BREAKING NEW GROUNDSafer mines and saving lives with UQ Alumnus
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ingenityISSUE 1, 2011
ingenuity MAGAZINEEDITORIAL TEAMJonathan Cosgrove Garry Bain
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
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>Due for completion in 2013, The Advanced
Engineering Building will enable research-led
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< COVER PHOTO: David Noon, GroundProbes Chief Commercial
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. Im 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 Ministers 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 NewsWhats been happening at UQ Engineering in 2011?
08 A leader of nationsAustralia needs an innovation revolution
to solve the worlds greatest challenges
10 Need for speedLeading the world in Hypersonics research
14 Women in powerLeading the way often means just getting on
18 The quest for sustainabilityTackling engineering issues to
improve industry practice
20 Engineering goes greenSugarcane, jet fuels and new generation
22 Global best practiceCover story: From UQ labs to global best
24 Navigating how we thinkMaking sense of the complex world of
25 Emerging researchersThe research work of today will transform
the world of tomorrow
26 Turning theory into practiceThe evolution of engineering
30 Inspiring othersStudent Yassmin-Abdel Magied: leading the way
for others is all in a days work
31 Make it soEngineering students are improving lives in
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
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
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
UniQuest, UQs 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
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 Governments 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
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
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 Nanotechnologys (AIBN) Professor Mark Kendall to
continue his pioneering research and development of the
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
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 Nanopatchs vaccination team were awarded
the Australian Research Council Eureka Prize for Excellence in
Research by an Interdisciplinary Team for their needle-free vaccine
This award recognises the potential of the Nanopatch to
revolutionise vaccination methods in Australia and around the
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 crops 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 years Alumni awards have highlighted the high calibre of
UQs 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
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 UQs 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 Newcrests
$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.
Newcrests Executive General Manager People and Communications,
Debra Stirling, said that Newcrest had a long and rewarding
partnership with UQ.
Todays students are tomorrows 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 caps lining that monitors the fatigue levels
of the mining machine operators via their brainwave
If a potentially dangerous fatigue level is reached, a warning
message is sent to the drivers in-cab display, alerting them of the
need to stop, rest and refresh.
UQs 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-Chancellors 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 UQS ALUMNI AWARDS
6 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
Awardees benefit from PHILANTHROPIC GIFTAs part of UQs 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
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
companys 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 Educations Undersecretary Professional Aseri Yalangono
by Dr Simon Albert on behalf of UQs 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
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
The camp is for those students who wouldnt usually get a chance
to attend this type of program, or those who have the potential to
come to university and study engineering but havent 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
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, Australias prospects for prosperity look bright.
But as Australians, we must think beyond the near termpast
fiscal quarters and business cyclesand consider this countrys 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.
Australias 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
Consider our economic relationship with China. Chinas 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 worlds quarry or Chinas miner.
Commodities markets are cyclical and volatile. And other nations
can make huge purchasesor none at allaccording to their own
Though Australias 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
countryhowever lucky it iscannot 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 Australias resources below ground can be equaledor exceededby
our resources above ground. We must unlock our intellectual
resources along with our natural ones.
What I envision is an innovation and advanced manufacturing
Innovation economies dont just react to the global economythey
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 worlds
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 countrys economy with a comprehensive,
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 needspure water, lower carbon emissions,
faster and more effective smart phones. This is the kind of economy
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 WORLDS GREATEST CHALLENGES ARE
TO BE SOLVED.
