Daniel Williams, a third-year PhD student at The University of Melbourne, studies the intricate dynamics of trust between humans and swarms of robots. His research, situated within electrical engineering, intertwines with elements of social psychology, aiming to harness the collective capabilities of multiple robots, augmenting human potential.
Recently, Daniel received the ATSE LGBTQI+ scholarship sponsored by NCI Australia, facilitating his attendance at the 2023 New Fellows Showcase and the ATSE Awards Gala Dinner in Canberra. Supporting LGBTQI+ groups is NCI’s strategy to implement practices for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Reflecting on his experience, Daniel expressed how the events unveiled the broader context of engineering in Australia, showcasing its role in addressing critical challenges across diverse sectors, from water science to delivering drugs more effectively to patients.
For Daniel, the highlight was engaging with professionals across varied engineering fields and meeting the Board of Directors Chair of Robotics Australia Group, Dr Sue Kay, providing valuable insights into the trajectory of robotics in Australia. These encounters affirmed the significance of community within engineering and offered him a network of experts for future collaborations.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of his supportive supervisors in the success of his scholarship application, Daniel initially hesitated due to the ticket costs before discovering the LGBTQI+ grant opportunity aligned with his identity as part of the queer community. Drawing from his educational experiences and industry exposure, he crafted a compelling application highlighting Australia's engineering landscape and the need for innovation within the country rather than seeking resources abroad.
Receiving the scholarship marks a turning point in Daniel's personal and professional growth. The exposure to transition engineering research into practical applications broadened his informal network, which is essential for his plans of integrating swarm robotics into public domains. Meeting representatives from the Governor General's office emphasized the societal impact of engineering, inspiring Daniel to persevere despite the challenges ahead in his PhD journey.
Offering advice to future scholarship applicants, Daniel emphasizes self-reflection and leveraging support networks for crafting compelling applications. He encourages exploring ongoing programs like mentorship opportunities to harness collective expertise and advises highlighting diverse experiences in community service or extracurricular engineering projects to strengthen scholarship applications.
Daniel envisions a future in research and development, aspiring to remain in Australia and contribute to solving local challenges using robotics technology. He aims to connect with the growing network of professionals interested in integrating robotics into daily life, aspiring to continue his research journey.