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International defence experience for university students

The University of South Australia and Saab Australia are working together to give Bachelor of Software Engineering students a head-start with their career.

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Geoff Stephens with Nicole Carter

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The university and Saab Australia developed an exchange and internship program where select students will travel to Sweden to study one semester at a partner university, followed by an internship with Saab, to gain international experience.

Final year UniSA student Nicole Carter was one of the inaugural three UniSA students to head to Sweden earlier this year – and return to Australia with offers for ongoing employment at Saab Australia in Adelaide. 

Nicole undertook an exchange semester at UniSA’s partner Swedish university, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, followed by a 5-week internship at Saab Sweden HQ in Järfälla.

“The three of us along with two Swedish interns from KTH formed a new software team within the Surveillance business unit,’’ she said.

“Our team’s focus was creating automated ‘smoke tests’ for one of Saab’s oldest products, and to visualise these in a web app that would be easy to understand for non-technical managers or customers.”

Nicole said that she learnt a lot from Saab’s modern approach to software development.

“Every three weeks we had demonstrations of our product to other people in the company. We got really good feedback which was encouraging,” she said.

Now back in Adelaide, she said she appreciated how useful the internship was for putting faces to names.

“The exchange was incredible. We are now working with the same team as we collaborated with while in Sweden.’’

Saab Australia Head of Discipline Software, Geoff Stephens said the internship program provides a hugely valuable orientation to the company’s working approach.

“Collaboration between both countries happens on a daily basis in our software teams so this was an excellent experience for the students to witness first hand,’’ Mr Stephens said.

“The students received very positive feedback from their internship supervisors in Sweden”, Mr Stephens said.

“All three Australian students have been successful in gaining positions on our graduate program on completion of their studies and two [including Nicole] have already commenced with Saab on a casual basis.’’

The exchange and internship package builds on a strong relationship between UniSA and Saab.

UniSA Head of the School of Information Technology and Mathematical Science Prof Brenton Dansie said that UniSA and Saab “have formed a strong strategic alliance through the creation of the Defence Technologies Institute (DTI)”.

“Providing opportunities for students to develop the skills required for future defence projects in South Australia is also a key priority for the DTI. The international exchange and internship package with KTH and Saab Sweden is an excellent outcome of this commitment to the future,’’ he said.

The exchange package is mirrored at Sweden’s end. Students from KTH in Stockholm come to Adelaide each year for an exchange semester at UniSA, followed by the internship at Saab Australia’s headquarters, based in Technology Park, nearby the university campus.

“We are thrilled to have been able to establish this as a reciprocal package,” Prof Dansie said.

“We welcomed our first KTH student to UniSA this semester, and she will head to Saab for her internship over the Australian summer.’’