School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

May 2014

2014 School Small Grant Scheme: 19 Projects Supported

Lance Fung, Associate Dean (Research)

As part of the School’s Research Strategic Plan 2014-2016, the School has allocated funds in 2014 to support and encourage academic staff up to Level C to undertake active participation in research and research-related activities that will lead to quality research outputs. A total of 22 submissions were received, and were reviewed by a committee of representatives from each of the four disciplines plus CCG. Based on track records, quality of proposal and expected output, 19 of the applicants were allocated support from the scheme. Please join us in congratulating the successful applicants.

Click here to view a list of the successful projects …

2014 University Small Grant Scheme - CMC Winner

Professor Parisa A. Bahri, Head of Engineering and the CMC Discipline, has won one of ten R&D grants as part of the wider University’s new small grant scheme. Applications for grants under the University scheme closed in March and the decisions were announced in mid-April.

Professor Bahri will be working alongside VLS’ Navid Mohemaini on the project, entitled Repeatable hydrocarbon extraction (milking) from live microalgae for low cost biofuel production.

From the project’s abstract: “The continuing pressure on existing oil reserves and the growing implications of climate change continue to drive demand for sustainable biofuels. Microalgae have the potential to produce hydrocarbons at high productivity from salt water, sunlight, CO2 and nutrients, however, current approaches are not economically viable. This research project focuses on further developing a new approach to substantially reduce production costs that could pave the way for Australia to be a world leader in biofuel production.”

The Research and Development office received a total of 71 applications for grants under the Scheme, but only 10 were funded. Please join us in congratulating Parisa on her success.

Poster and 3 Minute Thesis Competition

The Dean and the School Research Committee invite eligible graduate students to participate in a Poster and 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) Presentation competitions to be held in September 2014.

Second, third and final year HDR students, full or part-time, are eligible to enter. Students should discuss their participation with their supervisor, and then send their Poster or 3MT slide to Rosie Price by the submission deadline. A committee of academics representing all the School’s disciplines will select the best entries to be presented for the final competition in September.

Submission Deadline: 15 August 2014

Announcement of Finalists: 5 September 2014

Final Competition: 30 September 2014

All enquiries regarding the format of Poster and 3MT should be directed to ;

Paperless Marking in Mathematics and Statistics

Our colleagues in Mathematics and Statistics have been trialling the use of tablet computers for paperless marking. Several staff in the discipline are using Samsung Windows tablets equipped with specialist PDF annotator software to mark and give feedback on student assessments in soft copy.

The Dean has noted the adoption of this method as one of the most innovative developments in teaching in the School this year, and congratulates those staff who are leading the charge.
Doug Fletcher, who has been marking paperlessly in his unit MAS183 Statistical Data Analysis since mid-2012, observes that enthusiasm for this method is spreading: “Every time I talk about electronic marking with other staff and they find out that we are writing on PDFs, they always respond with something like “Wow! I want to do that too.”

“Fully electronic submission and marking means that there is automatically a full audit trail of the entire process, and since we retain a copy of the marked assignment, students’ questions about the marking can be dealt with accurately and efficiently. Paperless marking doesn’t just save trees. It saves our time and effort, and this is where it really pays for itself.”

2014 National Cyber Security Challenge

Earlier this month, a team of students led by Dr Nik Thompson from Murdoch University's School of Engineering and Information technology competed in the 2014 national Cyber Security Challenge, proving once again that we are a force to be reckoned with. From a playing field of around 60 hand-picked teams from all around Australia, we are pleased to have made it into the top 10 and will be featured on the challenge website for the next year.

The Cyber Security Challenge is Australia’s only national cyber security competition. Organized by the Australian Government in collaboration with Telstra, this challenge aims to raise awareness about the growing demand and need for cyber security expertise. During this gruelling 24 hour long competition, teams were tasked with gaining access to the computer network of a fictitious Australian business and obtaining confidential data. This year, team members were faced with dozens of often cryptic and highly complex mini-challenges. These challenges, devised by some of the nation's top security experts from the Australian Signals Directorate, tested a diverse and often unconventional skill set. Competitors required a great deal of endurance, team work and organizational skills to be able to complete these challenges.

Cyber Security is considered to be a topic of crucial importance to the nation, by the Australian government as well as the private sector. Nik Thompson was interviewed on radio by 6PR on Wednesday 7th May and the ABC on Friday 9th May to discuss this subject. Nik took the opportunity on air to promote our new and improved Cyber Forensics and Information Security major. This major has an increased technical and applied focus and course development has been informed by industry needs. As graduates from this course enter industry roles in coming years it is anticipated that our School's status as a leader in this domain will be reinforced.

"Big Day In" Tech Careers Conference

On the 8th of May, a delegation from the School attended a tech careers conference called the Big Day In.
The Conference, organised by the ACS Foundation and supported by the Australian Government Department of Communications, was held in the Perth Town Hall and was well attended by industry, academia and prospective students. In between talks by industry, the conference floor was bustling with prospective students visiting a range of exhibitor booths including Murdoch University, Google, IBM, Westpac, Microsoft, BankWest, Woodside, The Australian Police Force, Curtin University and Edith Cowan University.

