As a 29 year old, astronomical engineer Julia Hu moved from her home-town of Nanjing (Eastern China) to live with the kangaroos on the top of Mt Stromlo, helping research efforts for Antarctica.
‘When my mum came to visit me she exclaimed that there were more kangaroos than people in this country!’
It all started when Julia’s father, an astronomy professor in China, met the Director of Mt Stromlo Observatory at a conference in Tokyo about 24 years ago. One thing led to another and before too long Julia was brought along on contract with the ANU to work on the Joint Australian Centre of Astrophysical Research in Antarctica program.
She designed the mechanics of a telescope mount that would cope with minus 80 degree centigrade temperatures and 80 km/hour winds. Not an easy job!
But Julia succeeded. The telescope mount she helped design used special material sourced from the US and was tough enough to stand up to the worst storms Antarctica could deliver and use only 6 watts of power. Nothing like it existed at the time.
It was strange being so far from home, knowing no one and being the only female engineer at Mt Stromlo. Julia said this was one of the first big cultural differences she encountered. A quarter of her fellow engineering students were female and there were generally a lot more females working as engineers in China than was the case in Australia.
‘I was initially given only a three month contract because they were a little uncertain about me being female and Chinese, but I ended up working at the ANU for 5 years before coming to IP Australia,’ says Julia. Since being at IP Australia Julia has worked as a patent examiner (for her first ten years here) before a series of other roles ending up in her being a policy officer working on domestic policy and implementing the policy register.