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DESCRIPTIONUQ Ingenuity Magazine - For graduates, alumni, industry and studentsof Engineering at The University of Queensland.
BREAKING NEW GROUNDSafer mines and saving lives with UQ Alumnus David Noon
ingenuity ingenious genius ge genesis engineer generate enge ingenious e ingenuity genuine genes engineer ingenuity ingenious genius ingenuity genuine engineer ingenuity ingenious genius ingenuity genuine engineer ingenui ty ingenious geniu e e engender gen engineering g
in•gen•ú•i•tyISSUE 1, 2011
EDITORIAL TEAMJonathan Cosgrove Garry Bain Madelene Flanagan
CONTRIBUTING WRITERSJonathan Cosgrove Claire Corones Caroline Crosthwaite Erik De Wit Madelene Flanagan Andrew Liveris Graham Schaffer Tara Young
PHOTOGRAPHYLyle Radford Stewart Gould (UQ) Jeremy Patten (UQ)
PUBLISHING INFORMATIONFergies Print and Mail
CRICOS Provider Number 00025B
Printed on recycled paper
>Due for completion in 2013, The Advanced
Engineering Building will enable research-led
learning experiences and small group learning.
< COVER PHOTO: David Noon, GroundProbe’s Chief Commercial Officer
UQ Engineering is ON THE MOVE
MUCH HAS CHANGED IN THE WORLD over the past century since UQ Engineering admitted its first students. But while empires, moon-landings and post-modernism may have come and gone, our mode of teaching in universities has largely endured. This is now beginning to change – and rapidly. A transformation in higher education is occurring.
Crucially, we now refer to learning rather than teaching, which puts the student and their experience at the centre of our enterprise. As you will discover in this first edition of ingenuity, these changes have been driven by technological factors, student demands and the emergence of learning in higher education as a discipline of its own. I’m proud that UQ Engineering is at the forefront of this transformation.
We now have a major team of engineering educators and are rapidly developing as an international centre of excellence in engineering education. Our staff have won ten national teaching awards in the last eight years, including a Prime Minister’s Prize for University Teacher of the Year.
Our classroom practice is changing, with the engineering curriculum under continuous improvement, and learning spaces are also being transformed; the opening of the Advanced Engineering Building in 2013 will provide a magnificent space to enable research-led learning, with classrooms designed for small group learning that give students the opportunity to design, build and test components, structures and systems.
04 NewsWhat’s been happening at UQ Engineering in 2011?
08 A leader of nationsAustralia needs an innovation revolution to solve the world’s greatest challenges
10 Need for speedLeading the world in Hypersonics research
14 Women in powerLeading the way often means just getting on with it
18 The quest for sustainabilityTackling engineering issues to improve industry practice
20 Engineering goes greenSugarcane, jet fuels and new generation plastics
22 Global best practiceCover story: From UQ labs to global best practice
24 Navigating how we thinkMaking sense of the complex world of ideas
25 Emerging researchersThe research work of today will transform the world of tomorrow
26 Turning theory into practiceThe evolution of engineering education
30 Inspiring othersStudent Yassmin-Abdel Magied: leading the way for others is all in a day’s work
31 Make it soEngineering students are improving lives in developing countries
<< crucially, we now refer to learning rather than teaching, which puts the student and their experience at the centre of our enterprise >>
And as these changes take place on campus, we are evolving “off-campus” by reaching out in new ways to support mutually beneficial relationships between UQ Engineering, and our alumni and friends in industry. The launch of ingenuity
is one small way that we believe we can better share the stories, opportunities and challenges that come with being associated and involved with UQ Engineering. With engineering education on the move – particularly at UQ – the challenge in producing this first issue of ingenuity has not been what to put in, but what to leave out.
I encourage you to drop us a line with your thoughts and feedback.
With best wishes,
Professor Graham SchafferExecutive Dean Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 3
What a degree from UQ means for youTerrific news for alumni as UQ has again been listed amongst the top universities around the globe, in 2011.
Global rankings are becoming increasingly important as students and academics rely upon them to make informed choices on where to study and work.
Three independent ranking systems have ranked UQ amongst the leading institutions in the world for engineering research and education this year.
The prestigious Academic Ranking of World Universities, published by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, ranked UQ in the 52-75 band internationally in engineering/technology and computer engineering. UQ was the only Queensland university ranked in the top 100, and one of only four from Australia.
UQ has also fared extremely well in the QS World University Rankings. UQ was ranked 29 in the world for chemical engineering, 34 in the world for civil and structural engineering and 48th for computer science and information systems. We were also ranked in the top 100 in electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing engineering.
The Excellence in Research for Australia survey has ranked UQ among the top three engineering universities in Australia, with more researchers at UQ working in research fields assessed above world standard than at any other Australian university. All nine of our engineering fields ranked at well-above the world standard (level 5) or above world standard (level 4).
As a graduate, these rankings reflect on the high calibre of your degree, and help promote ongoing recognition of its quality amongst employers.
GREEN THUMBS UP FOR UQ MINE REHABILITATION TECHNOLOGYA breakthrough technology which could potentially allow for the re-vegetation of barren mine sites has been developed by a multidisciplinary research team at UQ.
The new technology that promotes plant growth at mine sites previously unable to support any vegetation due to heavy soil contamination is being trialled at UQ with financial support from Xstrata Technology.
UniQuest, UQ’s main commercialisation company established start-up venture company, MetalloTek Pty Ltd, to manage further development and commercialisation of the technology in partnership with industry stakeholders.
Xstrata Technology CEO, Joe Pease, said the research showed the potential to deliver smart and sustainable ways of dealing with metal contamination in soils – a critical concern for mining companies committed to sustainable rehabilitation.
The technology recently received the Excellence in Environmental Management Award at the 8th Australian Mining Prospect Awards dinner presentation in Sydney on 7 September 2011.
QUEENSLAND IS A GLOBAL HUB FORgeothermal energy researchUQ and the Sunshine State are leading the field in Geothermal Energy research.
Through the development of the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence (QGECE) at UQ, we are establishing ourselves as the global hub for geothermal energy research, technology development and job creation.
The Queensland Government’s investment of $15 million in the QGECE represents the largest investment in geothermal energy research in Australia.
“Geothermal has a bright future in Queensland because it has the potential to produce more base-load energy than any other renewable energy source,” Energy Minister Stephen Robertson said.
“The QGECE is undertaking research and development to progress large-scale electricity generation from subterranean hot rocks and hot sedimentary aquifers. This important work is helping position Queensland as a leading technology provider in the growing international geothermal energy sector,” he said.
4 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
Researcher teaches robots TO INVENT THEIR OWN LANGUAGEEver wondered what robots would say if they could talk? Wonder no more...
Postdoctoral research fellow Dr Ruth Schulz and her colleagues have created a pair of mobile robots known as ‘Lingodroids’ which are able to communicate by developing their own words for places, and relationships between places based on distance and direction.
The language sounds like a sequence of phone tones, which are easy for the robots to produce and hear in a noisy office environment, before being translated into syllables to make it easy for humans to recognise them.
Dr Schulz said that the robots start by playing where-are-we games.
“If they encounter an area that has not yet been named, one will invent a word, such as “kuzo”, choosing a random combination of syllables, which it is then able to communicate to other robots it meets, thus defining the name of the place,” she said.
The resulting language consists of location, distance and direction words, enabling the robots to refer to new places based on their relationship to known locations.
After having played hundreds of games to develop their language, the robots agreed upon concepts for toponyms within 0.65 metres, directions within 10 degrees and distances within 0.375 metres.
New vaccine delivery company STARTS WITH AUD15 MILLION INVESTMENTIf you are afraid of needles, or know of someone who is, then take note!
$15 million has been invested in a start-up biotechnology company with the aim to develop a revolutionary new needle-free vaccine delivery system.
New company Vaxxas Pty Ltd will enable Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology’s (AIBN) Professor Mark Kendall to continue his pioneering research and development of the Nanopatch.
The Nanopatch has thousands of small projections designed to deliver the vaccine to abundant immune cells in the skin, whereas the traditional syringe hits the muscle where there are few immune cells.
Early stage testing in animals has shown a Nanopatch-delivered flu vaccine is effective with only 1/150th of the dose compared to a syringe and the adjuvants currently required to boost the immunogenicity of vaccines may not be needed.
On September 6, 2011 Nanopatch’s vaccination team were awarded the ‘Australian Research Council Eureka Prize for Excellence in Research by an Interdisciplinary Team’ for their needle-free vaccine invention.
This award recognises the potential of the Nanopatch to revolutionise vaccination methods in Australia and around the globe.
NEW WRAPPERS protect crops and the environmentUQ researchers have signed a licence agreement with major plastic film supplier Integrated Packaging to produce a range of degradable polyethylene films for agricultural and industrial applications.
