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Aust scientist to head US research lab

AAP logoAAP 2/08/2016 Max Blenkin, AAP Defence Correspondent

An Australian defence scientist will head aerospace firm Lockheed Martin's new Melbourne research lab, the first such facility up outside the United States.

Dr Tony Lindsay, a specialist in electronic warfare, has worked in Australian defence science research for almost three decades, including a posting as defence's top science diplomat at the embassy in Washington.

As inaugural director of the new STELaR Lab - Science, Technology, Engineering Leadership and Research Laboratory - he'll be managing a variety of research programs including hypersonics, autonomy in robotics, quantum computing and communications and data analytics.

"Lockheed Martin's reputation for research and development is unparalleled and the decision to invest in Australia by establishing STELaR Lab has been enthusiastically welcomed by the local research community," he said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin plans to spend $13 million over the next three years to get the centre up and running.

It's been billed as an Aussie version of Lockheed's famous "Skunk Works" aeronautics research centre.

The company's chief technology officer, Dr Keoki Jackson, said as the centre grew it would start conducting sponsored and cooperative research with the Australian government.

"In the next three years, we expect to hire a little over 20 researchers, direct employees, in the lab. That will be supplemented by several PhD students," he told reporters in Canberra.

Lockheed's director of global science and technology engagement Karen Duneman said girls made up just 14 per cent of applicants to study in Australian undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics - referred to as STEM - courses. Less than half of those finished their degrees.

The US was doing only slightly better, she said.

"We intend to use STELaR Lab to continue our relationship with the National Youth Science Forum and look for opportunities to encourage young women to come into the STEM fields because it's fun and they can do it," she said.

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