A Robotics Field Engineer at CSIRO’s Data61, Amelia Luu is applying her skills and experience to help revolutionise Australian industries.
A member of the Wildcat software team, Amelia considers collaborating with partners to integrate cutting-edge tech as one of her favourite parts of the job. Here, we chat to her about the projects she’s working on, the potential 3D SLAM holds, and her advice on the tech sector on increasing diversity and inclusion.
What led you to choose a career in tech?
I initially chose to study engineering because it was so broad that surely I’d find an area that resonated with me. I was still sceptical about it even after a year of study, but luckily after some research I discovered a field of engineering that mixed technology with human elements – mechatronics and robotics.
The more experiences I had, and continue to have, with technology and robotics cemented my belief that they have the potential to have a positive and revolutionary impact on society.
What attracted you to join CSIRO’s Data61?
As Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO is well-regarded by the local STEM community and general public.
During my previous role, I’d made a few connections with people at CSIRO’s Data61 and their Robotics and Autonomous Systems team and was offered to tour their Brisbane lab. It was an impressive display of the great work that’s done at CSIRO, and I was inspired.
So, when my now team leader reached out with an opportunity, I knew it’d be the right next step for me, and here I am.
Can you please describe your professional background and the areas you specialise in?
I graduated from QUT with an Honours Degree in Engineering, majoring in mechatronics and minoring in robotics and medical engineering. I’ve previously worked in projects that apply 3D printing technology and robotics in various contexts from automating industrial manufacturing processes to developing assistive medical devices.
I'm currently a Robotics Field Engineer within CSIRO’s Wildcat team, focussing on the integration of Wildcat software onto customer hardware.
Can you share an example of a data and digital science project that you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of, and that has achieved positive impact? What was the biggest lesson you took away from the experience?
In my previous roles, collaborating with manufacturers on the workshop floor to integrate robotic technology into their operations was one of my most meaningful projects, especially as I got to see first-hand the advances it made. Workshop staff have an incredible amount of experience and knowledge, and I’m fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work alongside them. Those experiences reinforced why collaboration with more than other roboticists is so critical.
The work I’ve done with these manufacturing companies proves the significance and impact robotics can have on an industry.
Now, with Wildcat, my role allows me to engage with so many more industries and our technology has the capacity to revolutionise the way they work. I’m excited to collaborate with our partners and to see what impacts we will bring in the future.
What are some of the projects you’re working on at Data61? What about them excites you?
In the Wildcat team, we’re working towards solving the challenge of autonomous spatial awareness to an incredible level of accuracy, reliability, and robustness. The team has developed core platform technology using 3D SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping). Our software feeds awareness data into robots and other autonomous systems which enable them to understand and work in challenging and complex environments, and there’s nothing like Wildcat on the market yet.
It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Wildcat team, and there are some big things on the horizon.
In your opinion, what’s the single biggest change that needs to happen to encourage more women to pursue careers in tech?
We need diversity within all workforces, not just the technology sector. The critical piece of this is that it’s not just “one type” of diversity that needs to improve, but intersectional diversity that needs to be achieved. A quote I always come back to on this topic is, “you don’t have all the answers if you don’t have all the voices.”
Diversity breeds empathy, and this is what’s necessary to help break down both conscious and unconscious biases which are still very prevalent today.
How can colleagues, organisations and industries within tech better support and enable women?
It’s an ‘all hands’ issue.
Everyone has a part to play in enabling a diverse and inclusive workforce within the technology sector. There’s a lot of great work being done to empower young women and people from diverse backgrounds to be involved in STEM and eradicate negative stereotypes.
Getting women into the workforce is only half the battle. Organisations and industries need to do the work to encourage women to stay. Recognition and removal of the institutionalised bias that has been built in for decades needs to happen before anything can truly change.
What advice would you give to women and girls wanting to pursue a career in tech?
Working in technology has given me the opportunity to solve real-world challenges and make a positive impact on people, businesses, and ultimately Australia, and this has been incredibly exciting and fulfilling.
People underestimate the amount of creativity that goes into tech, especially in problem solving. This sector is so broad, you can choose your opportunities and find a way that works for you.
If you’re interested in knowing more, reach out! Find people and mentors doing what you find fascinating and talk to them. Stay curious about life and keep exploring.