The research which involves academics from the School of Chemical Engineering, AIBN, Queensland University of Technology, CSIRO, Integrated Packaging and Birchip Cropping Group aims to protect crops during establishment and accelerate their growth while conserving soil moisture.
The research involved the creation of polyethylene for agricultural films and wraps, which would protect crops and paper but break down over time to avoid
disposal of non-degradable plastic waste to landfill.
More than 500 films were tested during the research. The different options were analysed for protective properties during the crop’s first four-to-six weeks as well as degradation during the crop cycle to stop them overheating closer to harvest.
Project researchers have begun a “technology transfer” so Integrated Packaging can begin developing the films ahead of sales to agriculture and industry.
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 5
This year’s Alumni awards have highlighted the high calibre of UQ’s engineering alumni, with six graduates receiving acknowledgement for their achievements as part of the university-wide award programs.
Acknowledging the international impact of his work, Co-founder, CEO and Managing Director of IUT Global Pty Ltd, Edwin Khew received the 2011 International Alumnus of the Year Award.
Jack Valmadre (Mechatronic Engineering) and Christian Hoermann (Software Engineering) were both named Graduates of the Year, for achieving perfect grades (GPA 7) all the way through their degrees.
THE NEW INVENTORS –Smart CapUQ mechanical and space engineering alumnus, Dr Daniel Bongers is improving the safety of the mining industry through his invention of the ‘SmartCap.’
The SmartCap measures and manages fatigue levels of machinery operators and drivers of heavy equipment in real-time.
heats upThrough the launch of the Newcrest Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Laboratory, Newcrest is safeguarding the future of the mining industry.
Funded by a $270,000 contribution from Newcrest Mining Limited (Newcrest), the Newcrest HVAC Laboratory will enhance UQ’s delivery of courses to develop specialised mining skills and knowledge in the application of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and heat transfer in various heating and cooling processes.
Funding for the new laboratory equipment is part of Newcrest’s $2.5 million long-term commitment to UQ, which includes $480,000 in scholarship support for engineering students over the next five years and $250,000 over the next ten years for mining engineering research, together with other ongoing research projects.
Newcrest’s Executive General Manager People and Communications, Debra Stirling, said that Newcrest had a long and rewarding partnership with UQ.
“Today’s students are tomorrow’s graduates and the next generation of mining technology engineers to lead the resources sector into the future. The partnership between Newcrest and UQ is an excellent example of University-industry collaboration to provide improved education to graduates. This in turn will enable them to develop the skills and capacity for innovation they need to help build a stronger, more sustainable mining industry,” Ms Stirling said.
The SmartCap is a baseball hat with a number of sophisticated sensors built into the cap’s lining that monitors the fatigue levels of the mining machine operator’s via their brainwave information.
If a potentially dangerous fatigue level is reached, a warning message is sent to the driver’s in-cab display, alerting them of the need to stop, rest and refresh.
“UQ’s strong partnerships with Cooperative Research Centres played an integral part in my studies,” Dr Bongers said. “The unique mix of research and industry collaboration resulted in a very stimulating and challenging environment.”
Dr David Noon received a high commendation from the Vice-Chancellor for his nomination as 2011 Young Alumnus of the Year. Dr Noon is the Chief Commercial Officer and co-founder of GroundProbe, whose work is now considered global best practice amongst mining organisations.
As part of the Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Equity and Diversity Awards, Melanie Gordon was highly commended for her commitment to improving gender diversity within the resources sector. Dale Young was also highly commended for the ‘Safe Water for Better Health’ project which he developed in Tanzania.
ENGINEERS FEATURE HEAVILY IN UQ’S ALUMNI AWARDS
6 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
Awardees benefit from PHILANTHROPIC GIFTAs part of UQ’s Research Week, the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology held its annual Research, Innovation and Supervision Awards, acknowledging outstanding academics in their fields.
Each award recipient received a monetary prize towards their research, which was funded thanks to a generous gift from a civil engineering alumnus.
Among the recipients was Dr Ross McAree, leader of the Smart Machines Group whose research has successfully translated technologies of significant importance to the Australian and International mining industry such as the patented payload estimation mining shovels, which provide improved payload measurement accuracy. Over 100 of these systems have been commissioned on shovels worldwide with an estimated value to the industry of over $100M.
Meanwhile Dr Bing Keong Li, Mr Ewald Weber and Professor Stuart Crozier were recognised for having developed and patented new radiofrequency technology for use in medical imaging. Their technology has been licensed by Bruker and forms part of the company’s product portfolio. Siemens Medical are currently in discussions to use the technology for musculoskeletal imaging.
ENGINEERING CAMP INSPIRES HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTSThe recently held Spark Engineering Camp allowed high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds to experience university life and learn about engineering as a profession.
Youth Without Borders President and fourth year Mechanical Engineering student at UQ, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, said the Spark Engineering Camp was intended to show high school students where an engineering degree can lead to. UQ SCIENTISTS BUILD
environmental education IN THE SOLOMONSA multidisciplinary team from UQ has produced a new book to help promote sustainability in the Solomon Islands.
Solomon Islands Marine Life was presented to Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Education’s Undersecretary Professional Aseri Yalangono by Dr Simon Albert on behalf of UQ’s Centre for Water Futures in June this year.
The book contains essential information on the local marine and land environments and their ecological connections in addition to monitoring and management methods.
Solomon Islanders already possess a rich understanding of the environment through traditional knowledge built up over generations.
The new resource aims to complement this knowledge with key scientific principles that cover new and evolving issues including water quality and over-harvesting.
The book is part of a multidisciplinary project led by Adjunct Professor James Udy and Dr Albert from the School of Civil Engineering, combining research and educational outreach with involvement from Associate Professor Jennifer Corrin from the School of Law and Dr Ian Tibbetts from the School of Biological Sciences.
“The camp is for those students who wouldn’t usually get a chance to attend this type of program, or those who have the potential to come to university and study engineering but haven’t considered it as an option,” she said.
In the five-day camp, hosted by UQ and Youth Without Borders, students took part in forum discussions, networked with UQ engineering graduates and current students, and participated in ‘field’ visits such as a trip to Dreamworld and a Story Bridge climb.
“The camp has succeeded far beyond my expectations; the sponsorship, the students who attended and their level of engagement with the program, and the personal growth for all involved has been truly uplifting,” said Ms Abdel-Magied.
“To have students from all walks of life considering a university option due to Spark is a heart warming result indeed. For many, this would make them the first in their families to go to university,” she said.
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 7
8 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY surprised the world last quarter, growing faster than expected as other economies shrank and sputtered. Indeed, with low unemployment and high quality of life, Australia is a country to be admired. It has weathered the global economic crisis while remaining connected to the global economy. In the near term, Australia’s prospects for prosperity look bright.
But as Australians, we must think beyond the near term—past fiscal quarters and business cycles—and consider this country’s place in the world generations down the road. Australia has a choice: it can be merely the envy of nations, or a leader among them.
Australia’s recent growth has largely been driven by a boom in natural resources. It has extracted them, exported them, and added to the national wealth in the process.
But a resource-based economy can only take the country so far.
Consider our economic relationship with China. China’s meteoric rise is of incredible value to Australia. We provide the coal and gas that fuel their growth. We produce the minerals that build their cities and infrastructure. They will continue to grow, and both countries will continue to benefit.
While Australia should still tap its resources, this country cannot pigeonhole itself as the world’s quarry or China’s miner. Commodities markets are cyclical and volatile. And other nations can make huge purchases—or none at all—according to their own whims.
Though Australia’s resources are diverse, the nation is not immune from outside forces. Australians know we are lucky to have been blessed with such abundance, but we know, too, that a country—however lucky it is—cannot rely solely on luck.
I believe we can build an economy that is far less dependent on luck and on the prosperity of others. To do that, we must recognize that Australia’s resources below ground can be equaled—or exceeded—by our resources above ground. We must unlock our intellectual resources along with our natural ones.
What I envision is an innovation and advanced manufacturing economy.
Innovation economies don’t just react to the global economy—they drive it. They generate the bold ideas and create the cutting-edge products that change our world, and the way we live in it. Most importantly, they are at the forefront of solving the world’s challenges, from increasing urbanization, to changing climates, to a skyrocketing demand for energy.
For Australia to have the capacity to solve those challenges as well, we must reorient the country’s economy with a comprehensive, long-term plan.
First and foremost, Australia requires a robust advanced manufacturing sector. Advanced manufacturing takes inputs, combines them with intellectual capability, and adds value to a functionality the world needs—pure water, lower carbon emissions, faster and more effective smart phones. This is the kind of economy that
a leader of nationsUQ GRADUATE, CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY, DR ANDREW LIVERIS, BELIEVES AUSTRALIA MUST COMMIT TO AN INNOVATION REVOLUTION IF THE WORLD’S GREATEST CHALLENGES ARE TO BE SOLVED.
