Australian Defence Force personnel, Defence Science Technology Group (DSTG), Trusted Autonomous Systems and key industry consultants joined forces in April for the inaugural defence design workshop hosted by the Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA).
According to QDSA Director Professor Cara Wrigley, this landmark forum represented a significant milestone for Queensland’s Defence sector spanning Government, industry and academia.
“This workshop is the first of its kind and is incredibly exciting for Queensland on many levels,” Professor Wrigley said.
“Not only are we using an innovative design framework to articulate the challenges experienced on the ground we are also creating a never-before-seen eco-system. One that is agile, engages Queensland businesses, Defence industry, along with science and research institutions to create more local opportunities and ultimately enhance our nation’s capability and sovereignty,” she said.
It is hoped that working this way will ensure the right problems are being solved, that innovation is fast tracked, and to accelerate sovereign capabilities against adversaries.
“The people in the room have been handpicked and represent all three services of the Australian Defence Force (Army, Navy and Air Force along with DSTG) which is an entirely new approach,” Professor Wrigley said.
“We have a very clear objective from this workshop to formulate a design brief that serves the needs of all three services, not just one – and create an environment to help accelerate Defence solutions. This is not an easy task with such diversity of applications involved.
“That’s what is both rare and enormously exciting about this process and QDSA’s role into the future,” she said.
For key stakeholders involved in the workshop, the design-first approach has presented an alternative method of exploring as many innovative ideas as possible in a short space of time.
According to Plan Jericho Wing Commander, Paul “Humpy” Hay: “Defence is good at coming up with solutions, but where we can focus more effort is that design thinking to help us better understand the problem or the questions that we’re trying to answer.
“This, in turn, will provide a more effective outcome for the Australian Defence Force,” he said.
Alex Wall from DesignWorks, the design contractor leading this project, said it was mind blowing to have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with defence personnel at the outset.
“The key point for us is that the end users are in the workshop because we can ask them questions directly and get feedback in real-time. We’re expecting this will lead to massive shifts in how the project flows as we cut down any back and forth and don’t have to make assumptions anymore,” Mr Wall said.
“This means we are better equipped to design and build the right technology that will make a real difference helping protect our people, rather than just responding to a tender,” he said.
Following the workshop, DesignWorks will undertake an intensive 10-week design and testing phase.
While this workshop and the resulting discussions might provide an opportunity to change the battlespace in Australia’s favour – its participants are also eager to see the collaboration and impact created by the newly established QDSA.
“We’re excited that Queensland is now represented on the national stage through QDSA and is driving collaboration with defence and academic institutions to provide outcomes for defence,” Mr Hay said.
DesignWorks acknowledged that this new alliance should only lead to more defence-related activity happening in Queensland.
“There are so many businesses doing great things in Queensland – and we expect that will only increase with the launch of QDSA,” Mr Wall said.
Established in 2021, the Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA) is a university-led initiative committed to creating an agile ecosystem that enhances Queensland’s capability pipeline to rapidly translate ideas into reality within the Defence enterprise.
Bringing together the sharpest multi-disciplinary minds across seven leading Queensland Universities, industry partners, government and Defence, the QDSA focusses on sovereign collaboration and innovation to accelerate Defence’s capability edge.