Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships

Our Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships offer students the opportunity of collaborating with our scientists. Applications for the 2016/2017 Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships are now open and will close on Monday 22 August 2016.

About our Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships

Our Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships are run over the Australian summer holidays and offers high achieving and promising undergraduate students the opportunity to collaborate with leading CSIRO scientists in our world class facilities.

These prestigious scholarships are highly sought after. Every year we offer around 100 opportunities to eligible undergraduate students in a number of scientific disciplines.

Beyond their scholarship, students may progress to further opportunities with us. In the past, some students have been offered paid employment; others have had the opportunity to undertake their Honours or PhD projects jointly with us. In fact, several of our very senior managers can trace their history with the organisation back to a summer vacation scholarship.

CSIRO vacation scholars

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[Music plays and Data 61 and CSIRO logos and text appears: Creating our Data Driven Future, www.data61.com.au]

[Images and text flash through of Julian Tran, Ben Nicholson, Holly Hutson and Michael Denes]

[Image changes to show a view from an upper storey window of a footpath with a person walking along, a bike rider and then a group of three people walking]

Ben Nicholson: When I first arrived on the first day of the scholarship I did not know anything about what it was going to be like.  It was a bit daunting.  I was just going in blind. 

[Image changes to show people walking on a walkway]

Initially I thought everyone would be wearing suits and button up shirts but it was very relaxed.  Everyone was very nice and friendly.

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson talking to the camera]

Holly Hutson: On the first day I was pretty nervous about the new experience.  I was pretty daunted.

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson walking towards a building]

So I think what put my nerves to rest on my first day was just how welcoming and friendly everyone was and how relaxed everybody seemed to be.

[Image changes to show a male with Julian Tran, Ben Nicholson, Holly Hutson and Michael Denes looking at a computer screen]

Michael Denes: To show you some results, I guess...

Male: Like what’s the challenge?

[Camera zooms in on Michael Denes and the male and then the image changes to show Michael Denes talking to the camera and text appears: Michael Denes]

Michael Denes: Oh the challenge is to validate CSIRO’s new options...  Hi, I’m Michael. 

[Image changes to show Michael Denes walking in front of a brick building and then turning to face the camera]

I study Mathematics in Sydney and I was part of the CSIRO Data 61 Vacation Student Scholarship.  One of the great things about the scholarship programme is the projects you actually work on have an impact on not just the organisation of CSIRO but on Australia. 

[Image changes to show Michael Denes, Holly Hutson and Julian Tran around a computer screen and then the camera zooms in on Michael Denes]

Being part of the programme has helped me appreciate how much there is in the area of Financial Maths.  So in terms of my future there are many more paths that I can follow.

[Image changes to show Ben Nicholson and text appears: Ben Nicholson]

Ben Nicholson: Hi, I’m Ben. 

[Image changes to show Ben walking past a brick building and then turning and facing the camera]

I’m studying Software Engineering in Sydney and I was a part of the CSIRO Data 61 Vacation Student Scholarship.

[Image changes to show Ben Nicholson at a table and talking to Michael Denes, Julian Tran, Holly Hutson and another male and then walking through an office and working around a table]

When I was a kid I always loved playing computer games on my Dad’s Mac and so I’ve always had an interest in computers and technology. 

[Camera zooms in on Ben Nicholson]

Looking at the CSIRO Scholarship Programme it’s a good chance to use my summer for something productive rather than just sitting around and I could see that they were offering different software related projects and that really aligned with my interests.

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson talking to the camera and then the image changes to show Holly Hutson walking past a brick building and turning and facing the camera]

Holly Hutson:  Hi, I’m Holly and I study I.T. and Interactive and Visual Design in Brisbane and the best thing about being part of the Vacation Programme was all the people I got to meet and getting to see all the amazing things they were working on. 

[Image changes to show Michael Denes, a male, Holly Hutson, Ben Nicholson and Julian Tran looking at a computer screen and then the camera zooms in on Holly Hutson talking to the camera]

Things that stood out for me most was just how innovative everything was and how many projects weren’t just sort of theoretical.  They had real applications in real life. 

[Image changes to show Michael Denes, a male, Holly Hutson, Ben Nicholson and Julian Tran talking around a table]

So there was a lot of ones that would be really helpful to people and can make a big difference to people’s lives. 

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson talking to the camera]

I think my biggest take home from the Vac Scholarship Programme was, sort of, understanding a lot more about how research works. 

[Image changes to show a back view of Holly Hutson on a pedestrian crossing]

Before the scholarship programme I was fairly unsure about where I wanted to go.  I was interested in research but I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted to do. 

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson talking to the camera]

So the programme has definitely reaffirmed my interest in doing research and I’m now planning on doing an Honours Degree at the end of my degree.

[Image changes to show Julian Tran talking to the camera and text appears: Julian Tran]

Julian Tran: Hi, my name is Julian. 

[Image changes to show Julian Tran walking in front of a brick building and then turning and facing the camera]

I’m studying Science in Melbourne and I was a part of the CSIRO Data 61 Vacation Student Scholarship. 

[Image changes to show a male, Ben Nicholson, Holly Hutson and Julian Tran looking at a computer screen]

The reason I have applied for Vacation Scholarship was because I wanted to do something over the summer. 

[Camera zooms in on Julian Tran and then camera zooms out to show Holly Hutson, Julian Tran, Ben Nicholson, Michael Denes and a male looking at a screen]

One thing I was looking for in a programme was the ability to be able to focus on a single project over an extended period of time. 

