School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

June 2014

International Poster Award for Environmental Engineering Student

pic 1 june newsletter John Xie ep Goen Ho.JPG PhD Candidate in Environmental Engineering, John Xie, has won the Best Poster Award at the Singapore International Water Week’s Water Convention. John’s poster beat over 200 other submissions from across the globe, including runners-up from Oxford University, National University of Singapore and MIT.

John Xie, along with postdoctoral research fellow Dr Lucy Skillman and Emeritus Professor Goen Ho, took out the award for their poster presentation, Comparison of Fouling by Extracellular Polymeric Substances and Polysaccharides in Forward Osmosis. The poster was submitted in the category Delivering Water from Source to Tap – Treatment, one of seven Convention themes.

Physics Teaching Videos Now Online

Dr Chris Creagh has created and uploaded a series of short lecture demonstrations for first year University physics. The video presentations feature demonstrations of topics such as air pressure, buoyancy and resonance.

The impetus for creation of these videos was external and online students, along with others who for various reasons don’t always make it to lectures.

As Dr Creagh explains, “Many of the students access the recorded lectures but because the lectures are only screen capture the students cannot see the lecture demonstrations. So I thought I would put the path where people are walking and upload the lecture demonstrations for my first year unit to YouTube.”

Chris has captured video of around 30 presentations, and these will be progressively uploaded to her YouTube channel as they’re completed. Chris welcomes feedback about the content.

Teaching Matters

Vice Chancellors Learning & Teaching Excellence Awards: Congratulations to Dan Churach, Amy Glen and Doug Fletcher who have all been nominated for VC's Learning and Teaching Excellence Awards on the basis of being in the top 10% of student surveys of teaching in 2013. This is a wonderful achievement and it is worth noting that the Dean has committed to providing $500 additional maintenance funding for colleagues who, having been nominated for these awards, then submit an application.

More information about the VC's awards can be found at

School Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Learning & Teaching: The Dean has also established the School Dean's Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. These awards have several aspects:

  • $2000 for the coordinator of the unit offering with the highest student satisfaction score in unit surveys each semester
  • $2000 for the person with the highest overall score in teaching surveys each semester
  • $500 for staff who apply for VCs Learning and Teaching Award (following nomination).
  • 4 Innovation in Teaching Grants of $2500 each year on the basis of an application for funding to adopt a new or innovative approach to teaching in a unit or suite of units.

More details of these Awards will be provided in the near future.

Unit Materials Standard: A timely reminder to those who are completing planning for their Semester 2 units that they should examine the Unit Materials Standard which lists the information and resources that are required for units at Murdoch. The standard can be found at  Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, Danny Toohey is more than happy to discuss these requirements with people. A reminder also regarding the Assessment Policy and Guidelines that can be found at:

First Year Transition and Breadth Units: Special mention needs to be made of Greg Crebbin, Graham Mann, Val Hobbs and Helen Middleton who took on the very onerous task of developing and teaching in the new first year transition and breadth units in Engineering and Science. These units were developed from scratch, and involved much coordination of teaching teams. The feedback from these units has been very positive, which is a reflection of the effort put in by our colleagues.

New MOU for Research Collaboration with Thammasat University, Thailand

pic 2 june newsletter Thammasat building.jpgMurdoch University has established a Memorandum of Understanding with the Faculty of Architecture and Planning at Thailand’s Thammasat University.
The MOU recognises the intention of the two partners to establish a relationship to cooperate in a broad range of areas, and allows for development of mutually beneficial activities such as collaborative workshops and international forums, a student exchange program, and advanced entry to Murdoch of appropriately qualified students from Thammasat.

Following the establishment of this MOU, Dr Tania Urmee of the Electrical Engineering, Energy & Physics discipline area will work closely with Thammasat researchers on a research topic, ‘Relationships between the building design and user behaviour in establishing sustainable building’.

Dr Tania Urmee met with Dr Asan Suwanarit, Associate Dean for Partnerships and International Relations in March this year to discuss the possibilities of working closely in ASEAN countries on Energy Efficiency.

Emeritus Professor Ian Ritchie receives Order of Australia

Emeritus Professor Ian Ritchie has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, receiving an Order of Australia award for distinguished service to science in the field of chemistry and hydrometallurgy. Many of us in the school have had the honour of working with him, particularly during his time as director of the AJ Parker CRC in Hydrometallurgy in his role as Director/Chief Executive Officer from its inception in July 1992 until his retirement in January 2001.

Professor Ritchie’s research interests include Hydrometallurgy, Electrochemistry, Organic and Bio-electrochemistry, Corrosion and Displacement Reactions and Metal Oxidation Reactions. His publication record includes over 100 papers, many conference proceedings and also two books.

Professor Ritchie is a Fellow of four Professional Societies: the Royal Australian Chemical Institute; the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and the Australian Academy of Sciences.

Other accolades of Professor Ritchie’s include the WA Citizen of the Year Award (Professions Category) in 1997, the Centenary Medal in 2001, and the Milton E Wadsworth Award from the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgy in 2004. Two notable awards established in his honour are the Ian Ritchie Achievement Award and the Ritchie Early Career Award.

