Mars Buttfield-Addison


I'm from: Brisbane
Current Location: Sandy Bay
Position: PhD Candidate, School of Information and Communications Technology, University of Tasmania
Field of research/work: Computer Engineering
High Performance Computing
Space Domain Awareness
YTS Years: 2022

Mars's Notable career moments

  • First learned about outer space at school. Became obsessed.

  • (Age 15) Flunked out of High School after struggling with autism, bullying.

  • (Age 22) Quit hospo job, drove to Tasmania, enrolled in UTAS UPP.

  • (Age 23) Began Bachelor of ICT at UTAS.

  • (Age 26) Began ICT Honours with UTAS/CSIRO.

  • (Age 27) Began PhD (Computer Engineering) at UTAS/CSIRO in space-related technology.

About Mars Buttfield-Addison

Did you know that your eyes actually see everything upside down? But your brain flips everything right side up again! The human brain does all sorts of neat tricks like that; translating the crazy information from all our senses into information we can understand. Like how each of your eyes only see a flat picture (try it, close one eye and see!) but both eyes together show you how far away things are (called “depth perception”). Also, when you hear a noise you can tell which direction it came from. Human brains are amazing.
Well, I don’t work with brains. I work with computers. But they’re actually pretty similar. Instead of eyes, computers can have cameras. Instead of ears, computers can have microphones. Computers can even be given senses that humans don’t have—like the ability to detect magnets or radiation (I wish I could do that!). And these sensing devices (called “sensors”) connect to computers to provide them with information, exactly like our sensory organs do for our brains. The big difference is, computers don’t know how to do all those clever ‘brain’ tricks by themselves—it’s my job to teach them.
I am a Computer Scientist. That means I help computers do science. Which happens to be the best job in the world because I get to work with every other kind of scientist. I have taught computers to use their sensors to recognise everything from people’s faces and animal calls and weather, to paintings and angry language and radio signals, and in doing so I helped the scientists that study those things. Right now, I help computers connected to giant telescopes to recognise satellites in outer space—so that space scientists can make sure they don’t crash into each other.
No two days are alike for a Computer Scientist—every day presents completely new problems to solve, but when we succeed, we enable whole new kinds of science to unfold!