It’s critically important to the future of Australia’s technology sector that we invest in creating career paths for students and graduates. Our partnership with the Melbourne School of Engineering is already producing results.

At the Melbourne School of Engineering (MSE), students’ career paths are looking clearer than ever: Telstra’s strategic industry partnership is already helping students apply their academic expertise in the technology industry.

While undertaking his PhD, Dr Allan Feng was awarded a Telstra internship as part of the Australian Postgraduate Research Intern (APR.Intern) program. His work on smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions has already led to his internship transitioning into an extended contract with Telstra. It’s one of the first proof points of our ongoing partnership with several Australian universities, and highlights the opportunities for students and researchers to take their experiences from the classroom into the real world.

At MSE, Allan’s PhD investigated ways to shorten signalling delays or queuing delays in wireless technologies and the application of machine learning and advanced mathematics. Now, he’s looking to develop improved IoT devices that can tackle a range of telecommunications challenges using the skills he’s gained at the University of Melbourne.

Allan says that as well as a world-class technology education, his time at the Melbourne School of Engineering gave him soft skills that translate across disciplines. “My research at UniMelb was to apply mathematical analysis and machine learning techniques to shorten latency in wireless communication technologies such as WiFi and mobile cellular networks. I also did a bit of programming in different languages (Python, C, Matlab) for network simulation that was used to evaluate my work.

“Now, I’m currently doing embedded system development in the IoT (Internet of Things) department here at Telstra. Although there’s a lot to learn, the knowledge I gained from my research in communication networks helped me understand the basics of IoT networks. My programming skills are applied to firmware development and data analysis; in general, the research skills I learnt from PhD really boost my problem solving ability here.”

Noting how his own research career has been given a strong start through the internship, Dr Feng says bringing students and industry together delivers an enormous mutual benefit.

Creator space connections

Telstra Creator Space Render - Melbourne Connect - University of Melbourne

We collaborated with the University of Melbourne to design and build the Telstra Creator Space, a laboratory to be housed within the University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Connect multidisciplinary precinct nearing completion in Carlton.

The laboratory will provide a practical space for collaboration and skills building for students and industry partners. The partnership will also create several Telstra-funded scholarships for women and Indigenous Australian students from rural and regional areas in STEM subjects. In Dr Allan Feng’s case, he was undecided about whether to pursue a career in academia or industry until his supervisors encouraged him to apply for the internship through the APR.Intern program. Internships are supported by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment to connect PhD students with industry through short-term research projects.

Dr Feng says academia stills holds a strong interest for him, but in the meantime, he is enthusiastic about having a research position that is aimed at achieving tangible technological developments that advance how we live.

It is why he studied engineering (majoring in electronics engineering) in the first place: “I was always interested in technology and building my own devices … hands-on DIY,” he says. “I am interested in technology that improves people’s lives.”

For the next few years, Allan says his main aim is to keep improving his technical skills and knowledge in an industry environment. Beyond this he is anticipating further studies to complement his engineering skills with business management.