<< I believe we can build an economy
that is far less dependent on luck
and on the prosperity of others. To do that, we must recognize
that Australia’s resources below
ground can be equaled—or
exceeded—by our resources above ground. We must
unlock our intellectual
resources along with our natural ones >>
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 9
will generate sustainable growth and long-term prosperity.
This country also needs skilled workers to operate these manufacturing plants and the many jobs created up and down the supply chain. Australia has a small worker base. If we want an economy run by the best and the brightest, we not only require an education system that can produce them, but an immigration system that can attract them. Let us be frank: we need population growth to fuel that future.
Australia does not have to swap its current economy for a brand-new one. This is about seeking balance, enhancing our strengths instead of resting on them.
In fact, we should find balance within the strongest part of our economy, the natural-resources sector. Every year, millions of tons of natural gas are piped on to the Australian mainland. But virtually none of it is available to the Australian consumer. Prices are so high that the market dictates all this natural gas should be liquefied and shipped overseas.
When those gas tankers leave Australia’s shores, so does an enormous opportunity. Everything—from your house
to your car to this paper and the ink on it—is manufactured using petrochemical feedstocks like natural gas. In the process of breaking them down and making new compounds, companies like Dow create chain reactions not just in the chemistry, but in the economy. In the U.S., for example, the chemical industry used $60 billion worth of hydrocarbon feedstocks last year, and had a direct output of $720 billion. That’s a 12 times value add.
Australia must balance the distribution of its natural resources. If this country exported some and kept the rest for domestic use, our economy could surge unlike ever before.
But none of these measures—from reserving natural gas, to changing immigration policy, to investing in the manufacturing industry—can be achieved by the private sector or the public sector alone. Creating an innovation economy requires a public/private partnership between business and government, between academia and CSIRO. The Australian government must facilitate these partnerships. It can be doing far more to identify the sectors that are vital
to the country’s future. It can be investing far more, alongside the private sector, in developing and scaling up these industries.
If Australia can build up the manufacturing and innovation capacity in its economy, I believe it can be a pioneer in solving the world’s greatest challenges. We can lead in the export of ideas and revolutionary products. We can set an example for the international community to follow.
But doing so will take courageous leadership—and an abiding commitment. It’s the kind of commitment on par with fighting a war or seeking to put a man on the moon, a commitment of conscience and a commitment of resources.
Is a national plan to create an innovation economy too ambitious? No, it is not. It is entirely achievable if Australia chooses to become a global leader, and then acts on that intention •Andrew Liveris is the Chairman, CEO and President of The Dow Chemical Company. He graduated with First Class Honours in Chemical Engineering from UQ in 1976.
10 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
NEED for SPEEDHy·per·són·ic: speed equal to or exceeding 5 x the speed of sound
Scrám·jets: air-breathing engines capable of travelling at hypersonic speeds, greater than Mach 5
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 11
LEADING THE WORLD’S UNIVERSITIES IN SCRAMJET RESEARCH AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION, UQ IS AT THE
FOREFRONT OF AUSTRALIA’S HYPERSONICS ACTIVITY. BUT
AS PROFESSOR RUSSELL BOYCE FROM UQ’S CENTRE FOR HYPERSONICS ADMITS,
THE NATION’S HYPERSONICS ACTIVITY STILL HAS A LONG
WAY TO GO.
NEED for SPEEDFOR THE PAST 20 YEARS, hypersonic aerodynamics has been a major research activity at UQ. Although scramjet technology has been recognised since the 1950s, international scientists have taken many years to develop research to the point where extremely high flight speed with airbreathing engines rather than rockets is nearing reality.
Australia’s first Professor of Space Engineering, UQ’s Emeritus Professor Ray Stalker began studying scramjets in 1982, leading to the development of UQ’s Centre for Hypersonics in 1997 and cementing the University’s position as an international leader in the hypersonics field.
For almost 15 years, the Centre has provided international leadership and collaboration on major international projects, a high-level of fundamental and
<< we need to gain access to seats at international space tables so that we have a say about what goes on >>
Hy·per·són·ic: speed equal to or exceeding 5 x the speed of sound
Scrám·jets: air-breathing engines capable of travelling at hypersonic speeds, greater than Mach 5
applied research, as well as training opportunities of the highest international standards for graduate and undergraduate students.
The Centre aims to conduct excellent hypersonics science that underpins the realities of flight at extraordinary speeds, and to do so in cooperation with strategic partners including the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), other universities in the Australian hypersonics network (University of Southern Queensland, University of Adelaide, University of New South Wales), Australian industry and international partners. In particular, they strive to focus on the science that contributes to the development of scramjet-based access-to-space systems.
“Hypersonics is an enabling technology for space science as it offers an improved reliability and reduced cost for inserting satellites into space via scramjet propulsion systems,” Professor Boyce says. >
12 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
NEED for SPEED
> “The research being conducted at the Centre aims to further improve this reliability and reduce the cost of inserting satellites into space, but also to advance the speeds at which they are propelled.”
Working in collaboration with 20 universities and research organisations, UQ has the largest university group in the world dedicated to hypersonics research, with approximately 50 academics, postdoctoral students and technical staff.
Professor Boyce says, “In some ways we bring the world of hypersonics together. Being a university, we are easy to collaborate with and many international organisations are either looking to establish partnerships with us, or already do partner with us.” While the USA and Europe have
<< hypersonics is an enabling technology for
space science as it offers an improved reliability and reduced cost for
inserting satellites into space via scramjet
propulsion systems >>
well-established industries related to hypersonics, Australia was slow to gather momentum. In the 1980s, the former British Aerospace Australia acted as the nation’s point of contact for hypersonic testing by the USA and Europe. However, thanks to collaborative partnerships with DSTO, BAE Systems, Boeing, Teakle Composites and AIMTEK, Australia’s hypersonics industry has slowly developed.
Says Professor Boyce, “There’s still a long way to go, but it’s growing.”
The establishment of the HyShot program at UQ’s Centre for Hypersonics several years ago resulted in DSTO becoming heavily involved with the University and Australia’s stake in the hypersonics industry. This collaboration resulted in the rapid growth and expansion of the country’s hypersonics
industry, which was further accelerated by the Australian Government’s Australian Space Research Program (ASRP). The ASRP has helped UQ to build the capacity necessary to reach higher speeds which are required for entry to space, and to educate and train the future of the nation’s space industry.
UQ established itself as an international player in the hypersonics industry, when a research team led by Professor Ray Stalker, Adjunct Professor Allan Paull and Professor David Mee conducted the world’s first successful ground tests to ‘fly’ a scramjet in 1993, in UQ’s T4 shock tunnel ground test facility.
“We essentially set the world on fire in 2002 with the first successful demonstration of supersonic combustion in flight at Mach 7.5 – even beating NASA
12 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 13
to do this. That is when we really made the world sit up and take notice of us,” comments Professor Boyce.
Six scramjet flights have now been hosted in Australia, with further experiments to test the technology in the US$50million Hypersonics International Flight Research (HiFiRE) series scheduled at Woomera over the next few years.
In order to maintain the University’s position as an international leader in hypersonics, Professor Boyce has the responsibility of cementing existing relationships and establishing new partnerships for UQ (and Australia).
The University has a long history of partnering with groups such as the DSTO, where Professor Boyce holds the position of Chair for Hypersonics. UQ and DSTO have an established agreement whereupon DSTO provide funding for the University’s hypersonics research under the proviso that DSTO holds the position of Chair for Hypersonics as well as a supporting research academic position. This agreement and the research which has been conducted as a result underpin the applied hypersonics activities undertaken by the DSTO.
Adding to his international profile, Professor Boyce also holds positions as the Australian representative on the steering committee for the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) International Spaceplanes and Hypersonics conference series, and Chairman of the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Space Science.
LEADING THE WAY IN SCRAMJET PROPULSION
“Australia has played a lead role in scramjet research for Mach 8+ (8 times the speed of sound or 8600km/hr) and, building on this heritage and these capabilities, the Scramjet-Based Access-to-Space Systems (SCRAMSPACE) project is tackling the science of scramjet flight in the Mach 8-14 range, and building capability for future flight programs and a future Australian space industry through the performance of a free flying scramjet flight experiment, SCRAMSPACE I.”
“Progress in the project, which is now at the halfway stage, has been excellent and has continued UQ’s position as a world leader in this area,” he says.
Funded by a $5million grant from the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Space Research Program, and $9million from an international partnership consortium, SCRAMSPACE aims to push the boundaries of science in order to achieve successful Scramjet flights at speeds of up to Mach 14.
