Q&A Feb 4, 2024

Protecting Our Way of Life: A Q&A with André Agnew

In this Q&A, meet André Agnew, an Australian engineer who recently played a key role in the establishment of an important high-frequency radar research center at the University of Adelaide.

Q&A with André Agnew Jacobs Data Manager and Engineer

Since joining Jacobs as a graduate engineer in 2001, André has applied his engineering and project management prowess to a range of Australian national security projects over the past two decades including the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, AP-3C Orion, KC-30 Air-to-Air Refueller, Air Warfare Destroyer and the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN).

Hi, André. Can you tell us how the work you do is helping solve our clients’ biggest challenges?

I am currently supporting the Australian Department of Defence (Defence) as a data manager in the Wide Area and Space Surveillance Systems Program Office, and recently helped to establish the Centre for Advanced Defence Research (CADR) in High Frequency Technologies (HFT) at the University of Adelaide, as part of the JORN Joint Open Innovation Network (JOIN).

The CADR-HFT opened on October 4 and is a collaboration between Defence, BAE Systems Australia, and the University of Adelaide to promote and facilitate advanced research in HFT. The main role of the center is to develop a highly specialized workforce to strengthen Australia’s world-leading capability in high-frequency systems and over-the-horizon-radar – Australia’s JORN. The research conducted at the center will also play a critical role in contributing to Australia’s ongoing safety and prosperity.

I represented Defence during the JOIN mobilization phase, which established the framework for creating the CADR-HFT. I was the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group [the Defence organization responsible for the acquisition and sustainment of military equipment] representative on the management committee, working with members of the Defence Science and Technology Group, BAE Systems Australia and the University of Adelaide to create the Memorandum of Understanding between the parties, design the center’s framework, and obtain approvals from the leaders of each organization.

Why is high frequency radar research important to Defence and the nation?

JORN is a world-leading, truly sovereign, Australian Defence asset that provides wide area surveillance of the country’s northern approaches and plays a vital role supporting the Australian Defence Force’s air and maritime operations, border protection, disaster relief, and search and rescue operations. Monitoring Australia’s northern approaches supports Australia's national security efforts and thus helps protect our way of life.

The JOIN brings together Defence, industry and academia, and the CADR-HFT will develop academic programs, attract new students, and help sustain a highly skilled workforce in the field of HFT. The CADR-HFT will also create an environment in which Defence and industry can encourage innovation and invest in novel HFT to maintain Australian dominance in HF radar and other HF capabilities.

“Monitoring Australia’s northern approaches supports Australia's national security efforts and thus protects our way of life.”

André Agnew

Jacobs Data Manager and Engineer

What would you say to young people considering a career in STEAM?

STEAM allows for the betterment of society and the planet – real solutions to real problems. You will be challenged and rewarded on a daily basis. Experienced professionals will always be willing and able to mentor you throughout your career.

STEAM requires both creative minds and minds that can think logically and methodically; needless to say, a hybrid of both is ideal, but not essential. Career progression is as diverse as you wish. With most skills being transferrable, you are guaranteed to undertake a wide variety of roles throughout your career, unless you wish otherwise.

About the interviewee

Andre Agnew

Born in Germany, André moved to Australia in 1983 and joined Jacobs as a graduate engineer in 2001.  He is also a professional photographer with a keen interest in using film for personal projects – particularly super-sized A4 Polaroids using a 19th century style camera. A dog lover and solar car enthusiast, André did his university thesis on “Occupant Comfort and Vehicle Cooling” and has taken part in a number of Bridgestone World Solar Challenge events (a solar car race from Darwin to Adelaide) both as a team member and official.

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