Computational modelling – despite how it sounds – isn’t about building your own games on Roblox. It’s about saving lives with surgical implants, improving manufacturing processes, or even making wearable tech to cure sleep apnoea!
Dr Vu Nguyen, a senior research scientist at CSIRO, works on applied modelling in manufacturing to produce better products without using physical resources during the virtual manufacturing process.
“By assessing the virtual part or component on the computer screen, you can modify it, virtually 3D print it again, and then check every aspect until you have what you need.”
It’s the same process used to create implants for cancer patients – for example, to replace lost bone after the removal of a facial tumour.
Vu and his team use a CT scan to create a 3D model of the skull that they use for surgery planning and to produce a perfectly fitting facial implant. “We’re able to improve the quality of life for the patient and make the procedure safer and more efficient,” he says.
Computational thinking is a vital skill for budding computational modellers, and it’s opening doors to creating tech we never thought possible.
“Computers are now so powerful, we can imagine the impossible and make it a reality through simulations, then decide if it will work before it’s even made,” says Vu.
If you’re keen to improve your computational thinking skills and get started in a career creating life-changing tech, Vu recommends the Bebras Challenge, a free CSIRO resource. It’s a race against time for primary school and high school students to think outside the box and develop skills that give you an edge beyond competency in science and maths.
You can also head to Bebras 365 to develop your skills. “Computational thinking skills give you a new perspective,” says Vu. “And it’s fun!”
– Eliza Brockwell
This profile is brought to you in partnership with the CSIRO.
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.