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Technical support

Change over time

As the University and the Faculty of Engineering grew and funding began to decrease, so too did the ratio of technical staff to academic staff. Current Laboratory Manager Chris Powell recalls that ‘there used to be a ratio of 2 to 1 – two staff in support of academic staff – now it's about 0.8’ He commented that ‘in the early 1970s we had 10 postgrads with about 20 academics’. Today, while academic staff numbers are similar, postgraduate numbers are almost ten times that of the 1970s – placing a much higher demand on technical staff and influencing the level of support they are able to provide.

Another major change that has affected the laboratories and technical staff at Monash University has been the introduction of stringent occupational health and safety regulations. A former technical staff member spoke of a time when he spent days in a one metre diameter hole 60–70 metres under ground assisting with an experiment. But, gradually, over time, things began to change.

Tam Sridhar remembers just as he started his PhD research there was an explosion in Britain involving the same type of reactor that his research involved. From that point experimenting was more difficult for Sridhar, ‘because suddenly safety became even more paramount’. In the early days of the Faculty safety measures were often a response to a specific incident, as it had been in Sridhar’s case. However gradually, occupational health and safety became more of an overarching policy and preventative measure. One former staff commented that by the mid-1990s, safety regulations had actually become particularly intrusive.

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