A funding scheme from the UNSW Faculty of Engineering brought five academic visitors from to UNSW in late 2022 and early 2023 for valuable short-term visits.

The Diversity in Engineering Academic Visitors Funding Scheme enables academics who are women, non-binary, gender diverse or from low- or middle-income countries to visit UNSW Sydney for collaboration, research and meaningful connection.

The academic visitors span from junior to senior levels and are nominated by a Faculty staff member, who hosts the visitor during their stay.

The visitors in 2022-23 were:

  • A/Prof Julie Tucker from Oregon State University, USA (hosted by Prof Jay Kruzic from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering).
  • Alfita Handayani from Indonesia (hosted by Dr Craig Roberts from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering)
  • Miguel Solis Cid from Chile (hosted by Dr Francisco Cruz Naranjo from the School of Computer Science and Engineering)
  • Alessandra Carrireo from New York, USA (hosted by A/Prof Bernd Gludovatz from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering)
  • Robert Ssekitoleko from Uganda (hosted by A/Prof Lauren Kark from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering)

Each visitor presented a seminar during their visit, with some participating in site visits or field trips, networking events and more.

Prof Kruzic said that A/Prof Tucker’s visit to UNSW exceeded all expectations. She gave a research seminar on her field of expertise—long term ageing of Ni-Cr-Fe alloys used in nuclear reactors—toured the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and even gave a guest lecture for a postgraduate class which was recorded to be used in future years. He said that the benefits of her visit will extend well beyond the time she was present in Australia.

“Considering there is a shortage of female academics in the Nuclear Engineering field both nationally and internationally, having A/Prof. Tucker as a close member of our international network will help UNSW to provide a diverse and inclusive learning experience in our Nuclear Engineering program,” said Prof Kruzic.

For Dr Naranjo, Miguel Solis Cid’s visit from Chile was a great opportunity to get together in person to continue work on some collaborative initiatives.

“We continued work on various projects including one focused on cognitive robotics and a second involving a summer school for Latin American students. We were also able to outline a research proposal that might be used for an external research funding application,” said Dr Nanjaro.

A/Prof Bernd Gludovatz said that Dr. Carriero, an expert in bone mechanics and mechanobiology, very much enjoyed her visit and commented on many of UNSW’s world-class offerings.

“Dr Carriero was impressed with our facilities and capabilities, and fascinated to learn about how we conduct our experimental studies on materials other than bone to gather inspiration for new strategies to investigate bone fragility.”

He added that it was highly beneficial for students to have the opportunity to engage with the noted academic, saying, “For our students, Dr. Carriero was an inspiring visitor who not only showed research that is not well established in the faculty, but a visitor who encouraged diversity and gender balance in the field of Mechanical and Material Engineering, where female faculties and students are usually a minority.”

A/Prof Lauren Kark said that in her opinion, the scheme offered a key benefit that went beyond expectations: the opportunity to personify Robert beyond the voice on the phone.

“The personal interaction I had with Robert had a profound impact, fueling heightened creativity, collegiality, and a sense of boundless possibilities,” said A/Prof Kark.

“Through the scheme, I was able to showcase my commitment to our relationship by establishing genuine personal connections with Robert. Notably, I facilitated numerous introductions and tours that had the potential to greatly benefit his research, teaching, and service to his university. Through these activities, we opened up new avenues for collaboration and knowledge exchange. The scheme not only strengthened our bond but also demonstrated the dedication I have towards nurturing our partnership.”

The latest recipients under the scheme were announced on 8 May 2023. Visiting UNSW in 2023-24 are:

  • Laura Cagigal from Spain, to be hosted by A/Prof Kristen Splinter from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  • Wakhitatik Nurfaida from Indonesia, to be hosted by Dr Mitchell Harley from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  • Danting Yang from China, to be hosted by Dr Fei Deng from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering;
  • Pamela Carreno-Medrano from Monash in Australia, to be hosted by Dr Francisco Cruz from the School of Computer Science and Engineering;
  • Baharak Rastegari from the UK, to be hosted by A/Prof Haris Aziz from the School of Computer Science and Engineering; and
  • Maryam Ghazisaeidi from the USA, to be hosted by A/Prof Bernd Gludovatz from the School of Mechanical Engineering.

The success of the Diversity in Engineering Academic Visitors Funding Scheme has been well recognised in the Faculty, and is playing an important role in raising the profile of UNSW as an institution committed to supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion in engineering research.