Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing

"Our (placement) students learn how to communicate complex research topics, and we benefit from being able to bring our research outputs to a broader audience."

Christopher Fluke, Associate Professor

Chris Fluke, Associate Professor, Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing

Christopher Fluke from the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing explains how placement students have helped his organisation to share their research with a wider audience.

As a long-time Swinburne employee, I’m very aware of the tremendous opportunities available to our students through work placements. Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing has a long history of placing students, since our first in 2003.

The Centre has a mission to “inspire a fascination in the Universe through research and education”. One of the main ways we connect with the public is through our extensive program of outreach, supported with high-quality and highly realistic animations.

Through the placements program we’ve been able to identify and work with talented and motivated students with a variety of skills in animation, story-telling and CGI production. Previous placement students have worked on 3D stereoscopic movies for use in our AstroTour schools program, and on multimedia content to support our research-related media releases. Our students learn how to communicate complex research topics, and we benefit from being able to bring our research outputs to a broader audience.

One of the many advantages of employing professional placement students is our access to emerging talent. Students on placement are able to apply newly acquired skills and knowledge while reflecting critically on their own professional and personal development.

As researchers, we know how rapidly technology and ideas change. It’s hard for us to also be across the trends in animation and online story-telling. It's rewarding to see a student make the connections between the concepts and content they have learnt during their degree and put this to practical use through a real-world implementation, complete with deadlines and budgets.

Students bring new ideas and approaches to existing problems and as a placement supervisor, I'm hoping to learn from them. At the same time, I want to support and encourage them to rapidly acquire new skills and take risks. One example of this was sending one of our placement students interstate to talk to a potential client on our behalf.

Students are looking for opportunities and experiences that will give them the edge, which is great for businesses. I would highly recommend the placements program to other organisations. We were so impressed with our very first professional placement student that we employed him as our lead animator for the next ten years.