On Thursday 15th April 2021 the SA DST Alumni Group held it first activity for 2021 at the Mawson Lakes Hotel Conference Centre’s Lakeside Room. Approximately 32 Alumni members attended the event, which proved to be a success.
Because of the COVID pandemic, this was the first Alumni activity since the inaugural meeting of the re-vitalised DST Alumni on 19th July 2018 held on-site at DSTG in Edinburgh and Melbourne at which the then Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Alex Zelinsky, gave a keynote presentation on the current roles and future directions of the DST Group (a simultaneous meeting was held in Melbourne via video link).
The recent April 2021 event included a presentation on current DSTG directions and activities given by Dr David Kershaw, Chief, Science Engagement and Impact Division. Dr Kershaw gave insights into DSTG’s increasing engagement with other Australian research organisations, academia and industry to strengthen its capability to deliver science and technology to support Defence clients. This was followed by presentations on two of DSTG’s STar Shot programs: Disruptive Weapon Effects given by the STar Shot Leader, Dr Nathalie Colineau and Resilient Multi-Mission Space given by STaR Shot Leader, Rod Smith. All presentations were well received by the participants.
SA Alumni Group convenor, Dr Warren Harch, also addressed the gathering. Warren advised members that the SA Working Group is still quite active. The Group, comprising Bevan Bates, Warren Harch, Steve Pendry and Mark Taylor meets regularly and provides minutes of the meetings to DSTG to maintain continuity. He noted that the group continued to meet regularly via video conference during the height of the COVID crisis. So, despite external appearances, things are still being progressed, albeit more slowly due to COVID constraints.
Dr Harch then sought an indication of the level of interest from members in regard to some potential future Alumni activities. These activities include: establishment of a men’s shed type activity to undertake restoration of historical DST artefacts for museum display, the potential for Alumni members to engage with DSTG through mentoring and other unpaid support activities, members contributing their stories to a DSTG Wiki / blog (the blog was to provide a mechanism for DSTG staff to seek input from Alumni members on past activities which might inform current work). While there are several formal publications on the history of DST most are big picture summaries of major projects and accomplishments that do not track in detail the formation and demise of laboratories, divisions, branches and groups and even some of the minor sites. By drawing on the memories of Alumni members, the Wiki could also provide a means to develop a detailed time-line of the evolution of DST organisational structure and site histories.
All members are encouraged to contact Warren Harch if they wish to offer comments on these potential activities or suggest other potential activities for the Alumni to pursue.
The DST Alumni-SA Working Group would like to thank Dr Kershaw and Kathy Marzocca for their ongoing support in planning and running the event, and thanks to Dr Nathalie Colineau and Rod Smith for their presentations on two of DSTG’s STar Shot programs, which were greatly appreciated.
Dr Warren Harch
DST Alumni – SA Working Group Convener