Veena Sahajwalla

Veena Sahajwalla was named one of Australia’s 100 most influential engineers as well as one of Australia’s most innovative engineers by Engineers Australia 2015 and 2016 respectively. She is Professor of Materials Science in the Faculty of Science at UNSW Australia and also the Director of the UNSW SM@RT Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology and an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow. She also runs a mentoring program for women in science called Science 50:50 with the Australian Research Council which aims to inspire Australian women to pursue degrees and careers in science and technology. In 2022 Veena was recognised as the NSW Australian of the Year.

Before we share what this trailblazer has achieved – and boy, has she achieved- a little about Veena’s motivation :

Born in Mumbai, India, Veena saw first hand the piles of waste and the “pickers” who went through it on a daily basis looking for something reusable. This sparked her interest in saving waste from landfill.

She was one of a handful of women in India to study Engineering and gained a Material Science doctorate from the United States before relocating to Australia and is known internationally as the Inventor of ‘green steel’.  Essentially that means that recycled truck tires are a sustainable alternative to using coal as an environmentally friendly process that could prevent over 2 million tires from being diverted to landfills each year while simultaneously creating a renewable energy source. Tires can be ground into pellets and be used instead of coal as they release fewer greenhouse gases.

She also launched the first e-waste microfactory, which processes metal alloys from old laptops, circuit boards and smartphones in 2020. At the height of the pandemic, Professor Sahajwalla’s team turned the plastics from old printers into face shields for health workers at Port Macquarie Hospital. Her most recent success has been using old beer bottles and ageing mattresses, breaking them down and turning them into ceramic tiles for use in buildings.

What a woman!

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.
#AtoZChallenge

Ann Moffatt (1939 – )

Ann was born in England without an entitled childhood, having worked part time from an early age to assist with household finances. An accident which fractured her skull crushed her dreams of studying for a maths degree, and she filled in the days by reading books about computers. With her aptitude for maths and ability to learn on-the-job, Ann became one of the UK’s first female computer programmers, and was soon recognised as a leading authority on software development and the emerging field of database management.

Her first pregnancy prompted the company for which she was working to pioneer teleworking. That is, retaining women in the IT industry by allowing them to work from home whilst caring for their children, ultimately proving more productive than in-house.

In 1974 she came to Australia as a “sponsored expert” after being headhunted to work on the biggest computer implementation in the country (IBM), later moving onto positions as Director of the Institute of Information Technology and National Development Manager for the Australian Stock Exchange.

Moffatt’s professional experience includes as a programmer, analyst, designer, project manager, company and manager, and she has served on several company Boards, as well as establishing and managing her own ICT service.

Over the years Ann has received many accolades. She is a Fellow of both the Australian Computer Society and the British Computer Society. She was a Board Member of the NSW TAFE Commission from 1998 to 2000 and a Board member of the IT&T ITAB from 1999 to 2000. She was also a member of the Wide Bay Institute of TAFE Council & the Hervey Bay TAFE College Council from 2001 to 2005. From 1998-2010, she was a Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation, which advances IT through Education and Research.

In 2002, Ann was inducted into the Australian ICT Hall of Fame as the first female inductee. In 2005 USQ awarded Ann an Honorary Doctorate, which was conferred in May 2006. In 2011, Ann was inducted into the Pearcey Hall of Fame, which is the highest Australian professional award for a lifetime achievement in the ICT industries.

In May 2014 Microsoft listed Ann as one of 10 Australian Innovators, and in 2015, Ann established the Silicon Coast Extracurricular Code School (SCXCS) to teach students in Regional and Rural Australia how to program. In March 2016 Ann was named as one of Advance Queensland’s Community Digital Champions.

She remains active in the organisation she co-founded in 1990, FFIT, or Females in IT and Telecommunications, which now grown to more than 4,000 members.

During retirement she also found time to write a book, an inspirational read about her life and career challenges, and about working alongside the men who both adored her and abhorred her. It is a beaut read.

Celebrating the women from our past to the present who have helped shape Australia.
#AtoZChallenge

Here’s To The STEMinistas

Some of you may be aware that I have an interest in promoting STEM possibilities amongst women, STEM as in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This recent interest more than likely springs from the fact that I hail from a long line of people who are unable to change a light bulb, had to be bribed to be encouraged to pass a maths test ( and did actually bribe a high school teacher for a decent result) and have a terminal dislike for Engineers. (That’s a long messy story for another time). I figure it’s about time I learnt how to put a new battery in the remote control.

