The next generation of energy leaders will work to address Australia’s energy sector challenges through multidisciplinary research, supported by a new PhD scholarship program being launched in Melbourne on Wednesday, 4 March, the inaugural UNESCO-proclaimed World Engineering Day For Sustainable Development.
The program, established by Monash University and AEMO, with the support of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council, honours the legacy of former CEO of AEMO and Monash alumnus, the late Mr Matt Zema.
Under his leadership, gas and electricity markets and energy transmission grids, from far north Queensland to Tasmania and Western Australia, benefited from rigorous, wide-ranging analysis and forward-looking exploration of the challenge of transforming Australia’s national energy system.
Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC said: “We are facing unprecedented energy challenges that require greater collaboration and innovation than ever before.
“Together, we will further Mr Zema’s legacy of energy sector reform leadership through a scholarship program that connects outstanding PhD students with industry professionals to find innovative, interdisciplinary approaches and solutions to today’s energy problems,” she said.
The scholarship program’s ambition is to create a cohort of energy professionals equipped with the advanced knowledge and skills to ease Australia’s energy transition in the context of resource constraints, energy reforms, decentralisation and new digital capabilities.
Managing Director and CEO of AEMO Audrey Zibelman said: “As Australia’s energy sector continues to transform, it’s critical that we support and collaborate with the many bright minds working to solve our key energy challenges.
“This scholarship will honour Matt’s legacy as a pivotal leader in Australia’s energy sector, and will support AEMO’s purpose to shape a better energy future for all Australians,” she said.
The inaugural scholarship recipient, Lakshan Bernard from the Faculty of Engineering, said he was honoured to receive the Zema Energy Studies Scholarship, which will provide him the opportunity to expand his knowledge in electrical engineering and contribute to the future of emerging energy markets.
“I’m deeply grateful to have been selected as the inaugural scholarship recipient and am excited to commence my interdisciplinary research project,” he said.
Lakshan’s project will be co-supervised by Dr Reza Razzaghi from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering and Professor Rob Hyndman, Head of the Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics in the Monash Business School.
“Lakshan’s research will combine electrical engineering with advanced analytical and forecasting tools to solve significant challenges in future power networks, integrating renewable energy resources,” said Dr Reza Razzaghi.
The scholarship program launch coincides with the inaugural UNESCO-proclaimed World Engineering Day For Sustainable Development, a day designed to celebrate the important contributions of engineers and engineering to sustainable development and modern life.
Lakshan’s research exemplifies the critical role of engineering research in designing and developing the technical solutions needed to optimise our power networks and successfully integrate renewable energy sources into our existing grid systems.
Lakshan will receive an annual stipend of $35,000, supporting him for the duration of his PhD candidature.
“We look forward to growing Monash’s relationship with AEMO to create a fitting legacy for Mr Zema, while significantly investing in Australia’s most talented doctoral students across disciplines vital to the future of energy markets,” Professor Gardner added.