AUSTRALIA'S MOST
INNOVATIVE ENGINEERS

Innovation comes from the artistic side of engineering – solving a problem in a way that hasn’t been done before. It might be beautiful or elegant. It might make you stop and think about how you can approach things differently.

Here we profile 30 of Australia’s most innovative engineers and highlight the ways they are changing the profession and the world.

What makes for an innovative engineer?

At the beginning of the year, we invited engineers to nominate themselves or their peers for this list. To keep it current, we insisted the projects they nominated had been worked on in the past two years and had not been included in this list previously.

Applicants had to explain what their project was, the problem it solved, the benefits it offered, why it was innovative and the role they played individually on the project. Our panel of eminent judges then pored over all the applications to select the winners in each category. We are very grateful for their contribution to the process.

Building & Construction

Acoustics, bridges and data are the sources of innovation in this category.

John Hilton

John Hilton

Jeffrey van Zetten

Jeffrey van Zetten

Neil Mackenzie

Neil Mackenzie

John Hilton, Design Director (Bridges), Aurecon, BE (Civil), University of Sydney

BRIDGE-BUILDING BREAKTHROUGHS

John Hilton is nominated for two innovations: the Umax girder and the A-bridge. The first was developed for the Warrell Creek to Nambucca Heads Pacific Highway Upgrade project on the NSW north coast. It allows for spans of up to 48 m (simply supported) or 62 m (continuous); improved safety on erection due to flat soffit horizontal at the pier/abutment support points and vertical orientation once in place; and substantially reduced tonnage of pre-stressed concrete required for a given span.

This means fewer girders are used, generally requiring two for a typical two-lane twin bridge that normally requires five conventional Super Ts. The shorter construction times, substantial cost savings and safer, more stable work environments are further benefits of the Umax configuration.

The A-bridge is an original modular bridge system comprising reinforced and pre-stressed concrete elements. It can be used to replace deteriorated timber bridges comprising one or two-lane structures with spans up to 12 m, and for new two-lane bridges in country areas, with spans up to 24 m.

It opens the potential of removing existing freight and weight restrictions, which can severely limit access to remote rural communities, particularly in times of environmental disaster. His employer, Aurecon, is so confident in the bridge’s future application prospects, it has patented its intellectual property.

“Sometimes it’s tempting to want to change a concept simply for the sake of change; to be seen as ‘innovative’,” says Hilton.

“But in my experience, these aren’t usually the best ideas to run with. Genuine innovation comes from applying your thinking to an established way of doing things that is really ripe for change, and providing real innovation in construction cost saving, speed of construction or function.”

Jeffrey Van Zetten, Head of Engineering and Design, NEXTDC, BE (Mech), RMIT  

NEXTDC B2 DATA CENTRE

In 2017 NEXTDC launched its B2 data centre in Brisbane, which it says is the world’s first data centre with N+1 Fault Tolerance IP-Bus, and the first APAC colocation facility to receive Tier IV Certification of Constructed Facility (TCCF) from Uptime Institute, the world’s leading data centre certification organisation.

Van Zetten visited factories and data centres across Europe and the US to contribute to product development. The key to his design is its fault tolerant segregated differential protected Isolated Parallel Bus and Rotary UPS which uses 4.5 t rotating kinetic energy storage in helium gas with magnetic bearings to minimise friction and eliminates the need for hundreds of tonnes of lead acid batteries that traditional UPS  waste every four years.

He has been awarded an Australian Innovation Patent for dynamic air flow controlled directly by the server rack loads to optimise the differential/return air temperatures and achieve optimum energy efficiency from dynamic indirect economy cycle free cooling also with automatic hot aisle occupancy control.

“Downtime risks stability of our society’s infrastructure and economy.”

Rather than demolish the existing building, Van Zetten’s design recycled it, saving  embedded carbon and waste. Project delivery time was reduced from a 12-18 month new build, to just 10 months. The project cost of DC fitout was reduced by 15 to 20 per cent for $/MW vs previous designs.

Van Zetten says data centre outage in this digital age can cripple government departments, health/emergency services and businesses with risks to life and massive losses for businesses.

“With global internet traffic set to triple in five years, ‘always on’ is no longer an option,” he says.

“Downtime risks stability of our society’s infrastructure and economy.”

Dr Neil Mackenzie, Technical Director, Aurecon, BE (Mech), University of Adelaide 

INVISIBLE SOUND

Queensland Governor Paul de Jersey, a former Chief Justice, has described the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law as the “most important public building to be erected in Brisbane for a century”.

The 60,000 m² building boasts 42 courtrooms and 67 judicial chambers. It was designed using a palette of few materials – concrete, timber and glass – all of which reflect sound. This made the task of controlling acoustics within spaces critical for speech intelligibility very challenging.

Neil Mackenzie’s solution was to use localised, novel loudspeakers mounted in the floor to provide a low level of sound reinforcement. Because of their position in the floor, they need to be extremely robust given the potential exposure to liquids, dust, and impacts. The design is essentially a flat board with a transducer bonded to the rear.

This transducer imparts bending waves in the plate which then radiates sound (conventional loudspeakers use oscillating cones to displace air generating sound). The type and size of plate, the edge support of the plate, and location of transducers on the plate all contribute to the quality and intensity of sound generated.

“I developed the loudspeaker, from concept through developed design, fabrication drawings, testing and production of over 400 loudspeakers to be installed within the QEII Courts within a three-month period,” says Mackenzie.  

“This involved importing appropriate panels and transducers, sourcing other materials from local Adelaide companies, and working with an electronics component manufacturer in Adelaide.”

Community

The engineers in this category were working in recycling, STEM education and virtual reality.

Dr Ben Horan, Associate Professor of Mechatronics, Deakin University, PhD (Mechatronics), Deakin 

VeRITy – VR LABOUR SIMULATOR

It’s difficult to train student midwives and other medical students on what contractions during labour feel like, because pregnant women don’t go into labour on cue. Dr Ben Horan and his team have developed a low-cost, robust haptic technology allowing midwifery and medical students to feel simulated contractions while immersed in a realistic clinical virtual reality (VR) environment.

The VeRITy combines a VR headset and a constructed form of a pregnant female figure, including a skin-like membrane over a haptic stomach which ‘contracts’. The software allows instructors to systematically program a progression of uterine contractions that may occur during a woman’s labour. By placing their hand on the ‘woman’s’ abdomen, students can feel the duration, intensity and regularity of contractions to develop vital knowledge and skills to determine the distinct differences between latent and active labour.