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 Australias shores, so does an
enormous opportunity. Everythingfrom your house
to your car to this paper and the ink on itis 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. Thats 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 measuresfrom reserving natural gas, to
changing immigration policy, to investing in the manufacturing
industrycan 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
to the countrys future. It can be investing far more, alongside
the private sector, in developing and scaling up these
If Australia can build up the manufacturing and innovation
capacity in its economy, I believe it can be a pioneer in solving
the worlds 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 leadershipand an abiding
commitment. Its 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 SPEEDHypersnic: speed equal to or exceeding 5 x the
speed of sound
Scrmjets: air-breathing engines capable of travelling at
hypersonic speeds, greater than Mach 5
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 11
LEADING THE WORLDS UNIVERSITIES IN SCRAMJET RESEARCH AND
PLANETARY EXPLORATION, UQ IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF AUSTRALIAS
HYPERSONICS ACTIVITY. BUT AS PROFESSOR RUSSELL BOYCE FROM UQS
CENTRE FOR HYPERSONICS ADMITS, THE NATIONS 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
Australias first Professor of Space Engineering, UQs Emeritus
Professor Ray Stalker began studying scramjets in 1982, leading to
the development of UQs Centre for Hypersonics in 1997 and cementing
the Universitys position as an international leader in the
For almost 15 years, the Centre has provided international
leadership and collaboration on major international projects, a
high-level of fundamental and
Hypersnic: speed equal to or exceeding 5 x the speed of
Scrmjets: 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
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
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
well-established industries related to hypersonics, Australia
was slow to gather momentum. In the 1980s, the former British
Aerospace Australia acted as the nations 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, Australias hypersonics industry has slowly
Says Professor Boyce, Theres still a long way to go, but its
The establishment of the HyShot program at UQs Centre for
Hypersonics several years ago resulted in DSTO becoming heavily
involved with the University and Australias stake in the
hypersonics industry. This collaboration resulted in the rapid
growth and expansion of the countrys hypersonics
industry, which was further accelerated by the Australian
Governments 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 nations 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 worlds first successful ground tests to fly a
scramjet in 1993, in UQs 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 Universitys 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 Universitys 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
Sciences 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
Progress in the project, which is now at the halfway stage, has
been excellent and has continued UQs position as a world leader in
this area, he says.
Funded by a $5million grant from the Commonwealth Governments
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 Universitys success in the hypersonics area is based
on staff and student innovations and its unique world-class ground
test facilities. The Centres projects also fund the research of
many PhD students at UQ, as well as a number of students at partner
Exposure to the ground-breaking work being conducted at UQs
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 UQS 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 Centres
Director, Professor Morgan is able to transfer this planetary
research directly to the field of hypersonics.
Leader of UQs 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 DMTCs $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
PROFESSOR DAVID MEE is also a member of UQs 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 worlds first flight test of
supersonic combustion the process used in scramjets. This
achievement put Australia at the forefront of scramjet
> Merryn York
> 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
But this has done little to deter UQ alumni and engineering
pioneers Else Shepherd and Merryn York who are, respectively,
Powerlink Queenslands 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 were fortunate
in the engineering profession that were work driven, not
personality driven, Else says. So the fact that youre 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 Mens Club. It wasnt 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 dont
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 companys Chair of
She makes a point of referring to herself as Chairman. Its just
the title of my role. I dont 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 Queenslands 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
Initially employing 400 people from the Queensland Electricity
Commission, Powerlink staff numbers have since more than doubled in
size. Under Elses nearly 17 year guidance as Chair of the Board,
Powerlinks 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
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 Australias Top 25 Most Influential Female
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
> Elses 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
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
Being a woman has never been an issue for me. The one really
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
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 dont 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 Queenslands 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 theres
all the mining companies
about engineers is that at the end of the day, what theyre
really interested in is the work that you do. If you are capable of
doing the work then there is never an issue.
Elses experiences mirror those of Merryns, 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
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
EN IN POWER
16 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
that require power connection, so were having to take our lines
Both women are also very aware of the need for the industry to
effectively communicate with its customers and the wider
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 well 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
Both women have a great interest in safeguarding the future of
I dont think electricity transmission is in the sexy category,
if you know what I mean. Its 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 wont 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 UQs 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 societys
demands for resources whilst minimising the impact on the
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
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!
