Page 20: of Marine Technology Magazine (July 2021)

Autonomous Vehicle Operations

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Profile Melanie Olsen, AIMS

Australian Institute of Marine

Science (AIMS) Technology

Development Engineering

Team Leader Melanie Olsen with a prototype autonomous underwater vehicle.


U.S. collaborators face-to-face for the protect coral reefs rather than national autonomous systems industry and Gov- ? rst time, they were surprised to discov- sovereignty. They are driving rapid tech- ernment organizations such as Defense er she wasn’t a bloke called ‘Mel’ (short nological innovation to open new capa- to harness AIMS’ capability, tropical for Melvin they had thought). bilities for Australia’s tropical marine marine expertise and nimbleness in

It wasn’t unusual for stakeholders research agency. conducting test and evaluation, as well meeting her to assume she was the ex- The aim is to design technological so- as enabling AIMS scientists and engi- ecutive assistant rather than the manag- lutions to enable AIMS to meet its 2025 neers to learn from colleagues in re- ing engineer. Strategy target to deliver twice the infor- lated industries.

Throughout her career in a male-dom- mation in half the time and at half the Olsen has been the IEEE (Institute of inated industry, Olsen pushed through unit cost. Electrical and Electronic Engineers) those awkward moments of being singled This includes introducing autonomous Northern Australia Section Chair since out, focusing on delivering solutions to vehicles and arti? cial intelligence (AI) 2020, joined the Australian Army Re- the challenge at hand. While she loved to make data collection and analysis serves in 2019 and is a competitive pow- her job, the long hours, overnight inter- more robust, ef? cient and safe. These erlifter. She’s a member of the AIMS national teleconferences and short-notice solutions are being sustainably integrat- Equity, Diversity and Gender (EDGE) travel was dif? cult to manage as a single ed into AIMS’ tropical marine observa- Working Group which was awarded mother with no family support nearby. tion network. Athena Swan Bronze status in 2020 for

Olsen saw the opportunity to apply for She is also Project Director of Reef- its commitment to improving gender eq- a job closer to home with the Australian Works, AIMS’ newly established tropi- uity, diversity and inclusion.

Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) po- cal marine technology test range, the ? rst Her advice to girls and women seeking sition of engineering team lead, technol- such facility in Australia. ReefWorks of- a career in engineering is simple: “Civi- ogy development. She started in 2016 fers a national capability to test marine lization was built on people giving it a and discovered there were many simi- technologies, remotely-piloted and au- crack. Don’t go in worrying you are not larities to her role in Defense. tonomous systems, and new sensors in a capable or good enough. You’ll learn as

These days she leads an innovative secure, tropical marine environment. you go, and soon you’ll realize that no team developing systems helping to It opens opportunities for the marine one has all the answers.” 20 July/August 2021

MTR #5 (18-33).indd 20 7/30/2021 11:18:56 AM

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