Horan says the VeRITy simulator creates a training experience that includes clinical distractions and the realistic experience of trying to locate the right place on the woman’s abdomen to press, feel and diagnose contractions during labour. The immersive ‘birthing suite’ allows problem-focused learning to occur. The VR graphics establish an authentic maternity environment, presenting students with varying scenarios, exposing them to the woman, her partner, the birthing setting and environmental distractors.

“This project is a very exciting one that shows the potential of VR and the value of interdisciplinary research projects.”

Darren Lomman, Managing Director, Greenbatch, BE (Mech), UWA 

PLASTIC REPROCESSING

Sometimes innovative ideas come from taking two different problems and finding a combined win-win solution. The genesis for Darren Lomman’s idea was reading that, by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. When he looked into plastic recycling facilities in Western Australia (WA), he was shocked to find there were none.

“This means not a single piece of plastic you or I have ever put in our recycling bin has ever been recycled here in WA.”

“Instead, this waste plastic is sold on the international waste market. The majority of which is bought by waste incinerators, which emit 30 times more pollution than burning coal. The rest ends up in our landfills and oceans.”

He decided to create a system that would convert waste PET plastic bottles into filament for use in 3D printers. This involved coming up with a technique to efficiently convert the recycled material into filament as well as establishing networks for collecting the waste plastic. This was done through schools, scout groups, Rotary clubs and commercial partners (via CSR). Rather than running it as a commercial venture, they have set Greenbatch up as a social enterprise, which leverages the container deposit scheme to then distribute the filament back to the schools for free.

Lomman says the project has many environmental benefits in addition to reducing the amount of plastic going into landfills and the ocean. The energy needed to make the product from recycled material is around 30 per cent of that needed to make it using raw ingredients, plus the energy they use in the plant is renewable (solar and batteries with gas cogeneration as backup).

“We are using treated wastewater for the washing of the plastic, so no fresh water is needed,” he says.

“This makes us not only carbon neutral but carbon positive.

Felicity Furey, Associate, Ontoit, BE (Civil), QUT

POWER OF ENGINEERING

In 2012 Felicity Furey and Jillian Kenny combined with Engineers Australia, Queensland University of Technology and AECOM to deliver a one-off event for school students about the opportunities available through engineering careers. Furey and Kenny turned this idea into a not-for-profit called Power of Engineering dedicated to attracting women and girls, regional and Indigenous students into the profession.

“We do this by running free one-day events for students in years nine and 10 to show students how they can change the world with engineering,” says Furey.

“Since our first event in 2012 we have reached more than 7000 students. On average 75 per cent of students who were a ‘no’ before the day change to a ‘yes’.”

She says there are four key elements to the program. The first is using real world examples to demonstrate how engineers make a difference in the real world.

Hands-on workshops also give realistic demonstrations of the work of an engineer, and workshop facilitators and inspiring speakers provide positive role models. The final element is the use of language designed to attract girls to engineering.

“The language is critical,” says Furey.

“Words that appeal to men are verbs – analyse data, write code, build bridges. For girls, these words make them feel like ‘that’s not for me’. Instead we need to talk about engineering as a profession for people who are creative, adaptable, organised or curious and then talk about what engineers do.”

The organisation partners with a number of universities and companies and, in 2017, over 60 companies ran site tours as part of the event program.

“This has benefited the organisations we partner with to reach students, engage their staff and open up the conversation about diversity,” she says.

Dr Ben Horan

Dr Ben Horan

Darren Lomman

Darren Lomman

Felicity Furey

Felicity Furey

Consulting

Our innovative consultants are working on drones, geotechnical surveys and seawalls.

Dr Matthew Barnes, Principal Coastal Engineer, BMT, PhD (Coastal Eng), University of Queensland

TRIGGER-BASED COAST MANAGEMENT

As a lifelong beach goer, Matt Barnes is knows the value of coastal spaces in the Australian lifestyle. However, in his professional role as Principal Coastal Engineer, he recognised a conflict between the community’s needs and protection of the built environment.

“Development approval frameworks are static processes, designed to commit an action at a point in time, which is not well suited to managing coastal hazards where the timing and magnitude of impacts are uncertain,” he says.

“Hard engineering works, such as seawalls that protect against coastal erosion or inundation, are perceived to decrease environmental and social values in coastal zones. This leads to a desire to delay hard engineering works and instead maintain coastal assets and values using ‘soft’ techniques.”

To address these issues, Barnes developed a new approach that’s trigger-based and can work within the existing DA system to provide more certainty to councils.

It has been applied to DAs for seawalls to protect development in urban areas. Site-based engineering and planning studies have forecast changes in shoreline position from storm erosion and sea level rise are likely to impact assets in the future. However, the timing and magnitude of impacts is not certain and might not eventuate for several decades.

Rather than constructing the seawall while the risk to assets is low, the DA would instead define the preferred seawall footprint, set triggers for when detailed design should be completed, and include further triggers for when construction works can commence.

Prior to the seawall triggers being reached, the DA supports soft engineering works, including dune management and beach nourishment, to mitigate the risk to land-based assets and maintain the social and recreational values of the beach. This time can also be used to secure funding for future capital works.

Dr Peteralv Brabers, Geological Engineer, OEMG Global, PhD (Mining), Katholieke Universiteit (Belgium)

INTEGRATED DIGITAL GROUND MODEL

Last year, the NSW Government announced a $44 million upgrade of the Port of Eden to allow ‘mega-liners’ class cruise ships to berth. OEMG worked with the NSW Crown Lands project management team to investigate the possible benefits of the Integrated Digital Ground Model (IDGM) process if it were undertaken in the pre-design phase of the project and on downstream engineering.

Standard two-dimensional geophysical techniques have proved to be unreliable for mapping geological structures and boreholes do not provide confidence that relevant geological structures have been sampled. This leads to uncertainty regarding the ownership of geological risk and a failure to capture opportunities around better design or construction methods.

In addition standard geotechnical models do not capture environmental or economic opportunities. Peteralv Brabers is the lead developer of the Aquares Sub-bottom profiling methods which supports the IDGM process and technology development. An Aquares survey was undertaken of the whole harbour to understand the geological context. Aquares resolved both the depth to layer data and the ground quality to 12 m below the seabed. Data acquisition is digital and processed data was resolved into a 5 x 5 m grid in the horizontal and 0.25 m in the vertical.

