School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

March 2014

Welcome to Dr Mohammednoor Altarawneh   

pic 3 march.JPG Dr Mohammednoor Atarawneh joined the School of Engineering and IT in February. Modammednoor finished an undergraduate degree in Jordan, a Masters degree from Sydney University and a PhD form the University of Newcastle.

He had worked for three years as an Assistant/Associate Professor in Jordan before taking on a University Fellowship at The University of Newcastle in the Discipline of Chemical Engineering (Priority Research Centre for Energy).

His research focuses on the investigation of chemical phenomena using quantum chemical methods. His work has resulted in the publication of 45 scholarly journal articles, 20 conference papers and 1 invited plenary lecture. Mohammednoor’s interests are in the fields of reaction mechanisms and kinetics for the formation of organic pollutants and oxidation of hydrocarbons. His research on combustion helped him to be awarded the prestigious Bernard Lewis Fellowship by the International Combustion Institute.

IT Research Featured in 'The Conversation'

Dr Nik Thompson’s article on computer security, titled “Why We Do Dumb Things on Smartphones” was published in The Conversation in late February. The article, which deals with the often overlooked security risks associated with scanning QR codes, received over 500 hits on its first day of publication. The article follows a 2013 study undertaken by Dr Thompson and Dr Kevin Lee, and published in the Journal of Digital Forensics, Security and Law.

Nik’s full article can be read here: 

ARC Linkage Study - Renewable Energy Better for Mine Site Villages

A group of researchers including David Goodfield, PhD candidate in Environmental Engineering, have calculated the carbon footprint of a typical WA mine site village, finding that significant improvements can be made without affecting the bottom line.

The study, funded by the ARC Linkage program, along with support from Matricon Pty Ltd and WorleyParsons, found that applying energy efficiency and behaviour change measures was only likely to reduce the carbon footprint by six per cent. Mr Goodfield found that a much greater reduction could be made by switching the village’s energy supply to renewable sources.

Read the full story by Candice Barnes on the Murdoch home page here:

AINSE Research Awards - Special Presentation at Murdoch, 24th March

The Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) offers research awards and post graduate top-up scholarships for students whose projects aligned with AINSE’s objectives and require access to the unique national facilities at the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Lucas Heights, NSW.

Dr Frank Bruhn (Managing Director - AINSE) and Prof Brendan Kennedy (AINSE President) visited Murdoch on Monday, 24th of March. The purpose of their visit was to outline the opportunities presented by AINSE for Murdoch researchers, explain how these can be utilised and discuss the general activities and directions of AINSE in the coming period.

The visit was initiated by Dr Aleks Nikoloski during his visit to Sydney for the AINSE Council Meeting in 2013, soon after he was appointed to represent Murdoch on this body. There is a need for better information on what AINSE does and how our researchers can make use of the presented opportunities.

Recently, Dr Manickam Minakshi visited the Lucas Heights facility, and along with ANSTO scientists, demonstrated that a rechargeable battery could be produced using aqueous electrolytes – which are inherently much safer than the currently available lithium batteries using non-aqueous electrolytes.

With state-of-the-art facilities and word class expertise at ANSTO, new insights into the fundamental science can be achieved. Dr Minakshi had a very exciting time while achieving fruitful results that led to several joint publications with ANSTO.

To our knowledge, the presentation on 24th March was the first information sharing session on AINSE open to the wider Murdoch research community in nearly a decade.

Student Research into Wastewater at Wilson Inlet

Wastewater in Denmark in the deep south of WA has been on the nose to the local community for some time - even to the extent where solids were washing ashore directly in front of the riverside caravan park. Delightful!!

The wastewater treatment plant for the town discharges treated effluent into a creek line that then enters the Wilson Inlet and monitoring reports indicate that the nutrient levels sometimes exceed acceptable limits set by the regulators. The plant is old and its capacity can no longer cope with the larger populations living in and visiting the town. Fortunately, the Water Corporation is currently constructing a new plant that will better handle the seasonal peak loads from variable tourist numbers and reduce nutrient levels entering the inlet.