There are a number of outcomes that Professor Boyce hopes to achieve with the Centre including a successful flight of SCRAMSPACE I, and the successful training of the SCRAMSPACE flight team. This will then pave the way to future phases of the SCRAMSPACE program, allowing more advanced scramjet technologies to be developed at UQ at higher speeds, placing UQ in a fantastic position to conduct ongoing flight experiments and work toward a scramjet-related/space industry in Australia.
Much of the University’s success in the hypersonics area is based on staff and student innovations and its unique world-class ground test facilities. The Centre’s projects also fund the research of many PhD students at UQ, as well as a number of students at partner universities.
“Exposure to the ground-breaking work being conducted at UQ’s Centre for Hypersonics has led to our graduates being employed in leading agencies across the globe,” Professor Boyce says.
So, where to next? “Most likely, we will be niche players in
a bigger international development. We have the capability to offer what the rest of the world wants and can use it to our advantage in gaining access to space-related technologies in international organisations,” he says.
“Australia relies heavily on space, but we have no real bargaining power due to our lack of space activity. We need to gain access to seats at international space tables so that we have a say about what goes on.”
For now, watch this space •
BOLSTERING UQ’S INTERNATIONAL HYPERSONIC PROFILE are a number of academics who each play a key role in ensuring that UQ retains its positioning in the global space industry.
UQ leads the world in planetary exploration research, which is led by PROFESSOR RICHARD MORGAN. The X2 and X3 superorbital expansion tubes (which are used for planetary exploration) are unique worldwide due to the fact that they can generate flow speeds of up to 13km per second which is enough to directly simulate re-entry from the Moon or Mars, or entry by Space probes into the atmospheres of other planets and their moons. As the Centre’s Director, Professor Morgan is able to transfer this planetary research directly to the field of hypersonics.
Leader of UQ’s HyShot Scramjet experiment program PROFESSOR MICHAEL SMART has helped secure funding for the University from the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC). Gaining UQ a share in the DMTC’s $1.5million project, as the project leader, Professor Smart is directing the testing of new materials to withstand extreme heat experienced by hypersonic vehicles in flight. This research aims to improve materials used in the construction of hypersonic vehicles so that they can fly for substantially longer.
PROFESSOR DAVID MEE is also a member of UQ’s Centre for Hypersonics. The research being conducted by Professor Mee is contributing to the development and improvement of scramjets. In 2002, Professor Mee was part of the research team who were the first to successfully complete the world’s first flight test of supersonic combustion – the process used in scramjets. This achievement put Australia at the forefront of scramjet technology.
<< engineering is all about how capable you are –
regardless of your gender >> – Merryn York
<< the industry… must communicate well
with the wider public… this is a challenge
that will face the electrical engineers of the
future >> – Else Shepherd
14 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
WOMEN IN THE ENGINEERING INDUSTRY have long been in the minority; scarcer still are female engineers in managerial roles.
But this has done little to deter UQ alumni and engineering pioneers Else Shepherd and Merryn York who are, respectively, Powerlink Queensland’s Chair of the Board, and Chief Executive.
As the first females in their positions at Powerlink, Else and Merryn are used to being one of few women in what is a male-dominated power engineering industry. “I think we’re fortunate in the engineering profession that we’re work driven, not personality driven,” Else says. “So the fact that you’re a woman never really comes into play.”
Graduating from UQ in 1965, Else and one other classmate were the first two women to gain engineering degrees from UQ. Since then, she has broken through gender barriers and helped to change social ideals regarding appropriate careers for women.
For instance, when Else joined the Institution of Engineers Australia in the 1960s she was unable to attend the
meetings which were held at the local Men’s Club. It wasn’t until the Institution changed venues that Else was finally able to participate, allowing her to pave the way for female engineers following in her footsteps.
Else has gone on to establish a highly successful career within the engineering industry, but despite this, remains modest. “I don’t see myself as a role model. As an engineer, you just get on with the work that needs to be done.”
It was in 1995, when Powerlink Queensland was established, that Else was approached to take on the role as the company’s Chair of the Board.
She makes a point of referring to herself as Chairman. “It’s just the title of my role. I don’t get hung up on it at all, and referring to myself as Chairwoman just sounds clumsy!”
As a Government owned corporation, Powerlink builds, operates and maintains Queensland’s high voltage electricity transmission network, which is consistently listed internationally in the top quartile for cost efficiency and reliability.
“Powerlink was formed as part of the competition reforms that came about in the 80s and 90s.” Merryn says. “It was put in place by the Queensland Government in response to the reforms and the separation of generation from network within the electricity industry.”
Initially employing 400 people from the Queensland Electricity Commission, Powerlink staff numbers have since more than doubled in size. Under Else’s nearly 17 year guidance as Chair of the Board, Powerlink’s assets have grown and are worth six billion dollars.
Such excellent achievements have resulted in a highly decorated career, with Else being announced the Queensland Professional Engineer of the Year in 2000 by the Institution of Engineers Australia.
Acknowledging her contributions to engineering, education and the electricity industry as a whole, Else has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). Furthermore, in 2007, she was ranked one of Australia’s “Top 25 Most Influential Female Engineers”. >
WOMEN IN POWER
1 Engineers Australia Statistical Overview 2009
WOMEN ARE UNDER-REPRESENTED IN THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION, ACCOUNTING FOR ONLY 9.6% OF ENGINEERS IN AUSTRALIA1. INDUSTRY AND UNIVERSITIES AROUND THE WORLD ARE IMPLEMENTING STEPS TO ADDRESS THIS ISSUE. BUT AS THESE TWO WOMEN SHOW, LEADING THE WAY OFTEN JUST MEANS GETTING ON WITH IT.
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 15
> Else’s achievements have not gone unrecognised by her alma mater either. In 2009, UQ awarded Else the Alumnus of the Year, and just this year awarded her a Doctor of Engineering honoris causa in recognition of her distinguished career.
When questioned about her engineering career, Else remains extremely modest.
“I just like being an engineer. I like that every day is different and I also like that you can create things and use your brain to create new ways of doing things.”
And as to her groundbreaking role as a female within the engineering industry?
“Being a woman has never been an issue for me. The one really good thing
“In all honesty, I just like being part of the electricity industry,” Merryn says. “There are two things I like about it. One is that it benefits the community to be involved in delivering electricity supply to them. Without electricity, life would be pretty miserable, so in a way it is a community service.
“And number two – I like that it is a big business. We have a lot of assets – six billion dollars in assets in fact. In the 2010/11 year we invested $475 million dollars in our capital programs, which includes the construction of close to 500 circuit kilometres of transmission lines and developing and upgrading various substations. We also expect to invest approximately $3.5 billion in capital works projects throughout Queensland over the next
<< if you love being able to apply your learning to the creation of something, then study engineering >>
five years.“So all of that makes for an
interesting job.”Working closely together as women
is something they doubt will pose any issues.
“I don’t think it will really be any different to what either of us has previously experienced,” Merryn comments . “Apparently women talk more, so I suppose that could be interpreted as both a good and a bad thing! But at the end of the day it really comes down to the work that you do.”
With Powerlink responsible for ensuring that the electricity transmission network is able to meet the power requirements and future growth of Queensland’s population, it is a responsibility both women take in their stride, but are not complacent about.
“There are a number of challenges facing the future of the power industry,” Else comments. “Queensland is experiencing very rapid growth at the moment. And people use more power hungry appliances, and want to use their air conditioners more and more. Then there’s all the mining companies
about engineers is that at the end of the day, what they’re really interested in is the work that you do. If you are capable of doing the work then there is never an issue.”
Else’s experiences mirror those of Merryn’s, who agrees that, as engineers you just come in, do the work and get on with it.
“There were only five girls out of the fifty or sixty electrical engineers who graduated in my year.
“I got used to being in the minority very early on. When I was going through school doing maths, physics and all of the science based subjects my class mates then were also mainly male students.”
Graduating from UQ in 1985, Merryn has worked in the electrical engineering industry for more than 25 years and has been employed by Powerlink since its inception 16 years ago.
Having worked her way up through various roles at Powerlink, Merryn was appointed Chief Executive of the company in July this year.
EN IN POWER
16 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
that require power connection, so we’re having to take our lines further west.”
Both women are also very aware of the need for the industry to effectively communicate with its customers and the wider community.
Else elaborates a little further, “The community is getting concerned about rising costs and infrastructure dotting the horizon. They are vocal about solar power and wind power because there is a lack of knowledge about the details and timeframes that it takes in which to do these things. So the industry is challenged in that it must communicate well with the wider public, and it must do this very carefully and wisely. This is a challenge that will face the electrical engineers of the future.