The data proved to be very clean and afforded high resolution of the seabed. The port was then designed on the basis of the now verified IDGM.

The work is considered a win-win for involved stakeholders. It allowed a reduction in the number of piles expected to be drilled for rock sockets, reduced the program duration, cost and potential environmental impact.

The ability to move the berthing pocket to the east has allowed larger cruise ships to use the berth as there is now less of the stern exposed (more protection behind the breakwater). This increase will allow cruise ships up to 325 m to berth.

Prof Terry Martin, Applied Research Lead: Autonomous Systems, Nova Systems, PhD (Signal Processing), QUT

ENABLING URBAN UAS OPERATIONS

Right now, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones as they’re more commonly known, are still a novelty, limited substantially by regulations, technology and the fact that every drone needs a pilot. Ultimately they will be an integral part of our lives providing vital services across cities operating from automated dispatch hubs direct to recipients.

If you think traffic is bad on the ground, imagine the chaos of thousands of delivery drones swarming between the skyscrapers of major cities conducting operations from police surveillance to delivering your latest Amazon parcel, says Terry Martin. He is developing a UAS Traffic Management (UTM) system using cutting-edge technologies including advanced simulations to create a safe and efficient navigation system.

Technologies he is working on will enable autonomous Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations without requiring a dedicated operator once the systems are demonstrated as safe. An effective UTM system is built upon UAS traffic network design, optimisation and UAS scheduling – similar to the design of complex road networks in and around cities.

To overcome the fact that highly reliable, automated ‘sense and avoid’ systems have not yet been developed, scheduling of UAS within a UTM system becomes essential.

Martin is central to the development of such a UTM and with research to account for: communication, navigation and surveillance; UAS performance; and minimum separation requirements. These individual factors can overly constrain the optimisation problem, making it very difficult to solve.

“UTM will enable the safe operation of UAVs in high density networks with complex topologies.”

“This will directly benefit governments, emergency services providers, suppliers of consumer goods and consumers,” Martin says.

Dr Mathew Barnes

Dr Mathew Barnes

Dr Peteralv Brabers

Dr Peteralv Brabers

Prof Terry Martin

Prof Terry Martin

Electronics & Communications

Projects to maintain Morre’s Law and extend cloud computing made this category.

Prof Francesca Iacopi

Prof Francesca Iacopi

Dr Sumeet Walia

Dr Sumeet Walia

Dr Fatemeh Jalali

Dr Fatemeh Jalali

Prof Francesca Iacopi, Head of Discipline, UTS School of Electrical and Data Engineering, PhD (Electronics), UTS

MINIATURISATION OF ELECTRONICS

Miniaturisation of electronics requires continuous research and development in order to incorporate novel nanomaterials and push the boundaries of performance. Each new integrated material leads to many challenges in scaling, reproducibility, compatibility, product quality and reliability that can only be addressed with strong international and interdisciplinary teams including academic and industrial researchers working together, sometimes over years.

Francesca Iacopi has worked on the integration of nanoporous dielectrics for many years in collaboration with colleagues from Intel, AMD, Samsung and Texas Instruments, enabling the use of such materials in modern semiconductors. In Australia, she has invented a technology platform for graphene on silicon wafers. This removes a major roadblock on harnessing graphene’s properties in semiconductor technologies, advancing areas such as energy, biosensing, computing, and on-chip and free-space communications.

“Graphene has extraordinary material properties. However, most graphene synthesis methods are not compatible with semiconductor technologies.”

“The new synthesis, which uses silicon carbide on silicon wafers, provides the first realistic possibility of mass production. My research group has pioneered a catalytic approach to obtain graphene from epitaxial SiC films on Si wafers and selectively patterned at wafer-scale.”

Silicon can now be used in the place of extremely expensive silicon carbide wafers, enabling also the use of conventional micromachining. She believes continuous innovation is the basis for the sustained progress in semiconductor technologies.

“Although Moore’s Law has continued throughout the last several decades using few materials (mostly silicon, silicon dioxide and aluminium), since the 2000s it has slowed down because of the compelling necessity for introducing nanomaterials,” she says.

Dr Sumeet Walia, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, RMIT Engineering PhD (Electronics), RMIT

ATOM-THIN ELECTRONICS

Silicon integrated circuits are rapidly approaching their fundamental limit of operation, meaning we will not be able to shrink transistors after 2021.

Sumeet Walia is working on alternative materials to silicon, paving the way for the emergence of nanoscale electronics with unparalleled performance.

“My work envisions establishing an exotic quantum-confined elemental material as a next-generation alternative to silicon electronics by developing an air-stable transistor using phosphorene (a single-atomic layer of black phosphorus) as an atomically thin semiconductor for high-speed, energy-efficient electronics,” he says.

However, these materials tend to suffer from near-spontaneous oxidation induced degradation in the environment. Walia and his team have developed a high-performance transistor just a few atoms thick, and its performance has remained stable even after several months.

His inspiration came from the photosystem II process in plants and identifying light to be the cause of degradation in other materials. Understanding this mechanism allowed him to engineer a solution that mimics the way plants prevent light-induced oxidative species from destroying them. This involved a carefully chosen bio-compatible, naturally-occurring molecule as an invisible trapping net at the micro/nanoscale.

“This molecule, when placed on the semiconducting channel in a transistor, acts like a scavenger and traps all degrading species,” says Walia.

“The entire technology was developed on an industrially compatible standard complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) platform.”

He says the devices developed will enable ultra-fast, energy efficient transistors that consume a fraction of the energy of conventional systems while performing at higher speeds, resulting in smaller, powerful and energy efficient processors with significant environmental benefits.

Dr Fatemeh Jalali, Research Staff Member, IBM Research, PhD (Electrical & Electronics), University of Melbourne

DYNAMIC EDGE FABRIC PLATFORM

With surveys indicating that the number of devices connected to the Internet-of-Things (IoT) is already well into the billions, the assumption that all computation can simply be pushed into the Cloud becomes problematic.

Edge or Fog computing has been introduced as another IoT platform to serve more applications efficiently. However, the platform for each application is predefined by app developers and unchangeable at run-time, regardless of the real-time conditions and the performance of the system part. The IoT gateways, which are bridges between IoT devices and the Cloud, are not smart enough to decide when to run an application on the Edge platform and when to run it on the Cloud based on the system real-time conditions.

Enter Fatemeh Jalali. She has proposed a new IoT gateway that switches between Edge and Cloud dynamically and automatically at run-time for improved performance and better utilisation.

