Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sandy's Story - for Ada Lovelace Day
Guest Blogger: Annemieke Craig, Deakin University, Australia

As indicated in Barbara’s recent article we would like to celebrate ‘Ada Lovelace Day’ by publishing an article about a woman in technology. Sandy is the IT Manager for the Institute for Technology Research and Innovation at Deakin University in Australia.

To celebrate Ada Lovelace day we present Sandy’s story:

As the youngest of my 3 children approached school age, I began a short IT course to improve my job prospects. One week later, I found I was "unexpectedly expecting" baby number 4. I completed the course and my results were good, including 100% in a database exam 5 days before the birth of my baby, (helping to debunk the myth that pregnancy makes us vague) so I continued on with another certificate, a diploma and graduated with a degree at the ripe old age of 43.

I was only looking to work part time at first and began work straight away as the IT support for a small and friendly group of staff and postgraduate students in the School of Information Systems at Deakin's Geelong and Warrnambool campuses. I was then transferred to the Faculty IT group which had an emphasis on staff training. Then I increased my hours by working at the same time as IT support in the School of Engineering where I had invaluable support and encouragement from my supervisor/mentor in the School. Next I successfully applied for a full time position in the newly formed Centre for Material and Fibre Innovation. When the Centre combined with BioDeakin and Intelligent Systems Research to form the Institute for Technology Research and Innovation, I was promoted to IT Manager of the Institute where I've been for almost a year.

And what a great position this is! Every day is different and they fly by so quickly. I'm responsible for planning and management of IT support and advice, IT systems and administration for rapidly expanding numbers of ongoing and visiting staff and postgraduate students, maintenance of all computers in our labs, design and maintenance of websites, software licensing, management of leasing and purchase of computers and printers. I supervise a very capable IT technician who assists me. We look after the computers in the advanced cad lab, haptics lab, computers attached to a variety of microscopes, including the electron and atomic force microscopes and those attached to large industrial machines and delicate measuring equipment. We work closely with the other admin and technical staff in our area and other IT staff in the university. We work with interesting people in a multicultural working environment - our staff and students come from places such as China, India, Iran, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Japan......at last count we had people from 18 different countries. My job is to make sure they have all the IT resources they need to do their research in nanotechnology, biomaterials, composites, polymers, fibres, textiles, metals, computer modelling, haptics, robotics, cancer, diabeties, materials for solar panels, lightweight materials for automobiles and aeroplanes, biomaterials for bone replacements and more. It's worthwhile research that I'm proud to have a small part in.