Applying an engineering mindset to equality and sustainability: Professor Wenny Rahayu

Applying an engineering mindset to equality and sustainability: Professor Wenny Rahayu

As an esteemed expert in data engineering, complete with a PhD in computer science, La Trobe’s Dean of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Professor Wenny Rahayu has earned an international reputation as a compassionate and strategic, level-headed leader.

Driving social innovation through big data and technology

I am a Professor in Computer Science and my research focuses on Big Data – from data management and analytics to data privacy and security. I have supervised around 20 PhD graduates so far and have led a number of industry collaborative projects in this area.

Working with big data and data-driven technologies opens a huge variety of very exciting projects, applications, and industries to work on in the community. I have been working on projects in the area of health, defence, air traffic systems, manufacturing, transport, and logistics, and no doubt the list will continue to grow.

It’s the diverse range of applications and the pronounced impact that technology can have on the community which I find most compelling about working in this field.

I have so much passion for my discipline, which is something I share with my colleagues — we all want to bring engineering, technology, computer and mathematical sciences to the fore, to inspire students, and make research contributions that have real-world application and impact.

Computer science, climate change and collective responsibility

Addressing climate crisis is certainly a collective responsibility as we all collectively contribute to climate change and global warming. The computer science community has been very proactive in multi-disciplinary efforts and in collaboration with other relevant disciplines to establish technology- driven solutions in this area.

Data and sensor technologies will enable industries and individuals to accurately capture and monitor environmental changes which drive timely decision making.

I have been involved in disaster management system research in the past, in collaboration with a few international researchers following the deadly 2004 tsunami in Asia, with a particular focus on mobile data and sensor technology to establish environmental monitoring and early warning systems.

Taking action to improve gender equality in STEM

Gender imbalance is one fundamental problem in our STEM discipline areas, and together with colleagues within our School, we have established a range of initiatives to improve gender diversity. These initiatives include scholarships and stipend support for women in engineering and technology, internship opportunities, cultural and leadership events, mentoring, and coaching.

While these initiatives are very important, at the same time, I believe our effort should be continuous and we need to constantly find opportunities to promote gender equality in everything we do in our work and research environment.
I am currently the Diversity & Inclusion Chair at an international conference on Web Information Systems Engineering, a role which is part of an international effort among the database and IT communities worldwide to consolidate effort in improving diversity and inclusion at international conferences.

Striving for a sustainable and equitable future through peer networks

The many people I find inspiring and admirable include my female PhD graduates who are inspired to provide higher education opportunities for more women in their home countries, my colleagues and students who devote their time to work on different projects in this area, my research collaborators who want to make a difference in the way we work at conferences and research centres, the list goes on… tThese are people I meet on a daily basis and who have made a difference in their communities, small or big.