South Australia’s Flinders University has partnered with SEA 5000 contender BAE Systems, and will see its students working with industry to develop new ways to deliver evolving capability for training Australia’s shipbuilding workforce of the future.
Under the arrangement, which will come into effect if BAE Systems wins the $35 billion Future Frigates contract, Flinders University will receive access to BAE Systems’ digital shipbuilding tools, processes and methodologies and turn these into development programs to train the people who will build the Future Frigates and integrate the ships’ complex operating systems.
Collaboration in research and development will have an emphasis on autonomous underwater vehicles, a future technology that could greatly enhance Australia’s capability to detect and deter submarines.
In the UK, BAE Systems already collaborates with Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which directly supports automation and the exchange of advanced manufacturing technologies.
Under this agreement, Flinders University and Sheffield University will be able to share information and best practice on successful training applications, research and development, and identify areas of mutual interest.
The first project under this agreement will be focused on advanced manufacturing components for the Joint Strike Fighter, which will help to inform future applications on other defence programs.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said this partnership will bring global expertise to Australian projects.
"Complex defence projects rely on highly-skilled people and world-class innovation. I am delighted that we can bring our capabilities and global expertise to the table so that we can work more closely with one of Australia’s leading academic institutions to nurture a highly skilled workforce that is ready to deliver the high-tech, complex programs our defence forces require," Costigan said.
Flinders University vice-chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said the partnership with BAE Systems will allow Flinders University students to work on important collaborative research initiatives
"Flinders University welcomes this important connection with BAE Systems," Professor Stirling said.
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"The opportunity to work with leading international partners is aligned with Flinders’ strategic priorities and we look forward to working collaboratively on research and training initiatives that are supporting Australia’s advanced manufacturing industry, furthering research and contributing to employment and economic growth."
The collaboration between BAE Systems and Flinders University will also contribute to the aims of the government's Naval Shipbuilding College, which is charged with working with industry and all academic institutions to support the national shipbuilding endeavour by skilling up a local workforce.
BAE Systems is one of three companies bidding to build nine anti-submarine warships for the Royal Australian Navy. The company is proposing an Australian variant of the Global Combat Ship currently being manufactured in the UK for the Royal Navy.
Italy's Fincantieri and Spain's Navantia are also bidding for the SEA 5000 project.