“IoT gateways, which are devices that bridge the IoT local network and the Internet, are in a position to make dynamic adjustments and allocation decision between platforms based upon real-time conditions such as an IoT applications’ performance.”

“However, currently there is no (or very little) intelligence embedded into IoT gateways. I propose cognitive IoT gateways powered by cognitive analytics and machine learning to improve the performance of mobile IoT applications. These IoT devices are able to automatically learn and decide when and where to run an application, be that on the Cloud or on the Fog.”

She says this could be beneficial for many patients that use wearable sensors for continuous monitoring or people with hearing and visual impairments that want to use mobile IoT devices continuously without frequent recharging.

General Industry

Innovations in roads, rail and shipping all get recognition in this broad category.

Dan Ward, Project Technical Lead, Metro Trains Melbourne, MSc (Rail Sys Eng), University of Birmingham (UK)

RAILWAY ON-BOARD DIAGNOSTICS

Dan Ward is leading the development of new on-board diagnostics at Metro Trains Melbourne and believes that innovation is the key to a better railway.

The Melbourne train fleet is disparate in nature and up to 35 years old, making the development of remote condition monitoring (RCM) challenging. The Comeng fleet was commissioned in the 1980s and uses DC traction, a mix of tread and disk braking, plus a unique semi-automatic pneumatic door system. The X’Trapolis fleet is fitted with an event recorder system of limited capability, which provides basic data traditionally used in failure episodes only.

“The core challenge was to develop RCM technology and innovative algorithms that could improve predictive maintenance, diagnose potential issues on both the train and the network, as well as finding a way to convert raw data into a highly digestible form using a web interface,” says Ward.

“Maintenance practices could then be reworked to mine this data and improve the overall availability of the fleet during periods of high demand.”

He says the train manufacturers deemed retro-fitting the fleet with true RCM capability either too complex or too expensive. So he sought approval and funding from Public Transport Victoria to reverse engineer all the diagnostics required and build the new system largely in-house – to international standards – at Metro Trains Melbourne.

His ingenuity and tenacity paid off, with the system now capturing critical data such as driver input, train responsiveness, traction performance, plus operation of doors and brakes.

Simon Mortensen, Group Executive Ports & Navigation, DHI Water and Environment, MSc (Civil), Technical University of Denmark

NCOS ONLINE

The Port of Brisbane (PoB) handles around $50 billion in trade annually and has a navigational channel 90 km long extending from the Sunshine Coast through Moreton Bay into the Brisbane River. Traditionally, the Harbour Master would use a simplistic dynamic under-keel clearance (UKC) system to allow safe navigation of vessels, but this approach resulted in a conservative estimate, limiting the maximum draft of vessels.

Looking to cater more to larger ships, PoB considered deepening the channel via traditional dredging, which can be expensive and environmentally sensitive. But then they commissioned Simon Mortensen and his team to develop a smart solution that would optimise the navigational channel’s operability while mitigating vessel grounding risk.

His solution, NCOS Online, allows each vessel to maximise its sailing window while maintaining optimal safety. It uses complex mathematical algorithms based on real time data to accommodate specific requirements for multiple user groups and key stakeholders through an intuitive user interface.

It’s a cloud-based service running on Australia’s fastest supercomputer NCI to make millions of calculations a second incorporating forecasted, real time environmental, and weather data, vessel specifications and transit information to accurately produce optimal sailing windows for larger ships.

Mortensen wrote the first prototype of NCOS during a Christmas break and it was developed using the port’s shipping channel as a “living laboratory”. In the first six months of operation in Brisbane, NCOS Online doubled the number of bulk carriers departing with a draft greater than 14 m, achieved a 167 per cent increase in container ships with a draft greater than 13 m compared to the year prior and allowed the longest container vessel ever to visit Australia.

Kaitlin Langdon, Engineer, Arup, BE (Civil), University of Tasmania

QUICKCELL SUPER I GIRDER

As part of the Port Drive Upgrade project in Brisbane, Arup was contracted to duplicate the existing Lucinda Drive Bridge over Port Drive and Fisherman Island rail freight corridor.

There were significant risks associated with construction of the central pier within the corridor, with very tight site constraints requiring the pier to be constructed around the existing high voltage cables, the primary source of power essential for the port operation. Arup and Seymour Whyte Constructions (SWC) developed an alternative design to eliminate the pier, utilising pre-stressed precast, simply supported concrete girders to span 46 m over the entire corridor.

The Super I girders were developed by Arup and Quickcell Technology Products over several years. Kaitlin Langdon was the bridge designer, responsible for the detailed design of the girders. She successfully navigated complex design considerations, including temporary design cases, to ensure certainty for constructability of the girders.

The girders required special storage, lifting and transport considerations, none of which are traditionally considered in the bridge design. The complexity of the design was exacerbated with the challenging geometry, including high bridge skews and vertical crest away from the pier.

Development of the girders also required a collaborative design development approach in order to incorporate all aspects of the design and construction. This provided necessary certainty that the 140 t girders are constructible and designed to meet current standards.

Langdon was pivotal to this, working closely with the Port of Brisbane and the Department of Transport and Main Roads, as well as the contractor and manufacturer to bring the innovative design to life.

She remained close to construction through every step and has assisted SWC on a daily basis to ensure design intent is met.

Dan Ward

Dan Ward

Simon Mortensen

Simon Mortensen

Kaitlin Langdon

Kaitlin Langdon

Manufacturing & Automation

Getting innovative in robotics and measurement.

Daniel Messina, Buildings Services Engineer, Arup, BE (Mech), RMIT

HERMES THE SCANNING ROBOT

Shortly after starting with Arup, Daniel Messina realised how inefficient the process of 3D scanning and surveying was and thought about how it could be done better. The existing process involved setting up the scanner, leaving it to scan for 10 minutes, then manually relocating it until the space was completely scanned. With a background in robotics, he developed a concept robot, dubbed Hermes, that could follow a predetermined path to initiate scans at desired locations.

By investigating the external factors that meant 3D scans were required, he learnt that it was largely conducted to support the design process that Arup would undertake, so he started looking at potential value for clients. Ideas he came up with included augmented facility management software, detailed coordination with existing buildings, monitoring during construction phase, asset management and scanning of the environment.

So after Hermes was designed to do its initial task, following the surveyor’s path and conducting scans at set points, the next step was to determine its capacity to continuously monitor and record site-specific data, which could provide value through asset management as well as monitoring and tracking construction progress.

