Google eyes Australia's top engineering talent

Google has set its eyes on the nation's top IT talent as the company looks to rapidly expand numbers in its Australian operation.

Lars Rasmussen, head of engineering for Google Australia, said the Aussie operation was not "just" about localizing Google's myriad services. "The lion's share of engineering is to conduct original R&D."

He said the Sydney office, which was officially opened today by the IT Minister Helen Coonan, will be a "fully fledged" engineering centre.

The search company currently employs about 30 people in its Australian operations.

However, to encourage new talent, Google will be heading straight to Australia's leading universities.

As part of this strategy, the company announced the Google Australia Summer Internship Program, which will start in the 2006/07 summer holidays. The program will offer internships to top uni students, allowing them to work on projects which match their skills with the potential for full-time employment at the end of their degrees.

The aim is to develop and nurture any new ideas which come into the R&D centre, the company said. Eventually the intern program will be run on a year-round basis.

In coming weeks, Google will start its campus recruitment program, seeking to grab "extremely smart" students with all types of computing skills, company officials said.

Additionally, to encourage women in IT, Google will offer a travel grant for leading female IT developers to visit the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in San Diego later this year.

In her opening comments, Coonan said it's a compliment to the Australian ICT environment when international companies want to open an office here. "The Australian workforce is diverse and highly skilled. Attracting companies like Google will attract good software engineers. Google has a diverse workforce that can appeal to Generation Y and women."

Google has operated in Australia for the past four years. Its first office in Sydney housed four people, with Kate Vale, the national sales manager, first to be employed. It moved to its new offices in Sydney's Darling Park a month ago. It has also set up base in Melbourne and is currently hiring staff for its New Zealand operations.

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