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ATSE column

Setting the Record Straight on Coral Bleaching

By Russell Reichelt

The mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef this summer is the most damaging recorded.

Over the past 12 months, corals in most tropical regions across the world have experienced the most severe mass coral bleaching ever recorded. By June this year, 22% of coral died on the 3000 reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, with most of the mortality occurring in the far north above Cooktown.

Food Safety Rests on Four Interlocking Issues

By Kaye Basford

Systems, technology, culture and trust are essential elements of safety in our food supply.

Australian and Chinese agricultural leaders have agreed on the need to address a pyramid of interlocking issues to address the world’s requirements for a safe and sustainable food chain. They have identified the issues of systems and technology, underpinning culture and trust, as the key requirements to deliver food safety and win international community support.

Rethinking Australia’s Carbon Abatement Contracts

By Bill Burrows

Australia’s total net CO2 emissions are much lower than are implied by published numbers.

Australia is often described as one of the world’s leading emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2) – a consequence of our small population, advanced economy and relatively large land area.

Australia’s High Schools Are Into STELR

By Doreen Thomas

The STELR program now reaches 500 schools, 50,000 students and 1500 teachers each year.

The campaign to get Australian secondary students interested in science and technology courses and careers has passed an extraordinary milestone with some 20% of Australian high schools now participating in the STELR program driven by the Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).

The STELR (Science and Technology Education Leveraging Relevance) Program is aimed at science and maths students in years 6–10. It is now running in more than 500 schools in all states and territories, reaching an estimated 50,000 secondary students and more than 1500 teachers each year.

We Need to Come to Terms with Unconscious Bias

Credit: Seraphim Vector

Credit: Seraphim Vector

Training that increases our awareness of unconscious bias is useful but insufficient.

In most situations, job interviewers try hard to be fair and treat all applicants equally. But they will probably be unaware of cognitive biases that can affect their interviewing behaviour and subsequent decision-making about the suitability of each applicant:

  • in-group bias, which causes us to be more comfortable with and favour people like us – people who share the same gender, background, experience, interests or personality type;

Additive Manufacturing: Collaboration Trumps Complexity

By Mike Heard

Subsidies are required to provide industry-wide access to additive manufacturing technologies.

Additive manufacturing is a generic but advanced manufacturing technology that’s essential to any diverse complex manufacturing economy. Successful adoption of additive manufacturing is itself a complex undertaking and, for other than very large businesses, prohibitively expensive and risky if attempted in-house and alone.

Our Wastewater Is a Valuable, Recoverable Resource

By John Burgess

Australia can quickly turn our wastewater from a burden to a benefit.

Australia is literally wasting millions – maybe billions – of dollars each year by not extracting the full value of its wastewater.

Phosphorus, nitrogen and energy are necessary for life, and continued extraction of non-renewable forms of these resources is ultimately not possible. Each of these is contained in our wastewater, which is rich in nutrients, carbon, energy, and other inorganic and organic resources.

So how do we optimise this value and avoid wasting these water-borne resources, which have the proven potential to generate energy, produce fertilisers and save money?

Unconventional Gas Needs the Right Support and Controls

By Vaughan Beck

Unconventional gas faces two issues: its role as an energy source and social acceptance.

Australia needs extensive research, an effective regulatory system and best-practice monitoring to allow it to take advantage of the substantial opportunities offered by unconventional gas resources such as coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas.

In a social environment that demands reduced greenhouse gas emissions, unconventional gas must be considered as part of the nation’s menu of energy options.

Vision for a Science Nation Opens the Door to Our Future

By Margaret Hartley

We need to develop an overarching vision for innovation in Australia.

There are a number of initiatives and policies that the government should pursue as it seeks to meet the recommendations from the Chief Scientist’s paper Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future. Competitiveness, education and training, research and international engagement are four theme areas where the government could focus when responding to the challenges raised by Prof Ian Chubb.

Retaining the Lead in Solar Cell Technology

By Stuart Wenham

Australia must embrace change to realise its advantage in solar photovoltaics.

Australian research and education have figured prominently in the development and commercialisation of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology and the establishment and operation of many of the world’s largest PV manufacturing companies. This is due in part to Australia’s long-term international leadership in researching and developing some of the highest-efficiency solar cell technologies in the world, offering PV engineering education and training opportunities, and pioneering PV applications for remote telecommunications and residential use.