“As plans are distributed to contractors and subcontractors, the robot can monitor progress and send large quantities of data to buildings services engineers to ensure any issues can be rectified before causing any further issues, such as a pipe being installed incorrectly impacting any further pipe installations,” says Messina.

Sean Ding, Graduate Mechanical Engineer, Water Corporation (WA), MPE (Mech), University of WA

SAND FILTER MONITORING SYSTEM

To filter its drinking water, the Water Corporation in Western Australia uses large DynaSand water filters. To ensure the filters are working correctly, various measurements are made on a weekly basis. Currently this is done by inserting a graduated PVC pipe from the top of the tank and timing the drop.

As the drop is in the order of 20 mm/min, the operator must lie down on the grating to read the scale more accurately. On some sites, the measurement location is awkward and on hot summer days, it can be extremely uncomfortable.

The Water Corporation had a plan to upgrade the platforms on two filters to aid the sand-circulation measurement and backwash-water flow rate measurement, which would have cost $200,000. Sean Ding felt it could be done cheaper and with better results, so he developed three devices to enhance the ease and safety of taking these measurements. These are a sand-circulation speed measurement device (the main component), a backwash water flow rate measurement device and a pressure sensor.

“I ensured all materials inside the tank were compliant with drinking water standards.”

As a graduate engineer, he also had to move quickly to schedule the installation before the end of his rotation in that section so he didn’t have to do a hand over with his successor, although he is continuing to manage the project and modify the design for future sites. It is expected to be rolled out to all Dynasand filters across the state and included as a standard feature on future installed filters. He is also speaking with IP lawyers about patenting the design.

Ding says he is particularly pleased that the sand-circulation device has been installed on one site for a total cost of just $35,000 including R&D, prototyping and testing. He expects the total cost will be around $60,000 upon completion, far less than the $200,000 price tag of the original project.   

Dr Marc Carmichael, Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney, PhD (Mech), UTS

ROBOTIC ABRASIVE BLASTING

Abrasive blasting is a physically demanding but important process used to smooth, roughen, shape or remove contaminants from surfaces in a variety of industries. However, workers are required to withstand the large loads experienced due to the abrasive material being propelled from the hand-held blasting nozzle. Because of this, a solution to reducing this physical burden has the potential to be a significant benefit in these industries.

Burwell Technologies, a manufacturer and distributor of equipment and systems for the surface preparation industry, partnered with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to develop a robotic system for abrasive blasting. Marc Carmichael led a team of PhD students and research engineers at the Centre for Autonomous Systems to develop, manufacture and test the robotic system.

“Many challenges needed to be overcome in the development of the robotic system for abrasive blasting. Typically, robot arms are not portable and instead mounted on a permanent fixture,” says Carmichael.

“Our blasting robot is portable which allows the system to be easily transported and relocated to where blasting operations are required.”

To allow control of the robot by simply grabbing on to it, multi-axis force sensors were embedded in the handles to measure the forces applied by workers. These measured forces are used with specially developed algorithms to command the motions of the robot while ensuring smooth and intuitive operation.

3D sensing cameras mounted onto the robot’s portable base allow it to scan the environment surrounding the robot. This allows the robot to have an understanding of its surroundings to avoid colliding with nearby objects.

The harsh environment also presented a significant engineering challenge. All of the technology within the system was required to operate while being protected from the airborne abrasive material that surrounds the system during blasting.

Daniel Messina

Daniel Messina

Sean Ding

Sean Ding

Dr Marc Carmichael

Dr Marc Carmichael

Mining, Oil & Gas

Catalyst removal, hydrogen power and a mining scheduling tool feature in this category.

Prof Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou

Prof Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou

Christopher Jansen

Christopher Jansen

Stephanie Graskoski

Stephanie Graskoski

Prof Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou, Team Leader MERLiN, UNSW, PhD (Chemical), Université Pierre et Marie Curie

HY-CYCLE 2.0 AND H2Q

Hydrogen offers great promise as a means of renewable energy production. It has an energy density twice that of natural gas, is abundant in the form of water and its sole by-product is water. It is also extremely versatile. It can be produced by photocatalysis, water electrolysis or biological processes.

And it can also be used to store electricity, and later release this energy on demand via combustion in all types of engines including power station turbines, industrial and domestic burners, or used to generate electricity from fuel cells.

Kondo-François Aguey-Zinsou has already overcome some scientific challenges associated with hydrogen as a potential energy source, demonstrating low temperature, low pressure, reversible, high capacity hydrogen storage. However, he became frustrated that it was being considered a “fuel for the future” because of an obsession with using it for vehicle applications.

So in 2015, he initiated a grassroots approach to activate the translation of his research findings into hydrogen-based consumer products and the early adoption of the technology by communities.

To demonstrate the simplicity and easy access of the technology, he took an off-the-shelf product (a standard electric bicycle) and used it to create a prototype hydrogen-powered bicycle called the Hy-Cycle. This has since evolved into the Hy-Cycle 2.0, which extends the range of the bike from 30 km using battery alone to 150 km. And the hydrogen canister can be recharged in just 30 minutes, compared to six hours for the battery.

He has also developed the H2Q, a portable hydrogen powered BBQ, which provides around five hours of interrupted flameless cooking and cost just $300. And the hydrogen canisters used for the bike and the barbecue are interchangeable.

Christopher Jansen, Manager – Robotic Catalyst Removal, WorleyParsons, BE (Chem), University of Sydney

ROBOTIC CATALYST REMOVAL 

Chris Jansen is the inventor and program manager of WorleyParsons’ CAROL, a commercial robot for catalyst unloading from refinery and petrochemical vessels.

Until now, catalyst unloading has typically been performed by catalyst contractors who enter the vessel equipped with breathing apparatus because the nitrogen atmosphere can result in fatalities. The number of fixed-bed catalytic vessels in the global refining and petrochemical industry is estimated to exceed 58,000. A rough estimate of the number of worker days of risk exposure due to confined-space entry during catalyst unloading exceeds 10,000 days per year.

Jansen’s robotic catalyst removal solution involves an amphirol (screw propelled vehicle) which essentially floats on the catalyst and vacuums it up. The screws were manufactured using 3D printing, allowing for optimisation of the ribs and the ellipsoidal ends, which in combination with the aluminum frame, was critical to keeping the weight of the device to less than 40 kg.

