Future Ready Land Force: Supporting Army’s vision to anticipate and solve the operational challenges of tomorrow
This perpetual oscillation between conventional and asymmetric warfare presents technical and operational challenges to operators that requires mental agility, lateral thinking and an understanding of how new technologies can be applied in the battlefield to enable victory.
Launched in 2021, Army’s MakerSpace program has sought to equip soldiers with the technical and creative skills to anticipate and solve the challenges that future warfare scenarios may require.
With the stated aim to “…improve the cognitive ability of Army Personnel through creativity and non-traditional ways of thinking, coupled with the delivery of ‘Maker skills’ within the MakerSpace site/facility,” MakerSpaces are equipped to enable experimentation and creativity by users, with equipment including:
- CNC Laser cutter & engravers
- 3D printing
- CAD and Design work areas
- Wood and Metal work areas
- CNC routers
- Electronics (e.g., Arduino, raspberry pi)
- Vinyl printing.
With seven MakerSpaces located at Army barracks across Australia, the MakerSpace program has gone from strength to strength, providing both technical and non-technical soldiers of all ranks with engineering equipment, industry-experienced mentors and professional training to develop their technical and creative problem-solving skills.
In addition to hosting technical workshops, MakerSpaces also facilitate design sprints, where soldiers are presented with a challenge and have a limited timeframe to design a solution.
One such design sprint challenge posed the following question: “What tracking capability can 7 Brigade use to further enhance the warfighter’s technical and tactical advantage?” To this challenge, one of the five groups created a working prototype of a bullet expenditure tracking system, seeking to enhance operators’ situational awareness and increase the efficiency of small arms maintenance scheduling.
Since the program’s inception, QinetiQ has been proud to work collaboratively with Army’s Robotic & Autonomous Systems Implementation & Coordination Office (RICO) to understand Army’s objectives, design the innovative engineering spaces, and operate all seven MakerSpaces across the country, providing deep technical expertise and mentorship to their local community of makers.
To date, a total of over 10,000 sign-ins have been clocked at MakerSpace facilities across the country, a figure made even more impressive by the fact that the latest MakerSpace only launched as recently as December 2022.
Following the recent contract extension, Army will continue to leverage QinetiQ’s deep technical expertise in the design, development and delivery of engineering programs and services, in support of Army’s Future Ready Land Force priorities.
Falling under QinetiQ’s broader Research & Development Program within the Engineering Services portfolio, QinetiQ’s support for the MakerSpace program is underpinned by deep scientific and technical expertise, and draws upon extensive experience gained through decades of support to industry, academia and Defence customers.
Working collaboratively with customers, we leverage our world-leading research expertise and local engineering know-how to deliver high-impact, cutting-edge facility designs and provide unrivalled service to our customers, building innovative engineering hubs that drive learning, research and commercial growth.
As part of our ongoing commitment to building technical workforce capability within Australia, we continue to invest in programs, partnerships and facilities that equip the next generation with the critical engineering skills and expertise Australia needs.
Our comprehensive approach to investing in Australia’s future workforce capabilities, includes:
- Upskilling programs such as our Test & Evaluation Sovereign Skills Program (TESSP) to meet the future Capability Assurance needs of the ADF;
- Early Careers programs including trade apprenticeships hosted by both QinetiQ and QinetiQ Air Affairs in Nowra, and our award-winning 18-month Graduate Development Program;
- Engineering design and prototyping capabilities through QinetiQ’s Technology & Engineering Centre (QTEC) in Port Melbourne;
- Designing and operating the Creator Space accessible fabrication lab at University of Melbourne, fostering skills development and industry-readiness through training, coaching and supervision of tertiary engineering students;
- Our sponsorship of a range of Indigenous training initiatives as outlined in our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, including the Victorian Indigenous Engineering
- Winter School (VIEWS) and the AFL SportsReady Indigenous Traineeship program.
As geopolitical events continue to destabilise the Indo-Pacific, QinetiQ is proud to work alongside our customers to realise their vision and build Australia’s future technical workforce capabilities.
Working alongside Army on the MakerSpace program, we’re proud to support Army’s vision to enable a Future Ready Land Force capable of anticipating and solving the technical and operational challenges of tomorrow, ensuring operators are equipped with the technical and creative problem-solving skills to overcome emerging threats on any battlefield.
For more information about Army’s MakerSpace program, visit: https://researchcentre.army.gov.au/rico/makerspace-program.