Indeed, I plan on presenting some of my countries female STEM success stories, as well as other women trailblazers, in a series for the coming A-Z Blogging Challenge. Recognising and acknowledging our outstanding achievers does not come naturally to Australians unless the success story involves a sportsperson. We tend to put down others for their success and achievements, which is a phenomenon known as the tall poppy syndrome. It is best summed up as “cutting a person down to size.”

Not impressive, right?

So it was fun to discover that one of the newest genres in literature is STEMinist Romance Novels which celebrates female heroines wearing long, white coats and carrying a theodolite instead of a Hermes handbag. Or working on C.A.D software instead of their fingernails. It’s all about promoting the “nerds” via a little lovin’. When it all heats up over a bunsen burner and a chemical reaction is when sugar turns to caramel. You know, these heroines : the ones that find cures for incurable diseases, develop new products that are environmentally sustainable, and offer alternative solutions to world wide problems.

Off to the Library to investigate the bookshelves. Here’s to all the STEMinistas.

Book of the Week, and a contender for Book of the Year.

Cover shows author working from home writing programs to analyse the Concorde’ black-box recorder

Ann Moffatt was born in England in 1939 without an entitled childhood, having worked part time from an early age to assist with household finances. An accident which fractured her skull crushed her dreams of studying for a maths degree, and she filled in the days by reading books about computers. With her aptitude for maths and ability to learn on-the-job, Ann became one of the UK’s first female computer programmers, and was soon recognised as a leading authority on software development and the emerging field of database management.

Her first pregnancy prompted the company for which she was working to pioneer teleworking. That is, retaining women in the IT industry by allowing them to work from home whilst caring for their children, ultimately proving more productive than in-house.

In 1974 she came to Australia as a “sponsored expert” after being headhunted to work on the biggest computer implementation in the country (IBM), later moving on to roles including Director of the Institute of Information Technology and National Development Manager for the Australian Stock Exchange.

Moffatt’s professional experience includes as a programmer, analyst, designer, project manager, company and manager, as well as establishing and managing her own ICT service.

Over the years Ann has received many accolades. She is a Fellow of both the Australian Computer Society and the British Computer Society. She was a Board Member of the NSW TAFE Commission from 1998 to 2000 and a Board member of the IT&T ITAB from 1999 to 2000. She was also a member of the Wide Bay Institute of TAFE Council & the Hervey Bay TAFE College Council from 2001 to 2005. From 1998-2010, she was a Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation, which advances IT through Education and Research.

In 2002, Ann was inducted into the Australian ICT Hall of Fame as the first female inductee. In 2005 USQ awarded Ann an Honorary Doctorate, which was conferred in May 2006. In 2011, Ann was inducted into the Pearcey Hall of Fame, which is the highest Australian professional award for a lifetime achievement in the ICT industries.


In May 2014 Microsoft listed Ann as one of 10 Australian Innovators, and in 2015 during her retirement, Ann established the Silicon Coast Extracurricular Code School (SCXCS) to teach students in Regional and Rural Australia how to program. In March 2016 Ann was named as one of Advance Queensland’s Community Digital Champions.

She remains active in the organisation she co-founded in 1990, FFIT, or Females in IT and Telecommunications, which has grown to more than 4,000 members.

During retirement she also found time to write this book, a fascinating read about her life and career challenges, and working alongside men who both adored her and abhorred her.

Here is a quote from a male colleague that Ann took to an Equal Opportunity Seminar sponsored by her employer in the mid 1980’s. You will either laugh or cry.


Well, it doesn’t work for me. At least my wife is female.She sits by the pool getting brown and plays tennis most days. She is there for me looking beautiful when I get home from work and when it’s time for bed she is ready for sex”.


494 pages in length and despite still being totally clueless about what computer coding is, or even does, this is an inspirational look at a life well lived.

Another Project or Who Said There Was Nothing To Do In Retirement ?

One of the projects I’ve undertaken recently came to mind during Lockdown. I’de been reading a lot, particularly on social media, about the wonderful deeds of women in the past, particularly women from overseas. The Americans and the English seem to honour and celebrate the achievements of both their men and women whereas we Australians tend to be a little too “laid back”.

My friend Bernadette studied History at University. I opted for Geography and mostly courtesy of those great movies and television series during the 1960’s. Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan was all I needed to pass exams about the Amazon and John Wayne movies filmed in Monument Valley also contributed greatly to my success in the subject.

