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Nurturing curiosity: A journey from engineering to public policy

14 July 2023

Embracing the opportunities, Crawford’s Master of Public Administration graduate discovers the power of collective responses and prepares to develop innovative solutions for a better future.

Milton Woods grew up in Adelaide with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His parents, recognizing his passion for understanding how things worked, supported his education and encouraged his pursuit of the sciences. This upbringing led Milton to choose a path in electrical engineering

Beginning his professional journey, Milton played a significant role in the design and production of sonar systems, undertaking his PhD at the University of Adelaide on the topic.

It was there that Milton’s concern for climate change grew, leading him to find a post-doctoral position at CSIRO in Canberra. There, he worked on wind energy modelling and forecasting, witnessing firsthand the rapid growth of the wind energy industry in Australia. However, political uncertainty surrounding climate change made research funding more difficult to secure, prompting Milton to transition to the Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne. At the Bureau, he applied his skills in scientific computing to various modelling systems, which provide valuable forecasts for the public and support the protection of life and property during severe weather events.

Despite the satisfaction he found in his work at the Bureau, Milton felt a stronger call to contribute to the clean energy transition. Recognizing the need to broaden his knowledge in public policy and management, he seized the opportunity to study remotely at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy. The school’s reputation for excellence and its wide range of captivating subjects, particularly the Master of Public Administration, resonated with his interests in climate and energy policy, as well as science and technology policy.

“I considered other universities as well, but I knew that Crawford has strong connections with the Australian Public Service and is probably the most respected school of its kind in Australia,” Milton said.

Milton shared with us that his experience at Crawford has been the most enjoyable period of formal education in his life. “My student colleagues were highly engaged, came from diverse backgrounds, and had an impressive range of professional experiences, so that our discussions were educational in themselves. The Crawford classes were always thoughtfully structured and backed by quality teaching materials, and I found that the combination of pre-recorded lectures and live tutorial sessions matched my learning needs well. The teachers were experts in their subjects, as well as being approachable and helpful. The assignments and projects were clearly linked to the learning outcomes, and they often allowed me to choose case studies and issues that I wanted to explore in detail,” he added.

In line with Crawford’s vision, Milton acknowledged the importance of addressing local policy issues to tackle global challenges like climate change. He emphasized the need for local policy solutions supporting a safe climate, while also highlighting the necessity of coordinated efforts at higher levels of government to ensure effective resource allocation and avoid unintended consequences. He believes his future endeavours could have the most impact in improving national and international coordination to drive meaningful change.

Among the memorable experiences at Crawford, one subject stood out for Milton – Contemporary Challenges in Indigenous Policy, taught by Associate Professor Elise Klein. This thought-provoking course allowed students to investigate policy areas and propose ways to better support First Nations’ self-determination and sovereignty, offering valuable insights for constructive responses to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Reflecting on his time at Crawford, Milton offered advice to prospective students: “As someone who had not written an essay for over 20 years when I started at Crawford, I was quite worried about my ability to succeed in the assessments. Thankfully, Crawford has an excellent Academic Skills team, and I found them enormously helpful in getting my writing and research skills up to speed. If you are interested in a Crawford course but are unsure about your academic skills, I encourage you to enrol and make the most of the support services available at Crawford.”

As the world faces significant challenges, Milton recognizes the importance of collective responses through high-quality public policy and services. While he is eagerly anticipating contributing to the development of innovative solutions in his future, he added that Schools like Crawford play a vital role in preparing students to tackle these complex problems.

From all of us at Crawford: Congratulations, Milton!

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Updated:  25 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team