Nuclear science

Atomic theory

Open minds and a thirst for knowledge helped two engineers make a huge contribution to nuclear science.

Diversifying your skills is important for engineers, according to material sciences researcher and PhD student Michael Saleh (pictured above): “Engineering is a good degree, but you have to be multifaceted.”

He conducts experiments for ANSTO (the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation), liaises with industry partners, presents at conferences and engages with defence personnel and politicians.

Michael joined ANSTO in 2009 after completing a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering at RMIT, receiving ANSTO’s inaugural Young Researcher Award in 2015.

Making an impact

His current research involves impacting materials at very high speeds and recording the response. The results are then incorporated into computer models that allow the researchers to test how the materials respond in different scenarios, particularly those that can’t be tested in reality, such as doing blast testing in soil.

“A lot of those results had to come from models because the sheer force that’s being exerted on the sensors would destroy them in real life,” Michael says.

Michael is also using his skills to turn some of his ideas into more commercially focused solutions. Additionally, he’s doing a part-time PhD on radiation damage at UNSW, supported by ANSTO.

“I’m again leveraging my knowledge of modelling to try and come up with some new models of radiation damage, how to assess it at an engineering scale.”

On rotation

Ciara Collins (right) is working in the 2017 ANSTO graduate development program, working with some of Australia’s top researchers and engineers.

“The program involves rotations throughout ANSTO’s divisions, which means that I get to learn a lot about ANSTO and its multi-purpose reactor, which is definitely a unique experience in Australia and overseas.”

She studied medical imaging during her Master of Biomedical Engineering and learnt about some of the uses of radioisotopes, including Molybdenum-99. ANSTO is a key part of the supply of this radioisotope within Australia.

“When I saw ANSTO was hiring for the graduate program, it seemed like a good way to be able to see firsthand how that process happens and be able to be part of an organisation that contributes to the health of so many people – which is the reason that I chose biomedical engineering to begin with,” Ciara says.

– Laura Boness

To get there: ansto.gov.au

Meet more of the ANSTO team or check out our new Careers with Engineering magazine.

“It seemed a good way to be part of an organisation that contributes to the health of so many people.”