CAROL is controlled and powered by an external hydraulic power unit, meaning hazardous area requirements are relevant only to the video cameras, lighting and gas monitors. A specially designed jib can be fixed to all manway configurations, allowing for the lowering and raising of the device in and out of the vessel. And it can fit through a manway as small as 450 mm in diameter. The vacuum head moves up and down via a hydraulic cylinder, meaning catalyst removal efficiency can be optimised.

Successful demonstrations in Australia and the US represent the culmination of a multi-disciplinary development effort from conception and design, to prototyping and commercialisation.

“Man versus machine trials indicate that the robot can achieve a removal rate exceeding that of the current human operation over the total catalyst unloading period.”

Stephanie Graskoski, Finance Business Partner, BHP Billiton, BE (Mining), University of Western Australia

DINGO SCHEDULING TOOL

The Dingo Scheduling Tool is a a computer program designed to increase truck and loader production capacity in an underground sub-level cave mining operation. It determines the optimal location for loaders and trucks to maximise tonnes from the production headings to the underground crushing system.

The problem was constrained by many factors and involved extensive development with the vendors to create the back-end engine which powered the tool. It allocates loaders to production headings where ore would be extracted and then either taken to an ore pass or direct loaded to a truck. The tool calculated the best location for loaders and trucks at the given point in time.

The project’s stakeholders included mathematicians, underground operators and IT personnel. Stephanie Graskoski was Project Manager and Cost Controller.

Bringing in a technology solution to an underground mining environment was a challenge due to the lack of uptake in technology solutions in the mining operations space. Most operators, supervisors and foremen are not technology experienced and therefore can be resistant to technology solutions.

This project involved intensive stakeholder engagement and Graskoski took those involved on the journey every step of the way to ensure they were engaged and also passionate about the tool. It was important for key influential staff to be on board as this ensured the wider team welcomed the change.

She enabled the project to move through scoping to implementation and then closed out the project successfully. The complexity of this problem is similar to that of many other industries where asset efficiency and productivity is an increasingly important topic.

Research & Academia

Our researchers are working on remediating wastewater and turning medical waste into concrete.

Prof Ravi Naidu, CEO & MD, CRC Care (Uni of Newcastle), PhD (Soil Chemistry), Massey University (NZ)

matCARE

Professor Naidu has driven wide adoption of more cost-effective and safer remediation practices and policies and fostered new consortia linking industry, regulators and communities. His efforts have helped protect agricultural land, remediate urban contaminated sites, rehabilitate mine sites, and prevent groundwater contamination.

He has developed matCARE, a patented technology for remediating wastewater and soils contaminated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS has multiple industrial uses, including as a flame retardant in firefighting foams. In the absence of remediation technology to clean wastewater generated during fire training activities, millions of litres of wastewater used to be stored in tanks by Defence, airports and most other organisations that used such foams.

PFAS contain a hydrophobic C-F chain that renders them highly resistant to chemical and biological degradation, and one PFAS used in firefighting foams has hydrophilic functional heads that make it highly soluble in water. These properties necessitated the discovery and development of a technology that can remediate a very stable and resistant chemical.

The major innovation in the development of matCARE involved the modification of a naturally occurring clay such that the modified nanomaterial could irreversibly bind fluorosurfactants. This helps remediate wastewater to stringent US threshold concentrations and vast volumes of stored contaminated water can now be treated. It can be applied to the in-situ remediation of land and water systems.

Following an initial validation at the Edinburgh RAAF base with wastewater remediation, the technology has been extended to other Defence sites and the remediation of PFAS-contaminated wastewater at Adelaide Airport.

Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri, Senior Lecturer, Deakin University, PhD (Structural), Cardiff University (UK)

DIALYSIS WASTE AS NEW CONCRETE

Medical waste is a growing problem in Australia. Dialysis for kidney patients produces almost 3 kg of plastic tubing and caps per treatment, and patients typically require dialysis two to three times a week. This creates a large volume of medical waste to be sterilised and then either incinerated or landfilled.

Deakin University engineer Dr Riyadh Al Ameri, together with kidney specialists from Barwon Health and medical waste specialists Fresenius Medical Care, have come up with a win-win solution: adding the sterilised and shredded dialysis waste to concrete.

Dr Katherine Barraclough from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Prof John Agar from Barwon Health’s University Hospital Geelong were seeking a practical solution to their dialysis waste volume that would continue their record of reducing the environmental footprint of medical treatment.

Al-Ameri and his team added the shredded plastic waste to a concrete mix at concentrations of 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent by weight of concrete, with results showing this made a product that was more durable and significantly more waterproof, which would in turn reduce the rate of corrosion of the structural rebar within the concrete.

“Concrete can crack and damage the internal bond, which can then lead to water penetration and corrosion of the steel bars, critical for providing the strength and integrity of concrete structures,” he says.

“If we are able to facilitate production of new types of concrete that will offer better protection, give structures longer life and better performance, as well as help recycle plastic waste, that will be a great achievement.”

He says the technique has enormous potential to lower the economic cost of healthcare (via reduced disposal costs), reduce the environmental impacts and improve the concrete durability and structural integrity. 

Prof Bing-Jie Ni, Professor, University of Technology Sydney, PhD (Environmental), UTS

GHG NEUTRAL WATER TREATMENT

Nitrous oxide not only is a significant greenhouse gas, with an approximately 300-fold stronger warming effect than carbon dioxide, but also reacts with ozone in the stratosphere leading to ozone layer depletion. It can be produced and directly emitted from wastewater treatment systems.

Therefore, the development of detailed knowledge and reliable predictive tools for quantifying and mitigating nitrous oxide emission is extremely important for achieving greenhouse gas neutral wastewater treatment.

Prof Bing-Jie Ni has contributed significantly to the field of environmental engineering for sustainable wastewater management, especially in the development of new cost-effective biotechnologies/tools for wastewater management with low greenhouse gases emissions.

He and colleagues revealed significant methane emissions from sewers, where previously the IPCC was assuming zero emissions. They developed a new model that has better capability to predict N₂O accumulation during denitrification than the currently used models. This was used to successfully predict N₂O emissions from several full-scale wastewater treatment plants in Australia for the first time.

“These outcomes largely enhanced the ability of the water industry to estimate and mitigate its greenhouse emissions.”

“The work is ongoing through my current research (with direct involvement and support from industry partners, eg Melbourne Water) to further optimise the sewer management and wastewater treatment plant operations to reduce or avoid the direct emissions of methane and nitrous oxide.”

He says his work was strongly supported with an ARC Linkage project as well as some direct R&D contracts to assist with the estimation and mitigation of methane emissions from sewer networks, which has already had significant payback.