However, the Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee (WICC) believe the licensed limits and the improved capacity of the new plant will not be sufficient to ensure long term environmentally sustainable outcomes for the inlet. Consequently, they have asked Murdoch University's Environmental Engineering students to design a constructed wetland to be installed at the outlet of the wastewater plant with the design objective to reduce nutrient levels further to the levels preferred by WICC and the community.

The students are undertaking their final year design unit called ENG4281 Environmental Engineering Design. Unit coordinator and academic chair Dr Martin Anda said "The students recently organised and undertook their first trip to the site, to meet the stakeholders and gather data and they were able to make a very well received presentation of options to the stakeholders".

Dr Anda noted that in a project like this, the students not only gain new technical skills in engineering design but they also gain great insights from liaising directly with Water Corporation engineers, government regulators and community members - all of these being potential future employers. He explained that this is the first of three trips the students will undertake this semester before completing the final design.

"The students will need to develop a range of engineering options for reducing the nutrient levels entering the inlet and then put these options through a multi–criteria assessment process with stakeholder consultation to arrive at a final solution" said Martin. This will also include looking at some alternative and innovative options in the town itself that may lead to a lower cost and sustainable solution.

"However", said Martin, "in the end the students will still need to develop a highly detailed, ecologically sound, engineered wetland design solution that meets with the satisfaction of WICC and the Water Corporation."

The design outputs for assessment and WICC will include various modelling efforts, engineering design drawings, posters, oral presentations with slide packs and a final report. With great optimism Martin remarked, "these students are certainly enthusiastic, capable and ready for the tasks ahead".

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Networking at the IEEE Region 10 AGM

The 2014 IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) Asia-Pacific Region (R10) Annual Meeting was held at Kuching, Malaysia on the 1st and 2nd March, 2014. The event was well attended by over 100 delegates from 18 countries in the region. The list of delegates included members of the R10 Executive Committee, representatives from 57 sections, 6 councils, staff from the Asia Pacific Office and the headquarter, and VIP’s. Associate Professor Lance Fung attended the meeting as Chair of the IEEE Australia Council (2013-2014) and took the opportunity to network with colleagues from overseas, Australia Sections, and VIP’s such as the IEEE President-elect, Professor Howard Michel.
IEEE provides various types of funding, support and awards at national, regional and global levels. Staff are encouraged to explore the opportunities, which include:

  • IEEE Australia Council Student paper competition
  • IEEE Education Activities Board (EAB) Award
  • IEEE New Initiative Programs
  • IEEE R10 Humanitarian Technology Activities
  • IEEE R10 Women In Engineering (WIE) Awards and Recognition Program
  • Individual Benefits and Services Support Fund
  • Education Activities Support Fund

Within the School of Engineering & Information Technology, we have established an IEEE Murdoch University Student Branch (MUSB) and an IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetic Society (SMC) Student Chapter. Staff and students interested in IEEE activities and the above initiatives may contact Lance Fung for further information.

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Australian Delegates with R10 Director: (Back L-to-R) Prof Toshio Fukuda, Dr Zia Ahmed (SA), A/Prof Lance Fung (WA); (Front L-to-R) Dr Fouad Karouta (ACT), A/Prof Adam Osseiran (WA), Dr Mark Pszcel (SA)

Staff News in Brief

Dr Devindri Perera attended a workshop on Statistical Modelling and Analysis of Big Data, hosted by the University of Queensland. The workshop was supported by ARC Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers in Big Data, Big Models and New Insights, the Statistical Society of Australia and QUT. Topics covered in the workshop included genetics and geography, formal Bayesian inference and decision making with big data, and machine learning and statistics in the big data era.

Professors Yoshio Ukyo (Toyota Central R&D Industry) and Zempachi Ogumi (University of Kyoto) from Japan visited Murdoch on 10th Mar 2014. They gave a special seminar on “Lithium-ion battery and technologies for next generation vehicles”. Their presentations were very interesting and attracted a considerable audience in the midst of a busy teaching week. The take-home message of their presentation is that Toyota anticipates widespread use of electric vehicles in the future, so the research in developing next-generation advanced lithium secondary batteries will continue to be prominent.