Together we thought we should highlight our Aussie women, past and present, who have done so much to change our landscape. Today, after four days of continual rain I am thankful for Myra Juliet Farrell (1878 – 1957) who came up with the idea for an indoor folding clothesline.

We would love you to join us here:

Trailblazing Women Of Australia at

https://trailblazingwomenofaustralia.wordpress.com/blog/

No femminazi here’s a photo of the most important young men in my life.

Harry Kilom and Bentley

Bub’s Books For Xmas

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Albert Einstein

My daughter, Pocohontas, has already read six week old Harry Kilometres this years Booker Prize Winner. So of course I have been having great fun at local bookstores finding more appropriate literature for the child for Christmas.

This is Harry’s major Christmas parcel from his Meemaw:

I’m a firm believer that you cannot begin your Classic Movie education too early.

Aunt Cat Balou is gifting a copy of the movie Calamity Jane and a book about Audrey Hepburn. (Have I done well with my kids, or what!)

“You don’t have enough money to be considered eccentric. You’re just weird.” – my friend, Bernadette Mercer.

This one’s going into the babe’s Christmas stocking :

Harry’s Dad, a military boyo, has also been reading to young Harry : books on international conflict and aviation strategy.

And they think I’m weird…………..

NOTE :

Discovered a great website which encourages young girls to follow their interest in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. Go to http://www.amightygirl.com

For fairy tales starring clever and courageous girls, you can find over 180 girl-empowering books of fairy tales in A Mighty Girl’s “Fairy Tale Collection” at https://www.amightygirl.com/books/fiction/fairy-tales-folktales

If you’re looking for princess stories that break the ‘damsel in distress’ mold, A Mighty Girl’s “Ultimate Guide to the Independent Princess” collection features 100 books starring princesses who are smart, daring, and aren’t waiting around to be rescued at https://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-girl-picks/independent-princess

I’ll share these purchases soon with no guilt. Helping both the economy and the sisterhood.

Two Over Achievers

Never heard of Florence Violet McKenzie, affectionately known as Mrs Mac or Violet? Well neither had I until reading Radio Girl by David Duffy.

You know how there is this current movement to encourage girls into S.T.E.M subjects at school – read: Science, Maths, Engineering and Technology-then this is one fascinating read about a woman born in 1890 well before her time.

The list of some of her achievements include :
⁃ First female Electrical Engineer in Australia
⁃ With the money made as an entrepreneur selling radios she established her own Signalling School for women in Sydney
⁃ Wrote a bestselling cookbook explaining how to cook with an electric stove – because it had been all wood stoves ( get your head around that!)
⁃ A Presenter for the ABC in its first year of existence
⁃ Persuaded the Australian Navy to set up the WRANS
⁃ First woman in NSW branch of Wireless of Institute of Australia
⁃ Started an amateur Radio Club
⁃ Organised the second ever World Wireless Exhibition held in Australia
⁃ Started the Wireless Weekly magazine which has since become Electronics Australia
⁃ Opened her own Radio College to educate women in radio related technical skills to assist with tasks during WW2
⁃ Trained women to serve in the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps who then went on to train as Morse Code Instructors, who themselves trained men in the Navy.

OMG! I look back at all of the screaming matches over the dinner table because the entire concept of long division and fractions escaped me. And don’t talk to me about Trigonometry. What a wasted year of my life and so many tears. My youngest daughter, on the other hand, has an agenda of quietly pushing her friend’s daughters down the STEM route and routinely gifts tractors, hi vis jackets and lab kits.

#mathssux#sciencesux#stemmakesmecry.

PAYNE VC by Mike Coleman

Every Australian over a certain age would have heard the name Keith Payne, the most decorated Aussie that served in the Vietnam War. Well into his eighties now ( he served in Korea also) this is an interesting read that tells the story of a country kid that grew up in Far North Queensland shooting bunnies to help put food on the table and went on to become a leader of men.

I enjoyed learning about the support Payne received from his wife and five sons, and the impact that war – and the Victoria Cross – had on this soldiers family.

He came home troubled in the days before the term PTDS was even coined, but fought his demons and won, later to become an advocate for veterans requiring support.

Keith Payne is still visible on special occasions such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day and is a regular speaker at school and RSL functions. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star.

Without being disrespectful I truly think the wives of these men could do with an award of some sort in recognition of the work they do in the background……….