Prof Ravi Naidu

Prof Ravi Naidu

Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri

Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri

Prof Bing-Jie Ni

Prof Bing-Jie Ni

Utilities

Innovations in utilities cover water and electricity from big cities to remote towns.

Anne Williams, Associate (Energy), Aurecon, BE (Elec), UNSW

ELECTROLYSIS-FREE HV POLES

Stray traction currents are a problem in electric rail networks, and they are the main reason Sydney Trains has insisted on timber poles to carry high voltage (HV) aerial wires, despite their short design life, constructability issues, high maintenance costs and increasing difficulties sourcing good hardwood timber.

Anne Williams was part of the Novo Rail Alliance Strathfield to Hornsby signalling power upgrade project, which included upgrading the pole line between Devlins Creek and Hornsby, a 33 kV aerial line with 11 kV underbuild and earth wire.

She designed a steel HV aerial pole resilient against stray traction current issues, which has since been installed at 123 locations between Epping and Hornsby and is supported by technical specifications expected to receive Asset Standards Authority (ASA) approval.

Importantly, it also allows current from lightning surges and AC fault currents to help provide lightning protection for substation equipment and underground cables and prevent dangerous voltages during AC network fault conditions.

Her solution involved steel poles fitted with an ABB HVL 120-0.3 low voltage limiter, a safety device for personal protection from touch voltages and protection of equipment from over-voltages. It is typically mounted at the base of a mast for the overhead railway contact lines. Here the units are used on steel HV aerial poles.

The manufacturer was initially doubtful the device could be suitable. However, Williams and her team provided concept drawings, and discussed the specifications extensively to explain their solution. The device consists of back-to-back thyristors with in-built triggering circuitry and surge arrester. The team established that the device would not trigger on typical Sydney Trains DC rail voltages yet still be appropriate for exposure to direct and indirect lightning surges, withstand typical Sydney Trains network AC or DC faults, and recover to normal operation.

Eric Vanweydeveld, Senior Project Manager, Power and Water Corporation (NT), MEng (Water), University of Strasbourg (FRA)

CONTAINERISED WATER TREATMENT

Borroloola is a small town of less than 1000 people on the Gulf of Carpentaria, about an eight-hour drive from the nearest major town. Its water supply system uses groundwater which tends to be corrosive and impacts supply infrastructure as it dissolves the protective cement lining in the distribution system pipework, resulting in heavy metals leaching into the drinking water supply. So a new water treatment plant was required.

To overcome the geographical, climatic and logistical challenges associated with constructing a complex asset in a remote location, the new plant is being delivered through a containerised solution managed by Eric Vanweydeveld.

Five customised shipping containers and one portable concrete building house a water treatment process train to reduce the level of corrosiveness of the water through pH correction. Treatment processes includes CO2 removal, remineralisation, chlorine gas dosing and backwash waste management.

The design phase was managed entirely through a 3D modelling representation. The model was reviewed and assessed through a series of ‘walk through’ workshops with all team members (operations, planning, OH&S and environment). This provided the ability to rapidly assess space requirements, accessibility issues and integration of various components through an intuitive visualisation.

The 3D model has allowed the correction of many issues and design conflicts between disciplines, before the construction phase commences. These conflicts are not easily seen in the conventional 2D design and it is clear the 3D approach saved significant expense associated with design adjustments during the construction phase.

System components have been fabricated in various locations including India, France, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Darwin. The plant is now being assembled, connected and pre-tested in Darwin in a controlled environment to ensure all testing and validation requirements are met before dispatch to Borroloola for the final integration and commissioning.

The approach provides an integrated system solution and has reduced the time, costs and risks associated with the construction of a complex system in a remote location.

Cedric Gros, Design Manager, Water Corporation (WA), BE (Chem), University of Compiegne (FRA)

BAFFLES IN AN EXISTING TANK

The Neerabup Groundwater Treatment Plant (GWTP) on the northern outskirts of Perth takes around 100 ML of groundwater each day and treats it for use in Perth’s drinking water supply. Its 4000 m3 clear water tank (CWT) needed an upgrade to provide better roof support.

A lack of available space on the site meant it was impossible to install an additional tank, so Cedric Gros suggested the use of five precast straight baffles in the existing tank to give structural support to the new concrete roof, plus three turning baffles to avoid short circuiting and dead zone in the tank and therefore increasing the required contact time with chlorine. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling was undertaken to define the optimal number and shape of the internal baffles.

This CWT upgrade from activation phase to end of commissioning took 11 months. The shutdown period of the existing tank for upgrade completion was not negotiable due to the important role of this plant in Perth’s Integrated Water Supply Scheme. The project was delivered on time and on budget, with a design efficiency of less than 5 per cent.

“This innovative solution also has a significant lower capital cost than a new tank (more than 50 per cent less expensive), requires no existing services or assets relocation due to a new tank and finally does not impact the available space on site for the planned GWTP upgrade.”

“The project team worked efficiently with internal stakeholders and contractors to complete the project. As a design manager for this project, I took ownership to manage and challenge the multidiscipline engineers involved in the upgrade. I specifically spent some relevant time during the CFD modelling to make sure that all hydraulic scenarios applicable to the tank and pumping station downstream the tank where covered by the modelling.”

Anne Williams

Anne Williams

Eric Vanweydeveld

Eric Vanweydeveld

Cedric Gros

Cedric Gros

Young Engineers

Photovoltaics, drones and capital works programs are inspiration for our young engineers.

Kimberley Abbott

Kimberley Abbott

Dr Brett Hallam

Dr Brett Hallam

Zoe Wilks

Zoe Wilks

Kimberley Abbott, Engineering Innovation Lead, Thales UK, BE (Mech), University of Wollongong

UAS SOFTWARE PLATFORM

For someone still in their 20s, Kimberley Abbott’s resume is already impressive. At university in Wollongong she helped develop an artificial heart, co-founded and ran the Yes WE can! women in engineering program, and founded and was CEO of Roka, an award-winning social enterprise developed to break the cycle of poverty in rural India through economic empowerment of women and education.

Currently at Thales UK, she is responsible for directing digital technology projects from concept to design and on to market.

Abbott was the Team Lead for product development, strategy and business commercialisation of a digital civil unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations software platform. She took the project from an initial high level strategy and value proposition through to a validated proof of concept.

This required working across a spectrum of activity including user-centred design, working with operators and enterprise customers in understanding their needs, developing a technical architecture and build concept (using Amazon Web Services) as well as business model and market analysis.