“I think in the longer term we’ll also have technological advances in the power industry that will need different skills to move forward,” adds Merryn. “This is something that we need to address to ensure that university graduates are equipped to meet these needs.”
Both women have a great interest in safeguarding the future of their industry.
“I don’t think electricity transmission is in the ‘sexy’ category, if you know what I mean. It’s just not seen as something that is really attractive to many people, so there is an ongoing challenge for us to sell what is good about what we do, so we can get people interested in it,” Merryn believes.
Each year, Powerlink employs a number of graduates from the wide array of engineering majors. Both Merryn and Else are passionate about encouraging students of both genders to pursue engineering degrees and ultimately to take an interest in the power engineering profession. “Engineering is all about how capable you are – regardless of your gender,” says Merryn.
When asked what they would say to young women considering an engineering degree and a future in the industry, they were both quick to reach a consensus, “Go for it – you won’t regret it. If you love being able to apply your learning to the creation of something, then study engineering.” •
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 17
The leading provider of short courses for environment professionals in AustraliaCourses are taught by leading industry practitioners and designed to keep busy professionals abreast of the latest trends, technologies and practices.
IWES is the training provider of choice with several large organisations, and we strive to continue to innovate in our course offerings and delivery. In 2011, we introduced several new courses such as ‘Coal Seam Gas Water Management’, ‘Decentralised Wastewater Treatment’, ‘Water Recycling: Design, Assessment and Optimisation’ and ‘Contaminated Site Assessment and Remediation’.
IWES will be running events in Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Perth in 2012.
For detailed course information go to www.iwes.com.au
18 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
THE ANSWER, BELIEVES Professor Margaretha Scott, will be found in an applied research model that integrates geoscience into a world-leading centre at UQ that focuses its expertise across mining engineering, rock behaviour simulation, software programming, and mine and business risk management.
Professor Scott is the new Centre Director at the W.H.Bryan Mining and Geology Research Centre (BRC), part of UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI). Working at the SMI will compliment her interest in the use of geosciences as a tool for developing sustainable industry practices and mineral policy, allowing her to make a real difference in this area for the industry she has spent the last 20 years working in.
Through the BRC, Professor Scott aims to deliver this impact and BRC is developing a number of programs to meet industry research needs. The first of these is a Deep Earth Mining program.
”This program has two themes: Resources to Reserves and Resource Expansion. The first is directed at the challenge facing the mining industry of ore reserve replacement. Being able to convert a marginal mineral resource to an ore reserve by better managing engineering risks in the early business planning stages is what this research is about.”
The second theme follows on but emphasises exploration and mining as part of the one value chain. Exploration to be effective needs to be focused not simply on discovery of mineralisation but of ore bodies that will be viable mining propositions in this new era of mining.’
HOW CAN MINING COMPANIES MORE EFFECTIVELY TACKLE ENGINEERING ISSUES, WHILST DEVELOPING HIGHER CAPACITY METHODS THAT LEAD TO BETTER AND SUSTAINABLE INDUSTRY PRACTICES?
GEOSCIENCES A TOOL in the quest for sustainability
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 19
Professor Scott acknowledges that this type of initiative requires a new approach.
“The future of mining will need forward thinking professionals – engineers, technicians and geoscientists that can work across disciplines to solve the complex challenge of meeting society’s demands for resources whilst minimising the impact on the environment.
“The hard rock mining industry is rapidly moving towards a future that will involve larger mining operations targeting deeper ore bodies with average grades lower than what are currently being mined. This will present significant technical challenges and critically, there will also be less capacity to absorb unexpected mining outcomes because of the smaller per tonne revenue margin,” Professor Scott says.
“I believe that BRC and SMI are actively ‘nurturing’ the next generation of professional staff required by industry to meet this future need.”
A University Medallist, Professor Scott graduated from UQ with a Bachelor of Science (Honours in Geology), before returning to complete her PhD at the BRC in 2000.
Professor Chris Moran, Director of the SMI, is excited about the leadership Professor Scott will provide. He says that “her focus on multi-disciplinary research linking discipline-focused researchers to develop integrated programs is the way the SMI will be making ‘step changes’ in technology and processes for industry to move towards effective and sustainable work practices.”Welcome back to UQ, Professor Scott! •
<< the future of mining will need forward thinking professionals – engineers, technicians and geoscientists that can work across disciplines to solve the complex challenge of meeting society’s demands for resources whilst minimising the impact on the environment >>
20 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
PROFESSOR NIELSEN’S TEAM of researchers is involved in a global collaboration to develop a sustainable aviation fuel industry.
The team has started a feasibility study of biofuel production from sugarcane juice, using microbial fermentation.
This will involve systems and synthetic biology to improve the performance of yeast in fermentation.
It is part of the Queensland Sustainable Jet Fuel Initiative, involving UQ, AIBN, Boeing, Virgin, Mackay Sugar Limited, Amyris, IOR Energy, GE, James Cook University, US Department of Energy and the Queensland Government.
As well as investigating fermentation of cane juice, other partners in the initiative
Engineering GOES GREENare conducting research involving oilseed and algae. It comes as global moves towards a sustainable fuel industry ramp up, with the US Navy planning to have half of the fuel used for its fleet sourced from renewable sources in 2016.
Professor Nielsen’s team has also found the key to turning sucrose from sugarcane into environmentally-friendly products as part of a collaboration with
RESEARCH IN AN EXCITING NEW AREA IS LINKING UNLIKELY
FIELDS SUCH AS QUEENSLAND SUGARCANE WITH JET FUELS
AND NEW-GENERATION PLASTICS. AUSTRALIAN
INSTITUTE FOR BIOENGINEERING AND NANOTECHNOLOGY’S
PROFESSOR LARS NIELSEN IS WORKING IN THE FIELD OF METABOLIC ENGINEERING THROUGH SYSTEMS AND
<< this research comes as global moves towards a sustainable fuel industry ramp up >>
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 21
SEAN’S RESEARCH won him a place in the final of UQ’s Three Minute Thesis competition, and he was also highly commended for his entry into the University’s Trailblazer competition, which encourages academics and students to consider the commercial potential of their ideas.
The Trailblazer competition saw Sean present a five-minute pitch to businesses and patent attorneys about using sodium borohydride to store hydrogen for use in fuel cell cars – the work of his thesis project.
It was during his UQ undergraduate studies in engineering that Sean became interested in the research field. He completed a summer internship at AIBN and later an undergraduate thesis on hydrogen production using solar energy.
“I wanted to use my chemical engineering degree to do something innovative to address energy and environmental issues. I want to make a difference in the world.”
With debate about carbon emissions and depleting fossil fuel resources,
Sean has been investigating hydrogen as an alternative transport fuel.
The challenge with hydrogen as a transport fuel is that it needs to be stored in high pressure cylinders. To compress the hydrogen takes a lot of energy, and the stored high-pressure gas is flammable. Sean’s work looks at storing the gas in sodium borohydride dissolved in water, which takes away the risk of fire, while a catalyst allows the hydrogen to be released as needed.
Sean has been working on improving the system’s hydrogen storage capacity and trying to find ways to efficiently recycle sodium borohydride using renewable sources - ensuring high costs are not a barrier.
Industry partner Control Technologies International is helping Sean to produce a demonstration system for this recycling.
“I see energy and environmental issues as a big challenge,” says Sean. “The best way to overcome this is through research and innovation” •
Passion for sustainability FUELS SUCCESS
the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the country’s foremost centre for mid to long-term strategic research and development projects.
The team identified a strain of E.coli bacteria which could use the sucrose to produce industrial products such as plastics.
Researchers have sequenced the genome of the strain “W” bacterium and created a world-first blueprint of the strain to determine how it behaved under specific conditions.
The blueprint can be used to genetically engineer the bacterium to produce bio-products from sugarcane with specific characteristics, such as plastics with particular strength or flexibility.
Metabolic engineering is the purposeful design of living organisms for producing desired chemicals and fuels and offers many advantages over conventional petrochemical production.
It enables highly specific synthesis of complex chemicals and fuels from simple sugars with minimal losses. The system is engineered at micron scale, involving single cells, readily scaled using water at room temperature and low pressure •
A PASSION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IS DRIVING PHD CANDIDATE SEAN MUIR’S INTEREST IN SOLAR ENERGY AND NEW-GENERATION FUELS FOR CARS.
ENGINEERING GRADUATE DAVID NOON NEVER IMAGINED THE IMPACT UQ TECHNOLOGY WOULD HAVE UPON THE GLOBAL MINING INDUSTRY. AS HE CAN ATTEST, DEDICATION TO ONE’S RESEARCH CAN PAY OFF IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE.
