Today, new starters at The Australian National University (ANU) College of Engineering & Computer Science (CECS) enjoyed lunch in the newly refurbished Hanna Neumann Building courtyard, where student-led organisations set up stalls — and in one case, a rocket capable of leaving earth's atmosphere — as academics and staff introduced themselves and welcomed them to ANU.
Professor Amanda Barnard, Deputy Director of the School of Computing, opened the event with welcoming remarks about College values, student experience, and joining a vibrant, collaborative community.
"The world class researchers and educators that surround you are now part of your community, and you are part of theirs," she said. "Before long, your mentors and advisors will become your co-investigators, colleagues and employers. This community is united not just by an institution but by the mission we share; most importantly to learn and then apply that learning toward the betterment of humanity."
More from Professor Barnard's remarks:
"By acknowledging the First Nations people, whose land on which we meet, we acknowledge we are connected to something much larger than ourselves. And indeed, the same can be said for your university experience – prepare to be connected in a multitude of ways, prepare to have your world transformed, and in turn, transform the world around you. It is my intention that during your time here with us, you will be presented with opportunities to engage in an outstanding education environment and with a variety of experiences that will support your development and prepare you for our evolving future. From today, we ask you to be an integral part of our mission. We will inspire you to go out into the world to find the right kinds of problems, and work with you to solve them in ways which are truly reimagined.
"Now is the time to get out of your comfort zone. Try new subjects, connect with a diverse group of people — think big picture. From a CECS perspective we call this systems thinking — the application of this concept within the university setting will take you far. Explore the systems of community, education, and culture. I recently stated “The challenges faced by humanity today are too complex for one discipline to address, too large for one researcher or group alone, and too important to ignore.” Diversity is a competitive advantage — to which all of us can contribute. The CECS community believes strongly in the power of diversity, this is how we will realise our highest potential as individuals, and as a collective.
"Engineering, computing and cybernetics are, of course, not the only things we practice at the ANU, and they are not the only things we do at a world-class level. But in this accelerating age of innovative technology, our pursuits and discoveries are becoming essential to the advancement of almost every other field. The ANU is home to world-renowned experts in medicine, physics, astronomy, economics, climate science, and biology to name but a few. The world looks to ANU, in no small part because engineering, advanced computing techniques and the application of agency, autonomy and assurance have helped expand frontiers for all these fields, and many more.
"It was software developed right here at the School of Computing, in concert with the School of Biology, that empowered the global scientific community to hunt down variants and develop vaccines to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. And this campus has been home to cross-disciplinary research and development applying nanotechnology to renewable energy, equipping the public and private sector to take decisive steps to head off the disastrous impacts of climate change.
"The world class researchers and educators that surround you are now part of your community, and you are part of theirs. Before long, your mentors and advisors will become your co-investigators, colleagues and employers. This community is united not just by an institution but by the mission we share; most importantly to learn and then apply that learning toward the betterment of humanity.
"I encourage you to fully engage with the opportunities offered by CECS. Our Orientation Week activities are a great starting point to understand your study and connect with the available resources, services and experiences. Remember we are here to support you; to guide you and in some cases learn alongside you –ask for help when you need it. We are here to help; it is - quite literally - our job."