RSWA Forum - Energy for the Next Century

Two Murdoch staff members spoke recently at an Energy Forum organized by the Royal Society of Western Australia. To celebrate its centenary year, the RSWA is holding a series of Forums on scientific topics of public interest throughout the year. The Energy Forum was called “Energy for the next Century” and it was held at the University Club at UWA on 29 May.

Adjunct Professor Craig Carter spoke about “Wind Power in Western Australia” and described the work that he has been involved in over the past 20 years installing wind farms throughout the State. Emeritus Professor Philip Jennings spoke about the “Prospects for Photovoltaics” and described the impressive growth of the worldwide PV industry and the current and future applications of this technology. Two other speakers from Curtin University discussed Solar Thermal Systems and Nuclear Power respectively.

The Forum was well attended by about 80 people including RSWA members, University staff and students and members of the general public. Following the presentations there was a lively question and answer session where a variety of scientific and social issues were discussed.

 Visiting Fellow in Chemistry - Dr Jiuxu Song

Dr Jiuxu Song from the School of Electronic Engineering, Xi’an Shiyou University, China has joined Dr David Henry’s research group for 1 year as a Visiting Research Associate.

Dr Jiuxu completed his PhD in microelectronics and solid state electronics from Xidian University in 2009. He was then appointed as an instructor in the School of Electrical Engineering at Xi'an Shiyou University. Subsequent to this he carried out post-doctoral research at the Center for Physics at Xidian University where he was investigating the influence of native defects on the electronic properties of SiCNTs.

His current research involves computer modelling and focuses on (1) structural and electronic properties of SiCNTs (supported by of fund of Shaanxi provincial educational department, Grant); (2) Modulation the electronic structures of SiCNTs with external electric fields (supported by innovation fund of Xi'an Shiyou University).

Dr Jiuxu’s visit will enable him to gain training in contemporary Quantum Chemistry and Computational Chemistry techniques relevant to his field. This will enable him to develop design principles for fabrication of SiCNTs to be utilized as field-effect transistors (FETs), which have potential applications in high temperature and high voltage harsh environments.

New "Student Advisor" Positions in the School - Revisions to First Year Advisor Roles

Over the past 6 – 12 months, there has been a University-wide review of the positioning and role of First Year Advisors (FYAs) at Murdoch. We are pleased to inform our colleagues that this has resulted in the renewal of a contracted position, called Student Advisor (SA), from 1st June 2014 until January 2017.

Key Purpose of the Student Advisor Role

The primary purpose of the SA role is to contribute towards improved student retention outcomes in their school. The revised focus of this position is to provide support to all on-shore undergraduate students in their transition to University and during their time as a student. This support is provided through both individual and cohort-based initiatives designed to promote a deeper engagement with their studies and University life.  Detailed information on the Student Advisors’ roles can be read here.

If you have any questions, ideas or initiatives you would like to discuss, please don’t hesitate to contact Mandy Middle (Student Advisor), Danny Toohey (Associate Dean, Learning & Teaching) or Rebecca Treloar-Cook (School Manager).

Student Advisor Role - Key Responsibilities

To work closely in support of the School Associate Dean Teaching and Learning (ADLT), Academic Chairs (AC’s) and other school staff as appropriate, to develop, plan and deliver School-based student transition and retention initiatives.

To work in collaboration with the Student Support Manager (SSM), Network Coordinator, other Student Advisors and student support staff to develop, plan and deliver University-wide student transition and retention activities including, but not limited to:

  • Student Orientation sessions
  • Student enrolment advice sessions
  • Scheduled student contact campaigns

Provide information, advice and guidance to all on-shore undergraduate students on a range of matters including:

  • Referral to Academic Chairs(AC’s)where appropriate
  • Study planning, unit selection and course information
  • General pastoral and welfare support
  • Signposting / referral to other specialist student support services
  • Ensure personal accessibility through a range of media appropriate to the School’s student cohort, including face to face, e-mail, telephone and on-line support.
  • Log student interactions and outcomes in University systems as required.
  • Participate in the collection and analysis of student feedback as required.

Liaise with the ADLT and the Student Support Manager (SSM) to review and improve the effectiveness of student transition, retention and engagement initiatives on a continual basis, and to provide advice to the School Learning and Teaching Committee on these matters.

The SA, ADLT and SM will work together over the coming months to develop goals, review phone campaigns in accordance with the new ‘reach’ of the role, and set new parameters around at-risk reporting.

News in Brief

  • Professor Edgar Vargas, Chemistry Department, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia, has just arrived at Murdoch University to spend about one month working with Glenn Hefter and colleagues in solution chemistry. He will be located in Glenn’s office (PS2.014; Ext. 2226).
  • Three Extractive Metallurgy students have been announced as winners of the Odwyn Jones MRIWA Scholarships. The winners were Joshua Vinicombe, Edwyne Mutai and Jonathan Adams.