<< miners have gone home safely
to their families because of the alarms
provided by our technologies >>
from UQ LABS to GLOBAL BEST PRACTICE
WHAT STARTED OUT as a research project at The University of Queensland’s Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (ITEE), in collaboration with the Cooperative Research Centre for Sensor Signal Processing and Information Processing (CSSIP), has since become accepted as global best practice amongst multinational mining companies.
Back in 1997 when the research project began, no one imagined the impact this technology would have on the global mining industry, least of all GroundProbe’s Chief Commercial Officer David Noon.
“One of our technical specialists was on site in Western Australia when a miner came up to him one night in a bar,” says David.
“The miner said “Your radar provided the warning for me to move my excavator away from the slope, hours before it failed. There was no way of knowing that the wall was moving apart from your radar.”
“He genuinely thanked our technical specialist for saving his life because he knew that he would have died otherwise. Saving one life
provides the greatest honour. And we have saved many.”
In 1996, Dr David Noon, Professor Dennis Longstaff, Dr Glen Stickley, and PhD student Bryan Reeves began collaborating with representatives from the mining industry after identifying a need for radar technology in open cut mines.
Mining companies were seeking a remote sensing technology that would allow them to monitor the walls of the mine and detect any movement as it occurred.
“We thought to ourselves ‘We should be able to measure a centimetre of movement through use of radar technology.’ So we developed a research project that employed a radar system which could continuously measure a wall moving one centimetre or more.”
When the team conducted their research, their initial hopes of measuring one centimetre of movement in a mine wall, quailed in comparison to their final results. “When we implemented the radar system in a mine, we were able to demonstrate that we could actually measure movement in a mine wall to
22 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
Although it began as a modest research project at The University of Queensland in 1997, GroundProbe now boasts over 180 staff internationally and has since established business networks with mining organisations worldwide. Despite the international success of the organisation and technology which he is co-founder and co-inventor of, David Noon remains extremely humble.
“It is exciting to see a research idea that has made such a huge impact on the global mining industry.
“But it is even more rewarding to know that miners are able to go home to their families after work because of the warning that our radars provide prior to the collapse of a mine wall”•
0.1 of a millimetre while they were actively mining. We beat our initial target by a factor of 100.”
Having established their research boundaries, the team further refined their technology and placed it at several different mines until it recorded a collapse of a mine wall, allowing them to corroborate their data.
“We were able to detect the movement and acceleration of the wall many hours before it actually collapsed.”
Once the team had generated the data allowing them to measure the acceleration of small wall movements in a short period of time, they began to commercialise their product – the Slope Stability Radar.
The Slope Stability Radar (SSR) allows mining organisations to anticipate when the walls of the mine become unstable, and trigger an alarm to alert the miners to evacuate before a tragic accident can occur.
“This product also allows mining companies to have deeper open-pits and mine longer at the same site, as it provides the workers with peace of mind that sufficient warning will be provided should walls start to move. That in itself is worth many millions of dollars in value to the mines,” says Noon.
Before the development of the Slope Stability Radar, mining companies had to rely upon prisms attached to mine walls which had to be manually surveyed at set timing intervals.
The prisms and survey stations allowed the miners to judge the rate at which a wall was moving over a longer period of time; meanwhile, the Slope Stability Radar, developed by Noon and his fellow researchers, allows the miners to measure the entire mine walls and judge the rate of movement in real-time.
Riding on the wave of success produced by the Slope Stability Radar, GroundProbe has recently commercialised another innovative mining safety tool.
The Work Area Monitor is a mobile and easy-to-use radar integrated into a light vehicle, allowing a mine crew to set-up and monitor their own local work area while actively working. If movement is detected, this technology provides the work crew with a personal alarm to warn of a potential rock fall.
“The Work Area Monitor fills a gap in the market. Every day there are individual miners working under steep mine slopes that have no monitoring at all. The Work Area Monitor is the miner’s own safety tool to protect them within their own work area.”
So where to next?“Right now our focus is on expanding
the global footprint of our two products as the market leader – but as the mining industry continues to evolve, so will we.”
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 23
<< we were able to detect the movement and acceleration of the wall many hours before it actually collapsed >>
?WHAT’S YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT?I use computational modelling and
visual analytics to investigate complex systems in biology, neuroscience and cognition. In collaboration with information systems and engineering colleagues, insights from such systems have then been applied to the development of novel technologies.
One project develops robots that can learn natural language skills. Another project, Thinking Systems, involves understanding navigation. A third project uses information visualisations to make sense of complex hospital data.
?WHAT DOES YOUR THINKING SYSTEMS RESEARCH FOCUS ON?
Thinking Systems researchers study fundamental issues of navigation in animals and robots, including how information is transmitted, received, processed and understood. The cross-disciplinary team spans engineering, biological and social disciplines and has been funded for five years by an Australian
Research Council $3.3 million Special Research Initiative.
One of the interesting things about navigation is that people don’t just navigate physical space: We also use metaphors for navigation to make sense out of the complex world of ideas, a process we call conceptual navigation. We’ve been developing a rat-sized robot called the iRat designed to complete similar lab tasks to real rats in neuroscience studies.
?WHAT IS THE WIDER APPLICATION OF YOUR RESEARCH?
The tools and techniques developed to study real-world complex systems find use in surprising and diverse applications such as health care, teaching and learning, science communication and emergency management.
For example, studies of the complex dynamics of neural networks provide insights into both normal and abnormal brain dynamics, which could lead to better treatments for neurological conditions. Technologies developed to visualise how a conversation follows a path through concept spaces could lead to training programs for better communication skills in emergencies.
PROFESSOR JANET WILES’ RESEARCH IS CONCERNED WITH THINKING SYSTEMS AND THEIR POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS IN HEALTH AND OTHER INDUSTRIES. A PROFESSOR AT UQ’S SCHOOL OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, PROFESSOR WILES AND HER CROSS-DISCIPLINARY TEAM ARE WORKING TO ESTABLISH A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE NEURAL AND BEHAVIOURAL BASES OF THINKING SYSTEMS.
navigating how we think
?HOW IS YOUR RESEARCH HAVING AN IMPACT?
The biggest impact is undoubtedly on a generation of postdocs and students with skills in research areas that bridge technology and biology.
Robots intrigue people. We videoed one of the Lingodroids’ early conversations using DTMF (mobile phone tones) and put it on YouTube. In May this year it went viral on social media and was viewed more than 50,000 times within a month (http://goo.gl/btj3S).
The iRat – our robot rat – is being used to study how new brain cells integrate into neural networks during learning. The iRat was recently the highlight of a local primary school visit which was filmed for a National Science Week video (http://goo.gl/ex2iE).
Discursis – a conversation analysis tool which grew out of concept navigation studies – is currently being used to analyse medical consultations and interaction patterns of children with autism. It is also being used to study science communication in the media and critical incident communication during airline emergencies.
?WHERE TO NEXT?My theoretical work will continue the
investigation of spatial and temporal issues in real world complex systems.
Discursis, iRats and Lingodroids are leaving the lab and entering the world. A commercial quality version of Discursis is currently under development for release in
2012. The next generation of Lingodroid studies will create more complex concepts so they can communicate when (as well as where) things happen.
I see cross-fertilisation continuing to grow between biology and technology and new approaches to thinking systems will develop with it •
<< we’ve been developing a rat-sized robot called the iRat >>
24 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 25
DR BERNARDINO VIRDISDr Virdis has made significant contributions to the research fields of Microbial fuel cells and Extracellular electron transfer. He developed the first Microbial fuel cell process for the removal of two major contaminants of wastewater – ammonium and organics – whilst producing electric energy.
Amongst other researchers, Dr Virdis has helped move from the early concept of Microbial fuel cells, which mainly focus on electricity production, to Bioelectrochemical systems, where the capability of microorganisms to interact with electrodes is used not only to generate electricity, but also to produce important compounds such as biofuels.
Currently, Dr Virdis holds a Postdoctoral Researcher position at the Advanced
DR ZI (HELEN) HUANGDr Huang plays a key role in developing UQLIPS, a video near-duplicate retrieval system. UQLIPS is one of the earliest real-time systems in discovering near-duplicate content from large-scale video databases and continuous video streams. This system, and its related work, has led to one US patent and many top quality publications. It has a wide range of applications such as TV broadcast monitoring, online video usage monitoring, copyright infringement detection and many others. Organisations with media assets will benefit by saving enormous costs, improving service quality and protecting their intelligence properties. It also advances Australia’s intellectual leadership in copyright compliance and
DR MICHAEL POOLEDr Poole is an applied physicist who is currently working on a MRI-guided radiotherapy system for more accurate tumour targeting, and whose research focuses on the development of new hardware and techniques for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The aims of this development are to improve
DR LIGUANG WANGDr Wang’s current project is investigating gas hydrate formation and utilisation, and employs state-of-the-art surface analytical tools to explore the mechanism of gas hydrate formation and dissociation. The results will be used to develop innovative gas
benefits commercialisation of research results.
