App Store, Google Play or Amazon Web Services.
One such group, the Design Profile team, developed a psychometric testing tool for The ThinkPlace Foundation that gives users an insight into their natural design tendencies, behaviours and aptitudes.
This tool has already been used by many, including the United Nations in Nairobi.
This year we will continue to improve TechLauncher and, in particular, the involvement of students from arts, commerce, public policy and other areas of the University.
We aim to form truly multidisciplinary teams that are able to thrive during the boom to come.
Originally published at reporter.anu.edu.au
For more information about TechLauncher, visit cs.anu.edu.au/TechLauncher