From the (new) Director

What a privilege it is to write this first column for NYSF Outlook as the new Director, just as selections for the 2014 January Sessions are completed and we begin our run into the next round of NYSF programs.

I have had the opportunity to work closely with Geoff Burchfield, the Council, our Partners, and our colleagues here in the NYSF Corporate Team offices for the past several years, initially focusing on leadership and educational priorities, and then moving on to addressing change management to reflect the growth in the NYSF and its programs.

I live in Canberra with my wife, Rebecca, and I come to the NYSF Director’s position mainly from a background of vocational and professional education, after spending a number of years working within military and law enforcement maintenance engineering. While the link to this role at NYSF may not seem obvious, it is my candidature to become a Doctor of Education at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) where I am exploring the relationship between self-directed learning, critical thinking and contemporary professional practice, that has led me here. Putting it another way, I am interested in optimal ways to develop the capacity of being able to ‘learn to learn’ within vocations.

Taking up the baton from Geoff Burchfield has caused me to reflect on the significant contribution that he has made to the NYSF over the past nine years

Taking up the baton from Geoff Burchfield has caused me to reflect on the significant contribution that he has made to the NYSF over the past nine years. His passion for and focus on supporting motivated young people so that they want to continue their involvement in science, technology and engineering has not wavered over his time in the Director’s role, and we can all thank him for that. Geoff’s particular and unique insights have shown that he knows instinctively what makes a good program – hunting down the interesting speakers, riding the wave of what’s hot in the science world, and formulating a well-rounded program for each year’s participants. Therefore, I am delighted to report that we are not losing Geoff all together, as he has agreed to stay on as our Program advisor into the foreseeable future.  I thank him too for this ongoing commitment, and look forward to continuing our professional relationship.

In other changes, I want to thank Professor Hans Bachor for his substantial involvement in NYSF.  Professor Bachor resigned from his position as Chair of the Council in June. A warm thanks is extended to Hans along with our best wishes for his future endeavors.

At the AGM last week, Dr Craig Cormick was appointed as the new Chair of the Council. Craig is a science communicator and author who has presented to the NYSF January Sessions over many years, and is certainly well informed about NYSF and its operations.  I look forward to working closely with in the coming months.

As I see it, my biggest challenge as the NYSF Director into the future is to manage the expectations of all of our stakeholders and partners with a focus on ensuring the longevity of the NYSF.  We will all be working hard to maintain those vital relationships with existing partners, as well as identifying new partners whose support will be essential in the years ahead.

Speaking of the future, as I noted above, we are delighted that all Selections for students to attend the 2014 January Sessions in Canberra and Perth have been finalised, and Orientation Sessions have begun across Australia. You can read more about this and other developments in our programs further in this newsletter – there is much to report.

Congratulations to the 432 new members of the NYSF community. We look forward to building our united futures, and to seeing you all in January!

Damien Pearce
September 2013