Improving tertiary pathways by improving support for prospective students

Professor Julie Mills (University of South Australia)

Professor Julie Mills is Professor of Engineering Education and Head of the School of Natural and Built Environments at the University of South Australia. Prof Mills is a structural engineer and worked on a wide range of projects from power stations to houses during 15 years of industry practice before joining the University of South Australia as a lecturer in 1996. She has held a range of leadership positions at UniSA including Program Director of Civil Engineering for 12 years, Head of School for 2 years and now Head of Civil Engineering and Associate Head of School since 2011.

Prof Mills is a passionate and committed teacher, focussing on the areas of Structural Engineering, Engineering Design and professional practice and has received many University of South Australia teaching awards. She was awarded the National Teaching Excellence Award from the Australasian Association for Engineering Education in 2009, and a Carrick Institute Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning in 2006.

Prof Mills’ research is structured around three areas – engineering education, women in engineering and structural engineering. She has published widely, supervised PhD students in each area and received OLT, ARC and industry grants to support her research. All of her research involves collaboration in multi-disciplinary teams.

Prof Mills has led two previous OLT (ALTC) grants. In 2008 she was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Competitive Grant of $193,000 over 2 years with A/Prof Judy Gill and Ms Virginia Mehrtens for CG8-696 – Gender Inclusive Curriculum in Engineering and Construction Management. Project partners were the University of Melbourne, UTS and the University of Newcastle. A significant outcome from this grant was the publication of a first author book titled Gender Inclusive Engineering Education, published by Routledge in 2010, and the inclusion of gender inclusive requirements within the Engineers Australia accreditation guideline documents. In 2010 Prof Mills was awarded an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Priority Project Grant of $206,000 over 2 years with Ms Elizabeth Smith, Dr Nicholas Chileshe and Mr Darren Fong for PP10-1745- Collaborative building design education using Building Information Modelling. The project partners were UTS and the University of Newcastle. The most significant outcome from this grant was the development of the CODEBIM curriculum development framework, which has now been utilised in the partner universities, is being taken up in other Australian universities and recently in a US university. Prof Mills has also been a project team member for another ALTC competitive grant and a member of the reference group for three other OLT grants since 2008.

In addition to academic leadership roles, Prof Mills has held state and national leadership roles related to Women in Engineering (WIE), in which she has been involved since co-founding the SA WIE group in 1984. Prof Mills was a member of the National Committee for Women in Engineering within Engineers Australia for many years and was convenor in 2004-6, being instrumental in securing agreement for the Year of Women in Engineering in 2007. Her research in women in engineering has resulted in two Australian Research Council grants in this area and the publication of a first author book with three colleagues, titled Challenging knowledge, sex and power: Gender, work and engineering published by Routledge in 2013.

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