20 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
PROFESSOR NIELSENS 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 Nielsens 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 NANOTECHNOLOGYS
PROFESSOR LARS NIELSEN IS WORKING IN THE FIELD OF METABOLIC
ENGINEERING THROUGH SYSTEMS AND
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011 21
SEANS RESEARCH won him a place in the final of UQs Three Minute
Thesis competition, and he was also highly commended for his entry
into the Universitys Trailblazer competition, which encourages
academics and students to consider the commercial potential of
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
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
Sean has been investigating hydrogen as an alternative transport
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. Seans 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 systems hydrogen storage
capacity and trying to find ways to efficiently recycle sodium
borohydride using renewable sources - ensuring high costs are not a
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
Passion for sustainability FUELS SUCCESS
the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST),
the countrys 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
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 MUIRS 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 ONES RESEARCH CAN PAY OFF IN MORE WAYS THAN
from UQ LABS to GLOBAL BEST PRACTICE
WHAT STARTED OUT as a research project at The University of
Queenslands 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 GroundProbes Chief Commercial Officer David
One of our technical specialists was on site in Western
Australia when a miner came up to him one night in a bar, says
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
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
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
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
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 miners 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
?WHATS 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
dont 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. Weve 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
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 UQS 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
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
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)
I see cross-fertilisation continuing to grow between biology and
technology and new approaches to thinking systems will develop with
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
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 Australias 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 Wangs 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
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
transportation system and advanced separation technologies for
Australias 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 Wangs 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
UQs 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
To this end, much of Dr Pooles research is related to the
design, construction and testing of innovative gradient and shim
coils for MRI, which further enhances UQs 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 UQs 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
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
TECHNOLOGYS 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 DONT 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
What is fundamental knowledge in engineering?
How do students develop engineering problem solving skills and
How do hands-on learning experiences such as project work,
internships and work placements contribute to professional
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
sometimes a lesser understanding of basic engineering
In 2010, Lydia and Carl were charged with turning the course
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 werent gaining anything,
says Lydia. >
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
During the 20th century engineering degrees changed considerably
in terms of the relative emphasis on theory and connecting theory
with practice. The 1940s 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 1980s saw the start of Australias 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
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 P
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
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
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
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,
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 teams project is examined and
tested against other teams 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 weve 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 its safe to say that its
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
See the students building and testing the longwall powered roof
THE CALIBRE OF OUR TEACHING
STAFF AND THEIR WORK HAS ALSO
BEEN RECOGNISED THROUGH
AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITY TEACHING
1 x Prime Ministers 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
4 x Citations for outstanding contributions to student
Mehmet Kizil, 2008
Tapan Saha, 2009
John Simmons, 2010
Liza OMoore, 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 Sudans 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
? WHATS IT LIKE TO GO BACK THERE? Its funny because I didnt 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 Id show them photos and theyd say that is so African. It
was then that I started to realise that it is so foreign to a lot
? 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 havent. 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. Its something that I
dont even see as a question its just the right thing for me to
? 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. Ive joined the UQ Racing team which Im
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. Were hoping for a top ten finish this year. Im
actually designing the chassis for next years car as my thesis,
although Im graduating this year so Im not going to see it compete
which is totally depressing!
I always start speeches with Im going to tell you three things.
Its called two truths and one lie. The two things that are true are
that I design cars and Ive 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 wouldnt design
? 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. Its 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
werent working together and she said Why dont 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 hadnt even
considered uni and were now considering studying engineering.
?WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO WHEN YOUGRADUATE?Im 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 Im at the stage where I just want to
be challenged that little bit further; there is so much to learn
30 INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
ENGINEERS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO CHANGE THE WORLD A FACT WHICH
HASNT ESCAPED THE ATTENTION OF A GROUP OF UNDERGRADUATE FOURTH YEAR
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 UQs Innovate Team (UQIT), Mr Daniel
As part of 2011s 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
In collaboration with Engineers
Without Borders (EWB) and Live and Learn Environmental
Education, UQs 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
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
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. UQs bio-digester project is a direct result
from an idea which was submitted during last years Make it So
Mr Gillick said that the Make it So campaign has been a great
opportunity for the students to
UQs 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
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
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
through supporting a life-changing education and world-changing
CONTACT Jonathan Cosgrove, Director of Advancement
phone +61 7 3365 4302 email [email protected]