Dr Huang was awarded her PhD in 2007 and currently holds an Australia Postdoctoral Fellowship in the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. She has been working in the areas of multimedia search, complex data management and knowledge discovery.
transportation system and advanced separation technologies for Australia’s emerging coal seam gas (CSG) industry.
The current method of purifying and liquefying CSG to liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expensive, costing almost a quarter of the gas volume used in liquefaction and transport. The treatment and disposal of the produced water from CSG is also a significant issue for the CSG
industry due to water use, environmental and public health concerns. Dr Wang’s research is supported by Australian Research Council (ARC), Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) and other industrial partners. After obtaining his PhD in Mining and Minerals Engineering from Virginia Tech, USA, Dr Wang joined UQ’s School of Chemical Engineering in 2006.
MRI systems to produce images more quickly, safely and with improved resolution as well as enable entirely new MRI techniques.
To this end, much of Dr Poole’s research is related to the design, construction and testing of innovative gradient and shim coils for MRI, which further enhances UQ’s excellence in this area. Dr Poole designed the first set of gradient coils capable of acquiring conventional Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and MRI data simultaneously. PET-MRI is an exciting new technique that is expected to improve cancer staging and treatment.
He joined UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering in 2008.
WITH TALENTED STAFF AND STUDENTS SKILLED IN PROBLEM-SOLVING, AN ERA OF CHANGE AND CHALLENGE IS A TIME OF OPPORTUNITY. THE WORK OF THESE FOUR YOUNG RESEARCHERS IS TRANSFORMING THE WORLD AROUND US.
Water Management Centre at UQ and is the recipient of a UQ Early Career Researcher grant. His research interests include the study of extracellular and interspecies electron transfer, the characterisation of electrochemically active microbial aggregates, (bio)electrosynthesis, and microbial solar cells.
TURNING THEORY INTO PRACTICE
IMPROVING THE DELIVERY OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION
HAS ALWAYS BEEN A HOT TOPIC AT UQ. AS THESE
ACADEMICS WILL TELL YOU, THE EVOLUTION OF TEACHING
IS GOING A LONG WAY TO INCREASE ENGAGEMENT AND
AWARENESS OF UQ ENGINEERING STUDENTS.
26 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
THE FACULTY OF ENGINEERING,
ARCHITECTURE AND INFORMATION
TECHNOLOGY’S ASSOCIATE DEAN
(ACADEMIC), PROFESSOR CAROLINE
CROSTHWAITE, HAS WITNESSED MANY
CHANGES THROUGHOUT THE COURSE OF
HER 35 YEARS SPENT EDUCATING
ENGINEERING STUDENTS, INCLUDING
MANY AT UQ. PROFESSOR CROSTHWAITE
IS PASSIONATE THAT ENGINEERING
EDUCATION SHOULD EVOLVE ALONG
WITH INDUSTRY TRENDS.
DIRECTOR OF FIRST YEAR ENGINEERING,
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR LYDIA
KAVANAGH AND DIRECTOR OF
TEACHING AND LEARNING
PROFESSOR CARL REIDSEMA HAVE
FOCUSED THEIR EFFORTS ON ONE OF
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING
EDUCATORS WORLDWIDE – STUDENT
ENGAGEMENT – AND ARE ENSURING
STUDENTS DON’T JUST KNOW THE
RIGHT ANSWERS, BUT ARE ASKING THE
THE TERM ‘HANDS-ON LEARNING’ is not one often linked to courses offered at a university level but, for Lydia and Carl, it has been the driving force behind the radical overhaul they have brought to the first-year engineering curriculum in 2011.
ENGG1000, previously a theoretical and paper-based design course, is compulsory for all first-year students. In line with professional engineering practice, students were required to submit a paper-based report of a design they had developed in response to an engineering problem. However, a lack of hands-on learning was proving to be a major problem with the course – students were not engaging with the work, resulting in dissatisfaction and
FOR THOSE OF US who are involved in the university education of engineers it is an exciting time. Curriculum design and teaching approaches are now better informed than ever by past and present research into student learning and the nature of engineering practice. Examples of questions being investigated by engineering academics at UQ and other engineering schools around the world are:
• What is fundamental knowledge in engineering?
• How do students develop engineering problem solving skills and design capabilities?
• How do hands-on learning experiences such as project work, internships and work placements contribute to professional development?
• How can theory and practice be better connected and integrated into the university curriculum?
Interest in these questions has been prompted by the recent history of rapid change we have witnessed within the profession, the growing diversity and ever increasing complexity of technology and engineering work, and what this means for the education of future professional
sometimes a lesser understanding of basic engineering principles.
In 2010, Lydia and Carl were charged with turning the course around.
“There was a lack of engagement between the students and ENGG1000. They had to study this course, but many of the students were questioning why and felt like they weren’t gaining anything,” says Lydia. >
<< curriculum design and teaching approaches are now better informed than ever by past and present research >>
<< ENGG1000 now requires students to act like engineers from their very first day >>
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 27
engineers. And also, what this means for us as the educators. We need to be able to prepare graduates who know what it is to be an engineer and are ready to make the transition into the workplace.
During the 20th century engineering degrees changed considerably in terms of the relative emphasis on theory and connecting theory with practice. The 1940’s heralded the rapid growth during the next few decades of the engineering sciences and the strong commitment by engineering educators to engineering science and the associated reduction in practice opportunities in the curriculum. >
> For instance in 1926 advanced level engineering students at UQ typically spent three-quarters of their 35 hours (minimal) per week of lessons in practice related activities, including laboratories and tutorials.
The only disciplines available were civil engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, mining engineering and chemical engineering. Meanwhile in 2011 the typical engineering student lesson time is around 20 hours per week, of which up to half could be related to practice. Furthermore at UQ, we now offer 18 different engineering majors, and options to combine these as part of a dual degree. The 1980’s saw the start of Australia’s move towards making university education more widely available and witnessed significant growth in student numbers. In the last decade the number of engineering students at UQ has doubled with just over 1,000 students enrolled in the first year of a Bachelor of Engineering at UQ in 2011. These large numbers coupled
with easy access to information and communications technologies has led to an increasing reliance on autonomous learning and use of blended learning, whereby on-campus as well as on-line environments have become an essential part of the student learning experience.
During the last decade, I have been privileged to be part of a team of dedicated engineers involved in significant innovation and development in teaching and learning in engineering. Notable achievements at UQ have been the implementation of project-centered learning in a number of engineering disciplines and in the first year, the development of nationally acclaimed resources that support student team-based learning and project work, and a substantial orientation and first year program to assist first year students with the transition to university and engineering studies. This includes an on-line diagnostic test of all new engineering students that provides an individual report on fundamental knowledge, skills and key concepts and the alignment with those needed for academic success. Directions to relevant assistance and resources are also given. A pleasing outcome of this work has been the reduction in the percentage of first year engineering students leaving university studies; our engineering program has one of the lowest attrition rates across the university.
> turning THEORY into PRACTICE
curriculum design (continued)
28 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
Another outcome of our concerted effort in developing high quality teaching and learning in engineering has been the success of UQ engineers winning in recent years four highly competitive national grants. These national grants provide further resources to lead teaching and learning innovation in engineering education (see sidebar).
The most recent engineering educational initiative we have planned for UQ in 2012 is the introduction of a 5 year integrated Bachelor and Master of Engineering that will offer students the option of extended studies. This 5 year degree program will run in parallel with the 4 year Bachelor of Engineering with the first 3 years being common to both degrees. The 5 year program will be introduced progressively across the disciplines starting in 2012.
I believe that UQ is well placed to continue as a future leader in engineering education and to develop the next generation of engineering leaders. As the engineering industry evolves, so do we. Our students are our future, so it is vitally important we ensure that they are equipped to deal with the issues which will face our nation and world in the years to come. Having witnessed firsthand the calibre of our current students, I have no doubt that the future of engineering is in capable hands •
> Bearing this disassociation in mind, Lydia and Carl redesigned the course to encompass ‘hands-on learning,’ providing students with an introduction to engineering through a multi-disciplinary team-based project requiring them to build a prototype.
“ENGG1000 now requires students to act like engineers from their very first day,” Carl says. “It allows them to start thinking and acting like engineers because it generates conversation, ideas, and problems that need to be solved.”
Now known as ENGG1100, students learn how to apply professional engineering concepts and issues to their designs such as: sustainability, safety, estimation, materials selection, decision making, project management, information literacy, communication, and ethics.
