We're talking to software engineer Dr Sisi Liang from the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group at CSIRO's Data61 about what drew her to a career in tech, developing algorithms for computer vision applications, Industry 4.0, and how women can be encouraged from an early age to pursue an interest in STEM.
What led you to choose a career in tech? Tell us about your career journey so far.
I enjoyed studying all science subjects such as math or physics from an early age at school. Not surprisingly, I chose Electronics Engineering as my undergraduate major. Later, I became interested in digital signal processing and software development.
After I graduated, I continued to do master's degree at Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK. During that time, I undertook a research-based project which was about GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) implementation of a medical imaging application.
That research experience gave me a taste of how to use my existing knowledge to solve real world problems. After a couple of years of working in industrial research and development (R&D), I decided to pursue doctoral degree in medical imaging at Victoria University, Melbourne.
During my PhD study, I received an opportunity to work as an intern at IBM Australian Research Lab to develop medical image analysis algorithms. The next step was joining CSIRO’s Data61, where I am a research engineer with the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group (RASG).
Why did you want to become a part of CSIRO’s Data61?
The role of Software Engineer 3D Perception is the ideal blend of my experience in image processing and software development.
CSIRO is Australia's premier science and technology research organisation, and by joining Data61 I knew I’d be provided with many invaluable experiences and opportunities, such as working with people in different disciplines and learning new research skills and techniques.
What are some of the projects you’re working on at CSIRO’s Data61?
One of the projects I've been working on since joining the CSIRO is to develop 3D situational awareness technology that uses off the shelf security cameras combined with custom software and algorithms to monitor and track humans, vehicles and mobile plants in indoor industrial settings with the aim to increase safety and productivity.
I played a major role in the image processing algorithm development. We have successfully trialed this technology at client sites and we believe it has great potential for autonomous sensing applications in outdoor settings such as mining.
This technology strongly supports Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 initiatives and has been awarded a CSIRO DNFC -Engineering and Technology award.
What do you love about working in tech?
I have an opportunity to work on cutting-edge technologies which keep fascinating and inspiring me.
Why is gender diversity important in tech?
Having both women and men in your group means that you benefit from different perspectives which can encourage creativity and innovation, while also enhancing the collaborative process.
In your opinion, what’s the single biggest change that needs to happen in order to encourage more women to pursue careers in stem?
Introducing fun tech and STEM activities to girls throughout schooling, with teachers and institutions encouraging and supporting their participation.
How can colleagues, organisations and industries within STEM better support and enable women?
By creating more opportunities for women to grow their knowledge and skills.
What advice would you give to girls and women wanting to pursue a career in STEM?
Follow your dream, believe in yourself and work hard towards your goals.