In 2015, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) Fellow and Director, Professor Paul Wood AO FTSE, had an idea.
Professor Wood wanted to strengthen ties and increase collaborations between Australia’s industry and academic sectors, and he knew people were the key. He asked himself, “What if we had 500 PhD students mentored by industry leaders every year?” In answering this question, he quickly developed a vision, and an unwavering commitment and passion.
Reaching out to friends, family and colleagues in Industry to help support his idea – a pilot mentoring program. Professor Wood called it the “Industry Mentoring Network in STEM” – now widely-known as IMNIS.
Together these cofounding volunteers held three successful IMNIS pilots in medical technologies, mining and energy between 2015-16; one each in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. A survey of the participating industry leaders and PhD students demonstrated success!
In 2016, IMNIS launched and was recognised early for its impact with a B/HERT Best Higher Education and Training Collaboration Award. Supported by cofounders, Paul Wood, Tony Radford, Ronnie Wood and John Kirby, ATSE then received funding from the industry growth centre, MTPConnect to deliver, scale and further develop IMNIS nationally.
IMNIS has grown from an idea, into a high profile suite of programs across Australia.
IMNIS Engage provides PhD students and postdoctoral fellows a one-year program that includes industry mentoring, professional development, events and networking. Engage now has 1,700 alumni from all STEM disciplines. Another 400 mentees from more than 50 affiliated research organisations are participating this year. IMNIS also has more than 750 industry leaders who generously volunteer as mentors.
The two alumni programs include IMNIS Ignite, which offers real-world industry experience via internships, and IMNIS Catalyst; an Ambassador program that provides media and communications training to enable alumni engagement in ATSE’s programs, policy, events and communications.
Professor Wood’s commitment to fostering careers and opportunities for emerging leaders in STEM, and the increasingly important role of IMNIS in connecting and nurturing the STEM ecosystem, was acknowledged recently when he won the Eureka prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers.
Often referred to as the “Academy Awards of Science”, the Australian Museum’s prestigious Eureka Prizes prizes place Australian science front and centre on a glittering stage. Sponsored prizes celebrate the achievements and impact of outstanding research scientists, citizen science projects, inspiring mentors and leaders, science communicators and the next generation of rising stars.
ATSE congratulates Professor Wood and all of the IMNIS Foundation donors on this much-deserved recognition.