“The students are required to pick one of four projects which they then have to design and develop as a team. In 2011, these were a water purification process, an automated watercraft, a deployable bridge, and a longwall powered roof support,” says Lydia. “They are given a strict budget to adhere to when sourcing materials – it has been astounding how
resourceful they are and to see the lengths they go to in order to get materials.”
At the end of the semester, each team’s project is examined and tested against other team’s prototypes based on design, construction, cost and performance.
“We had two industry-based companies come onto campus to test some of the student projects, which was fantastic because it showed the students that the work they just spent the semester doing was actually applicable to these industries. Next year, I would like to get even more industry organisations on board to come and test the first-year projects,” says Carl.
“The feedback we’ve received on the new program so far has been that the students have really enjoyed [it],” says Lydia. “In terms of student engagement and enjoyment, I think it’s safe to say that it’s risen from 40% in previous years to 90% this year.”
The revamp of the course has helped students to learn how to operate as a team and with this has come a much greater appreciation of time and people management. But the most important developmental aspect has been allowing students to ‘get their hands dirty’ on projects from initial design stage through to final construction of a tangible product.
The transformation of this course through the ‘hands-on’ learning principles pursued by Lydia and Carl is ensuring a more industry-aware student who is having their passion for learning re-ignited.
See the students building and testing the longwall powered roof support: http://goo.gl/vP1WT •
THE CALIBRE OF OUR TEACHING
STAFF AND THEIR WORK HAS ALSO
BEEN RECOGNISED THROUGH
AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY TEACHING
• 1 x Prime Minister’s award for university teacher of the year
Ian Cameron, 2003
• 3 x Awards for teaching excellence
Ian Cameron, 2003
Peter Sutton, 2007
Lydia Kavanagh, 2011
• 2 x Awards for programs that enhance learning
Project Centred Curriculum in Chemical Engineering, 2005
School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering – Mining Education Australia, 2010
• 4 x Citations for outstanding contributions to student learning
Mehmet Kizil, 2008
Tapan Saha, 2009
John Simmons, 2010
Liza O’Moore, 2011
hands-on learning (continued)
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 29
YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED COORDINATES AN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ORGANISATION, DESIGNS RACING CARS AND HAS BEEN NAMED 2010 YOUNG QUEENSLANDER OF THE YEAR, ALL WHILE COMPLETING HER FINAL YEAR OF A BACHELOR OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING.
? YOU WERE BORN IN SUDAN?I was born in Sudan’s capital city
Khartoum. We moved to Australia when I was two, so I consider myself Aussie, but we go back to Sudan every few years to see family.
? WHAT’S IT LIKE TO GO BACK THERE? It’s funny because I didn’t ever really
think of it as a big deal. It never really occurred to me that it was any different until people started mentioning it to me or when I’d show them photos and they’d say “that is so African”. It was then that I started to realise that it is so foreign to a lot of people.
? HAS YOUR BACKGROUND INFLUENCEDYOUR SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS?
I think the fact that I visit Sudan every few years means that I have seen a lot of things which most people my age haven’t. I am fortunate to have been raised in Australia and to have all of the opportunities I have had – I think this makes me feel responsible and obliged almost to give back to society. I feel giving back is part of my responsibility and role as a person. It’s something that I don’t even see as a question – it’s just the right thing for me to do.
? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE UQ? UQ really is the premier place to study
and I wanted the best of the best that I could get here. UQ has been fantastic for me. I’ve joined the UQ Racing team which I’m managing at the moment. But I also love the small things; coming into uni every day and having a big group of mates and being part of the engineering community.
? CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT UQRACING?
UQ Racing is our formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team. We design and build a car and race it at the end of every year against other universities in Australia. We’re hoping for a top ten finish this year. I’m actually designing the chassis for next year’s car as my thesis, although I’m graduating this year so I’m not going to see it compete which is totally depressing!
I always start speeches with “I’m going to tell you three things. It’s called two truths and one lie.” The two things that are true are that I design cars and I’ve been doing boxing for four years. The lie is that I was born in Australia. People never know what to think. They look at me and think “What?! No, she wouldn’t design cars.”
? WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR ROLE AS TEAM MANAGER?
I came into the role firstly wanting to develop the car technically but also to create that team dynamic. It’s really about creating that motorsport community, rather than it being a purely technical exercise.
? YOU ARE THE FOUNDER OF YOUTH WITHOUT BORDERS...
I started it when I was 16 after I attended the Asia Pacific City Summit. I was complaining to my mum that all these organisations existed but they weren’t working together and she said “Why don’t you do something about it?” So I went back to the summit and I convinced three other people that it was a really good idea. It came down to finding those first few followers and finding that support network and then starting with a project. Essentially, the whole concept is empowering young people to work together on projects that have a positive change for their community.
? HAS YOUTH WITHOUT BORDERS HAD ANY MAJOR PROJECTS LATELY?
Yes, the Spark Engineering Camp. It was a five day residential camp solely for high school kids in grades 10-12 from migrant, indigenous, low socioeconomic or refugee backgrounds. We really just wanted to show them what possibilities exist in uni and the fact that yes they might not have considered uni before, yes no one in their family might have gone to uni, but it is an opportunity for them. Quite a few of the students said they hadn’t even considered uni and were now considering studying engineering.
?WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO WHEN YOUGRADUATE?
I’m applying for postgraduate scholarships to study social sciences overseas. I think that my strength will be that I can come to the political science arena with a completely different background, and provide a different perspective. I think I’m at the stage where I just want to be challenged that little bit further; there is so much to learn still •
<< I feel giving back is part of my responsibility and role as a person >>
30 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
ENGINEERS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO CHANGE THE WORLD – A FACT WHICH HASN’T ESCAPED THE ATTENTION OF A GROUP OF UNDERGRADUATE FOURTH YEAR ENGINEERING STUDENTS.
“OUR LONG-TERM FOCUS is towards eradicating or reducing the cases of cholera and other diarrheal related diseases, particularly among children. We hope to raise a new generation of healthy, aware and responsible communities,” Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering student and Operations Manager of UQ’s Innovate Team (UQIT), Mr Daniel Gillick said.
As part of 2011’s Year of Humanitarian Engineering and the Make it So campaign, Daniel Gillick, Andhika Hariyadi, Declan Jones, Thao Luu and Curtis McIntyre intend to achieve this goal by ensuring a floating village in South East Asia has access to a sanitary waste management system.
As the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia, Tonle Sap is home to a number of communities who live in floating villages on and around it, who do not have access to appropriate lavatory facilities. This has resulted in widespread contamination of the lake and a range of health issues affecting locals within the region.
In collaboration with Engineers
Without Borders (EWB) and Live and Learn Environmental Education, UQ’s Innovate Team (UQIT), intend to rectify this situation through the development of a floating bio-digester capture and storage unit which will enable the local Phat Sanday community to produce useable methane gas and fertilizer from their sanitary waste.
Senior Lecturer, Dr Timothy Nicholson said that the Make it So Campaign, in conjunction with courses undertaken at UQ, has allowed the students to work on the conceptual design of a new cutting-edge engineering product.
“The bio-digester project involves students in both technical and business oriented aspects of development such as clarification of customer requirements, formal product specifications, cost estimation and risk assessment methods, project management plans and business skills,” Dr Nicholson said.
The Make it So Campaign began as a competition in 2010, allowing people to share their visions about what they wanted to see “made so” by engineering teams. UQ’s bio-digester project is a direct result from an idea which was submitted during last year’s Make it So Campaign.
Mr Gillick said that the Make it So campaign has been a great opportunity for the students to
UQ’s Engineering students MAKE IT SO IN CAMBODIA
increase public awareness of the situation in Cambodia and the role engineering plays in improving society and the humanities.
“If the project is successful, we hope in the short term, a shift of attitudes and behaviours of locals will arise as they begin to adopt and continually use our project.
“We hope that greater awareness on poor sanitary practices and a collective social responsibility is brought about by community engagement with UQ, EWB and Live and Learn and through interaction with our product – these are important steps towards sustaining any long-term impacts.
“It is hoped that through an increase presence within the media, new investors such as NGOs, industry and philanthropists will fund both initial and ongoing costs incurred from implementing and operating a bio-digester in Phat Sanday,” Mr Gillick said •
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 31
<< we hope to raise a new generation of healthy, aware and responsible communities >>
EVERYONE WILL LEAVE A LEGACY.BE REMEMBERED FOR YOUR PASSION.
Making a charitable gift in your Will ensures that what you have valued during your
lifetime will continue to grow and be cherished through the lives of others. A bequest
to UQ Engineering has the potential to transform the lives of future generations
through supporting a life-changing education and world-changing research.
CONTACT Jonathan Cosgrove, Director of Advancement
phone +61 7 3365 4302 email [email protected]