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson, Julian Tran, Ben Nicholson and Michael Denes stepping out of a lift]

CSIRO’s Vacation Scholarship allowed me to do that.  It also let me work with many new technologies that are only just coming out today.

[Image changes to show Michael Denes pointing to a computer screen while a male, Holly Hutson, Ben Nicholson and Julian Tran look on] 

Michael Denes: That’s the original Black Shoals Model and this is CSIRO’s new model here.  So you’ve got a... 

[Image changes to show Michael Denes talking to the camera]

The best part about working with Data 61 was the fact that I could work with world class researchers at world class institutions.

[Image changes to show Julian Tran talking to the camera and then the image changes to show Holly Hutson, Julian Tran, Ben Nicholson and Michael Denes walking up some stairs]

Julian Tran:  The best thing about working at Data 61 was being able to see what all the other researchers were working on and seeing the wide range of areas that they were doing their research in.

[Image changes to show a tablet screen and then the camera zooms out to show Michael Denes, a male and Ben Nicholson and then the camera zooms in on Ben Nicholson]

Ben Nicholson: Being able to talk to CSIRO staff who will help me understand what it’s like to work in the industry and in the workplace.  It’s nice to know that the project I was working on over the summer could potentially lead to have eventual impact. 

[Image changes to show a rear view of Michael Denes, Julian Tran, Holly Hutson and Ben Nicholson on a walkway.

Holly Hutson:  What I would say to anybody who’s thinking about applying for the CSIRO Scholarship is definitely do it.

[Image changes to show a facing view of Ben Nicholson, Holly Hutson, Julian Tran and Michael Denes walking across a pedestrian crossing towards the camera]

 It’s been an amazing experience and there was a lot of projects I wouldn’t have realised CSIRO would be involved in that they are involved in. 

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson talking to the camera]

So there’s really something for pretty much anybody in any of the science and technology fields. 

[Image changes to show fingers typing on a computer and then the image changes to show Michael Denes talking to the camera]

Michael Dennis: It’s a really enjoyable experience.  You get to work on world class research with world class facilities and the opportunities are endless. 

[Image changes to show a male, Julian Tran, Michael Denes, Holly Hutson and Ben Nicholson talking around a table and then the camera pans around the table and zooms in on the male]

Julian Tran:  I really recommend just going for it because at CSIRO while you are still a student you are not made to feel like one. 

[Image changes to show Julian Tran]

Sure you are given all the mentoring and advice that you need because this may be your first time in industry setting but what you do is going to have an impact on the organisation and you are treated as such.

[Image changes to show Michael Denes talking to the camera]

Michael Denes: One word to describe CSIRO would be collaboration.

[Image changes to show Julian Tran talking to the camera]

Julian Tran: Leaders

[Image changes to show Ben Nicholson talking to the camera]

Ben Nicholson: Innovators

[Image changes to show Holly Hutson talking to the camera]

Holly Hutson: Exciting, just because my whole experience has been very exciting.  The research is really exciting and everybody there seems excited about the potentials for technology and our future.

[Music plays and Data 61 and CSIRO logos and text appears: Creating our Data Driven Future, www.data61.com.au  

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What the scholarships offer you

Students will have the chance to work on a real project in science, engineering or a related field such as science communication. Placements are full time and typically begin in late November or early December and can be from 8 - 12 weeks in length.

Successful applicants are able to expand their skills and knowledge and there are often opportunities to attend conferences and training courses during their time with us. Students are usually required to write a report on their work experience and have the opportunity to make a presentation to their peers and supervisors at the end of the scholarship.

Vacation students will be paid a stipend and in some cases may also receive a contribution towards travel and accommodation costs.

How much oil can an oil seed hold: As a summer student Frankie worked on comparing oil seeds, producing more oil using the same amount of land could increase return for farmers and help meet future demands.

Show transcript

[Text appears: How much oil can an oil seed hold]

[Image changes to show Frankie Rickard]

Frankie Rickard: I really enjoyed my summer at the CSIRO and have definitely learned a lot throughout my time here.

[Image changes to show Frankie working with another colleague]

The first part of my project involved comparing a number of oil seeds. Just a few examples of products that use plant oils at the moment are green plastic bags which you buy from the supermarket where the slipping agent comes from Canola. Soybean newspaper ink is used in more than 90 percent of American newspapers. And detergents can be made from coconut or palm oil.

[Camera pans of an example of each of the products as Frankie mentions them and then changes back to Frankie working with her colleague on some plant samples]

If we're able to produce more oil from the same amount of land and intensify production there are a number of benefits. Not only does this increase return for farmers but the additional oil could help meet increased demands for food oil and the surplus could be used for industrial purposes.

So coming back to the original question how much oil can an oil seed hold? Well that is something we know that varies between seeds and something that we're hoping to increase in the future.

The best part of the project is getting a feel for how things work in the lab and learning a bit more about science as a career rather than from the lecture theatre at university, which really opened my eyes to science on a larger scale.

[CSIRO Logo appears with text: Big ideas start here www.csiro.au]

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Requirements and eligibility

Vacation scholarships are intended primarily for students who:

  • are currently enrolled at an Australian university
  • have completed three years of a full-time undergraduate course preferably in science or engineering however exceptional second year students may be considered
  • have a strong academic record (credit average or higher)
  • intend to go on to honours and/or postgraduate study.

When to apply

Applications for our 2016/17 Undergraduate Vacation Scholarships are now open and will close on Monday 22 August 2016.

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