Meet Kirsten and Florence: Snowy 2.0 tunnellers anything but boring

One of the four tunnel boring machines for Snowy 2.0
Image: Snowy Hydro

Snowy Hydro recently announced the winning names for two of its Snowy 2.0 tunnel boring machines (TBMs)—Kirsten and Florence.

Students in the Snowy Mountains were invited to nominate groundbreaking Australian women in the fields of science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) for the Snowy 2.0 TBM Naming Competition. Almost 3,000 people voted on a shortlist of six influential women, with astrophysicist Kirsten Banks and electrical engineer Florence Violet McKenzie receiving majority votes.

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“We congratulate the two students who nominated these influential women: Kobe Burnes (Brungle) choosing Kirsten Banks and Riley Douch (Berridale) selecting Florence Violet McKenzie,” A Snowy Hydro spokesperson said.

“Our student competition winners will receive prizes including a visit to the Snowy 2.0 construction site to see their named TBM before it goes underground and a VIP experience for their class at the Snowy Hydro Discovery Centre in Cooma.

“The three Snowy 2.0 TBMs now all have names, with the first already titled the Lady Eileen Hudson, in honour of the original Snowy Scheme ambassador and wife of inaugural Commissioner, Sir William Hudson.”

Tunnel boring machines are always named after women, a tradition stemming from the 1600s when miners working underground prayed to Saint Barbara for protection.

Snowy Hydro, with its commitment to inspiring students to become the next generation of innovators, asked local children in school stages 3-6 (years 5-12) to highlight the achievements of inspiring Australian STEM women as part of the Snowy 2.0 TBM Naming Competition. More than 70 nominations were received from 15 schools throughout the Snowy Mountains region.

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Kirsten Banks is an astrophysicist, science communicator and proud Wiradjuri woman. She loves to share her passion for the stars and is well-known for her short and entertaining TikTok videos about space and astronomy. Currently she is doing a PhD in the field of galactic archaeology, studying the stars of the Milky Way to uncover secrets of its formation and evolution.

Florence Violet McKenzie (1890-1982), Australia’s first female electrical engineer, is best known for her contribution to women’s technical education and for creating the Women’s Emergency Signalling Corps during World War II. She taught women telegraphy so they could replace men in this civilian occupation, however, she also trained more than 12,000 servicemen in morse code.

Find out more here.