The day provided important exposure for the School, and the opportunity for staff to interact with prospective students. The 3D printer generated considerable interest, as well as comments from high school teachers about its potential use in Computer Aided Design (CAD) courses.
The School extends its thanks to Leandra Corich for organising the School’s delegation, along with Peter Cole, Hong Xie, David Parlevliet, Christian Payne and David Murray for their participation in this event.

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Extracting Talent in the Northwest

During the week beginning May 5, Ken Seymour, Technical Manager, and PhD candidate Graeme Thompson, from the Chemical & Metallurgical Engineering & Chemistry discipline, ventured into the Pilbara and Kimberley regions to introduce students to the wonders of Extractive Metallurgy.

Ken and Graeme visited schools including St Luke’s College, Karratha Senior High School, Hedland Senior High School, St Mary’s College and Broome Senior High School. A special visit was made to Cassia Primary School in Hedland on Wednesday afternoon, where demonstrations and a mini-talk were done for about 40 Year One students.
Students in the High Schools were challenged as to why Extractive Metallurgists are important to our state and country. This was done by discussing what metals and minerals are important to our state, why they are essential and were also introduced to the economic significance of this industry. They were then encouraged themselves to become Extractive Metallurgists by extracting copper from an ore using the techniques of leaching, cementation and electrowinning (Hydrometallurgy). The chemistry involved in each step was discussed at a level suitable to their Year.

They were also entertained with an explanation and demonstration as to how different colours are produced in fireworks and how flame colours can be used to analyse solutions. Finally, they were treated to the high temperature and rapidly reacting Thermite reaction in which molten iron at over 2500 ºC was formed (Pyrometallurgy) and dropped into a beaker of water, causing the water to appear to burn. The Chemistry and use of this process was also discussed.

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In all, around 400 students from Years 7 to 12 were involved in the activities. The general reaction was one of enthusiasm, interest and wonder at a number of observations made in some of the experiments. The staff from all schools were very positive in their comments as to the effectiveness of the venture.

 A Communique from Your OHS Representative

Last week two of the schools occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Representatives, David Zeelenberg and Marc Hampton, undertook safety inspections of a number of labs and workspaces within the school. The results from the inspections were reported to laboratory supervisors, OSH and school management. Feedback from the inspections has been positive.

The strong safety culture of the areas inspected resulted in only small number of minor to moderate hazards being revealed. As a reminder to everyone, please try to limit storing heavy items above shoulder height and to those working with chemicals please store your chemicals appropriately and don’t forget to have an up to date MSDS for those chemicals (renew every 5 years).

The school is looking for more OSH representatives to support safety culture. To take up the honoured position of an OHS representative please contact Brad McKell (
Keep up the good work and keep on keeping safe!

Staff News in Brief

In April, Dr Kevin Lee had an invited research visit, hosted by Professor Danny Hughes of the iMinds-DistriNet research group, at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. The visit was to collaborate on a project for the control and management of groups of robots using lightweight middleware. The project combines work at Murdoch (with Graham Mann and Nicolas Small) for tracking the progress of robotic tasks, with the lightweight distributed middleware technology LooCi developed at iMinds-Distrinet

Successful School Projects - Small Grant Scheme

1st Chief Investigator

Project Title

Damian Laird First Steps toward synthetic sub-nano sized Galliun Cluster for Tunable Catalys
Gerrard Poinern Identifying intra & extracullar chemical constituents in Eucalyptus macrocarpa that direct the morphology of silver and gold nanoparticles
Graham Mann Arkaroola Robotics Challenge: Standardised Testing and Remote Monitoring of Field Robots
Lan-Chi Konigsberger Solubility and thermodynamic data of arsenic minerals
Linda Li Synthesis of hierarchically porous adsorbents for highly efficient phosphate removal
Martina Calais Improving Photovoltaic Systems Integration in Remote Diesel Networks
Mohammednoor Altarawneh A First-principle investigation into environmental fate and combustion
Nik Thompson Human Factors in computer security - a study of behavioural factors and home user security practice
Sinisa Djordjevic Development of a novel acoustically driven thin film deposition technique for solar energy applications
Brenton Clarke Robustness of Life Time censored data analysis with applications
David Parlevliet Growth of microalgae using a arrowed portion of the solar spectrum
Fairuz Shiratuddin A pilot study for measuring users' tasks performance using natural user interfaces (NUIs) in an interactive real-time 3D virtual environments (3DVE)
Gerrard Poinern A preliminary collaborative biomedical study aimed at delivering significant research outcomes too support an NHMRC project grant application in Feb 2015
Hong Xie An investigation into the relationship between driver's cognitive load and driver error in simulated road environments
Jonathan Whale Assessing the effect of a novel turbulence model on the structural loading and fatique of wind turbines
Liang Cheng Calcium carbonate gel and its application of soil stabilisation
Manickman Minakshi Effect of non-ionic surfactants and their role in intercalation in electrolytic manganese dioxide
Tania Urmee Identifying opportunities for improving livelihood of women through green business using solar PV initiatives in Myanmar
Zhong-Tao Jiang Enhancing the optical selectivity and mechanical durability of graphene oxide doped metal oxides & metal nitride nanocomposite synthesised via sol-gel spin-coating method