Inside the Australian Defence Force Science Technology Group

The Australian Defence Force offers diverse graduate career opportunities – in this article, find out where a civil engineering degree can take you in the ADF.
Australian Defence Force
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Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Jennifer Burgess enjoys logically reasoning; her core subjects in high school were maths, physics, chemistry and English and she went where those subjects led her, choosing to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering.

In her current role as the Australian Army’s Senior Military Officer to the Defence Science Technology Group, based at Edinburgh, she plays a part in facilitating the delivery of future Army technologies.

'There are a lot of scientists with great ideas working within Defence. I’m fortunate to be in a role where I am able to help align those ideas with Army’s Science and Technology (S&T) priorities,' Jennifer said.

Jennifer is applying her stakeholder management skills to connect scientists with their Army Capability Manager counterpart and the potential military users of the technology.

Her day job involves reaching out to key areas within Army and connecting key personnel to facilitate the understanding of S&T requirements and subsequent trials of new technologies.  These activities inform modifications to optimise military concepts of employment, address gaps, and ultimately lead to delivery of capability.

Jennifer shared a recent example of an assigned task to upgrade a land-based sensor to provide enhanced protection for soldiers. Jennifer and her colleagues saw the potential to take this one step further, integrating the sensor with in-service battle management systems to enhance its effect. This was achieved for Army within the time assigned and with minimal additional investment.

'It is about seeing beyond the task in front of you and understanding how that piece of work fits in with other related programs. Understanding the future operating environment and how technology may be employed to achieve the required effect is key,' Jennifer said.

'We really do get to work on some exciting, cutting edge projects. Imagine a drone responding to human voice and gesture commands rather than through remote controls,' she said.

'Work opportunities as an Army Engineer are so diverse, from establishing and communicating requirements, design and construction activities, acquisition of materiel systems, to employing the technologies to achieve the capability effect,” Jennifer said. “I expect that you may have to work across multiple companies to experience the range of opportunities offered within the ADF.'

Jennifer joined the Australian Army in 1994 as a General Service Officer and says her career has been challenging and rewarding. 'I started out designing and building civil infrastructure including roads, housing, medical facilities and related essential services.'

On deployment in East Timor, Jennifer was part of an Army Design Engineering Agency and was responsible for the design and quality management of construction work in support of deployed personnel. Later the team transitioned to reconstruction work for the local communities.

Jennifer enjoys building teams and ensuring that people are suitably resourced so that they can achieve their objectives. 'It is a career path which provides opportunities for continued learning and development. I was supported to complete a Masters in Vehicle Technology following my deployment to East Timor,' Jennifer said.

As a University of Adelaide Alumni, Jennifer chose to pursue an Army career after obtaining her degree. The comradeship, diversity of work and professional development opportunities that the ADF offers is demonstrated by her continued commitment and length service.   

The Australian Defence Force offers degree qualified Australians diverse work, the opportunity to lead and manage from the start of their careers while making a real impact.

Defence University Sponsorship is a great option for those interested in a Navy, Army or Air Force career. Have your fees paid while studying for a relevant degree at your choice of accredited university; receive a salary and walk straight into a great ADF role when you graduate.

To learn how you could apply your knowledge to a rewarding Officer career in the Navy, Army or Air Force visit the Australian Defence Force profile at GradAustralia.