Saab Australia/UniSA launch new Institute for Defence Technologies

Saab Australia and the University of South Australia – UniSA – have partnered to establish a new ‘Saab Australia-UniSA Institute for Defence Technologies’.

Saab Australia will invest up to $40 million for a purpose-built new wing of their Mawson Lakes headquarters, collaborating with UniSA to create the new facility.

The Institute for Defence Technologies will educate and train the workforce required to deliver future defence-industry projects during the next 20 to 30 years.

Students will learn technology-based skills, matched with practical experience on cutting-edge defence technology at Saab.

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne welcomed the initiative and was on hand today to witness the signing of an establishing Memorandum of Understanding.

“Saab Australia and UniSA have formalised a long-term relationship with the establishment of the new institute,” Mr Pyne said.

“The Defence Institute will develop a source of sustainable science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates by immersing them in real-world problems and situations to bring academia into the heart of industry.

“Significant Defence projects, such as the replacements for the Collins-class submarines that will be delivered in the coming years, necessitate an increase in skilled people, especially in STEM subjects.

“This will also build on our indigenous defence capability and provide a developing workforce for future export contracts.

“The institute will also provide opportunities for smaller companies in the defence supply chain to participate in industry-based activities, contribute to science projects and access a pool of well-prepared staff to up-skill their own.”

Managing Director Saab Australia Dean Rosenfield said the significant defence-industry projects planned for the next 20 to 30 years in Australia would require a new level of people with specialist skills in systems engineering.

“It is forecast that the need for additional personnel with the right education and training will be in excess of 5000, and about 20 per cent of those will need to be university qualified,” Mr Rosenfield said.

“This partnership ensures academia is in the heart of industry. Students will learn the technological skills, the industry demands and through the practical experience element, know how to deliver projects effectively.

“We have had a long and productive association with UniSA. This new partnership will give South Australia and Saab the edge in building defence-industry capacity, delivering world-class solutions for future key projects.”

Mr Rosenfield said the institute would have broad scope and include engineering and IT, with a particular focus on critical areas at the heart of what Saab delivers – augmented reality, autonomous systems, cybersecurity and complex systems engineering.

UniSA Vice Chancellor David Lloyd said the new institute would address not only Saab skills and education needs, but also provide opportunities for smaller companies in the defence supply chain, giving them access to new generations of well-prepared graduates and the chance to upskill existing staff.

“This initiative is a fine example of how universities and industry can work together to deliver future growth for South Australia,” Professor Lloyd said.

“Students studying engineering, IT and a variety of other STEM-based degree programs will have the opportunity to undertake real-world projects at Saab or other companies, and high-performing students will be offered longer internships.

“We will be co-creating curriculum and teaching materials with Saab, ensuring they reflect current industry requirements and, at the postgraduate level, we will work with Saab to redevelop our Masters in Military Systems Integration to maintain the deep relevance of the program.

“In addition, the partnership will provide opportunities for joint research work, opening up new areas for PhD research, supporting additional innovation.

“This enterprising partnership between the university and Saab gives South Australia every opportunity to meet the challenge of growth in defence industries by delivering generations of highly skilled industry professionals.

“It will firmly establish our world-leading credentials.”

Minister Pyne said Defence welcomed the opportunity to work with the new Institute for Defence Technologies to optimise investment in Defence research and innovation and maximise the complementary value of respective STEM-student development programs.

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