This project was managed as a three-month SPRINT, with a focus on go-no-go at the final stage. She influenced key business stakeholders within the UK, French and Research and Technology parts of the business, helping to develop the ongoing plan, strategy and approach to turning it into a business winning opportunity. It is now positioned to become a new product line in a new market for Thales.

Dr Brett Hallam, Scientia Fellow, UNSW PhD (Photovoltaics), UNSW

HIGH-EFFICIENCY, LOW-COST PV

The University of NSW is highly-regarded for its work in photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, setting many world records for solar cell efficiency. Record high-efficiency solar cells use heterojunctions to minimise surface recombination, but since they require expensive, high-quality silicon, they are not commercially cost-effective. A key challenge has therefore been to fabricate high-efficiency heterojunction cells using low-cost silicon.

The heterojunction structures are thermally unstable, requiring all processes to be performed at low temperatures. However, this also eliminates the ability to incorporate hydrogen into the device. At 250°C it would take around three months to diffuse hydrogen through the wafer using conventional approaches. Yet, the industrial environment requires a processing time of one second per wafer.

To overcome this fundamental incompatibility, Dr Brett Hallam has developed a multi-stage hydrogenation process with high-temperature hydrogen injection ‘before’ heterojunction formation, followed by low-temperature hydrogen activation to neutralise defects in the finished device.

A world record Voc of 702 mV was obtained using low-quality, low-cost multi-crystalline silicon, around 30 mV higher than that of current state-of-the-art multi-crystalline devices. The results suggest that the Voc could exceed 730 mV through optimisation. This could increase current industrial solar cell efficiencies on low-cost silicon wafers from 22 per cent to 25 per cent; dramatically reducing the cost of photovoltaic-generated electricity, with an estimated value of US$13 billion per year to the industry.

By reducing cost, the competitiveness of photovoltaic-generated electricity is increased compared to that generated from fossil fuels, and therefore, increasing the chance of wide-scale adoption of photovoltaics.

A provisional patent application for the hydrogenated heterojunction technology was filed in 2016 with Hallam as principle inventor and a new $7.5 million ARENA-funded project has been established to take this technology to pilot production.

Zoe Wilks, Transport Engineer, Arup, BE (Civil),University of WA

INTEGRATED INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT PLAN

As Arup’s project manager for the Curtin University Integrated Infrastructure Management Plan (IIMP), Zoe Wilks was responsible for delivering a 20-year capital works program for all civil and transport projects across Western Australia’s largest university campus.

She coordinated and led the preparation of the Arup proposal for the defined scope of work. And being familiar with the client’s existing difficulties, coordinating a significant number of stakeholders and implementing from lengthy, technical documents, she proposed an alternative methodology, including a campus-wide existing facility assessment using iPads rather than pen and paper and the development of a customised, web-based spatial analysis tool to supplement the report and a Capital Works Program.

Wilks was aware of the iPad app being used on other highway projects in Northern West Australia. She concluded this option would allow a more efficient assessment of the existing pedestrian, cycle and road networks at the university. This would result in a cost saving for the client as well as providing an extremely detailed geospatial file for the University’s data team to use on other dependent projects.

The spatial analysis tool or dashboard would enable all stakeholders to visually analyse where each of the proposed transport and civil projects are; how the staging works together; the reasoning for the proposed stages, and what the capital expenditure obligations are on an annual basis – all across a 20-year timeline.

One quantifiable success of her innovative approach included delivering an eight-month project in just three months, which allowed the university to accelerate the 2018 capital program of works. The early delivery resulted in more than $1.5 million being allocated to critical transport and civil projects for 2018 that would otherwise have been put back to 2019.

It also provided a transparent, holistic framework for prioritising projects for the university and incorporated all existing planning documentation and visions, enabling internal and external stakeholders to better understand the progression of developments for the next 20 years.

Meet the Judges

Alex Kingsbury

Alex Kingsbury is a chemical engineer who currently consults to industry on metal additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Formerly Director of CSIRO’s additive manufacturing centre Lab 22, Kingsbury has long worked at the nexus between industry and R&D.

During her time at Lab 22 she implemented an industry initiative that gave manufacturing businesses access to and training for metal 3D printers and provided co-working lab space. She now consults to companies in Australia and overseas that are already active in 3D printing, considering moving into that space, or are looking at investing in the technology.

Bronwyn Evans

Dr Bronwyn Evans has over 30 years’ experience as an engineering executive in the areas of power generation, engineering education, standards creation and medical devices. She is CEO of Standards Australia, Vice President (Finance) of ISO, Chair of MTPConnect, the Industry Growth Centre for Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals and a member of the Australia-Japan Foundation.

Dr Evans has a BE (Elec) and PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of Wollongong in the field of industrial automation and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Michael Blumenstein

Michael Blumenstein is currently a Professor and the Associate Dean (Research Strategy & Management) as well as the Head of the School of Software at the University of Technology Sydney. He has accumulated over a decade of experience in leadership roles in the tertiary sector and is a nationally and internationally recognised expert in the areas of artificial intelligence and pattern recognition.

His current research interests include AI-based marine life and shark detection from drone-based video imagery, automated document analysis, video-based/multilingual text detection and signature verification.

John Dell

Prof John Dell is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Western Australia. He has 10 years of industry experience in semiconductor technologies for telecommunication and aerospace industries gained prior to becoming an academic.

His current interests are in management and leadership development. He is also a co-inventor of a number of patented device structures and fabrication technologies. He is joint winner of the inaugural DSTO/Australia Museum Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Support of Defence or National Security.

Veena Sahajwalla

Prof Veena Sahajwalla is transforming recycling science to unlock the wealth of resources embedded in the many complex wastes currently destined for landfill. As Founding Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at the University of New South Wales and the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for green manufacturing, she is producing a new generation of green materials made from waste.

Her internationally commercialised EAF green steel making process, for example, is transforming millions of waste tyres as a partial replacement for coke.

Euan Lindsay

Prof Euan Lindsay is the Foundation Professor of Engineering at Charles Sturt University. His research interests focus on online learning – the use of remote and virtual laboratories, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other methods for making learning asynchronous, and data analytics for promoting student learning.

He is a past President of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education and a Fellow of Engineers Australia. In 2007 he was the recipient of a Carrick Award for Australian University Teaching. In 2005 he was named as one of the 30 Most Inspirational Young Engineers in Australia.

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