School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

July 2015

pic7 Jan News.jpg

I am pleased to present this month’s edition of the School Newsletter, and hope that you will be able to take a moment to review the School’s recent events and achievements even at this energetic time of year.

I must first reiterate my thanks and congratulations to all the School’s staff and student volunteers for their tremendous effort on Open Day – the University’s premier recruitment and community engagement event. Recent weeks have also seen the first signs of the School’s new strategic research directions coming to fruition, with the release of statistics from the 2014 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) exercise.

Also featured are some recent grant successes in Electrical Engineering, Energy and Physics, recognition of an outstanding performance in IT education research, industry partnerships for our Environmental Engineering students, a keynote address to the Asia-Pacific Model UN, and a visit to our MOU partner institute, the Shenyang Institute of Engineering.

Staff are also reminded of a couple of important safety matters, namely the correct operations and upkeep of laboratory safety showers, and the importance of having a current mobile contact number on the HR database, should a major incident occur on the campus. Last but not least, we recap on a group sojourn to the NCEDA research facility on the Rockingham campus, and the small beginnings of a home-grown pescetarian feast at ETC.

As always, I would like to encourage all of you to share your milestones and achievements – as well as those of your students and collaborators - with the School community by contributing to this newsletter.

Best Wishes,

Open Day 2015

Open Day, Sunday July 26, was a resounding success across the campus and our School was no exception. There was a steady flow of visitors to all stands, with very good feedback for all our areas. The vibe on campus was fresh, young and lively with a great injection of vibrancy. All of the School’s installations experienced a steady flow of interest, right up until closing time at 4.00pm, and very good feedback has been received already – with EEP securing two mid-year entry students before 10.15am.

Below is a small selection of photographs taken on the day.




Our Performance in 2014 HERDC

I am pleased to announce that the School has performed strongly in the 2014 Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) that measures the quantity of research produced at Australian Universities.

The Office of Research and Development recently circulated documents to the School Deans summarising the research performance of different areas of the University, including a list of the 100 best cited papers authored by Murdoch University academics as submitted to the ERA 2015. Among the top 100 papers were eight authored by academics associated with our School - including Mark McHenry, Gamini Senanayake, Glenn Hefter, Mark Lukas, Mohammednoor Altarawneh, Artur Deditius, and two by Linda Li.

McHenry 2009 Agricultural bio-char production renewable energy generation and farm carbon sequestration in Western Australia: Certainty uncertainty and risk; Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment
Senanayake, Kang, Sohn, Shin 2010 Recovery of cobalt sulfate from spent lithium ion batteries by reductive leaching and solvent extraction with Cyanex 272; Hydrometallurgy
Hefter, Turton, Hunger, Stoppa, Thoman, Walther, Buchner, Klaas 2009 Dynamics of Imidazolium Ionic Liquids from a Combined Dielectric Relaxation and Optical Kerr Effect Study: Evidence for Mesoscopic Aggregation; Journal of the American Chemical Society
Lukas, Bauer 2011 Comparing parameter choice methods for regularization of ill-posed problems, Mathematics and Computers in Simulation
Altarawneh, Dlugogorski, Kennedy, Mackie 2009 Mechanisms for formation chlorination dechlorination and destruction of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), Progress in Energy and Combustion Science: an international review journal
Deditius, Utsunomiya, Reich, Kesler, Ewing, Jough, Walshe 2011 Trace metal nanoparticles in pyrite; Ore Geology Reviews
Li, Wang 2010 Recent developments in reverse osmosis desalination membranes; Journal of Materials Chemistry
Li, Yao, Dong, He, Xu, Wang 2010 Contra-diffusion synthesis of ZIF-8 films on a polymer substrate; Chemical Communications

The Office of Research and Development have also released a table comparing the research publication count of the Schools from 2010-2014:

HERDC pubs count.jpg
These figures are very encouraging - and indicative of a nascent surge in research output. With the expectation that this trend will no doubt continue, it will consolidate an already respectable performance given our School’s relative size. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate all who are contributing to the effort to build upon our research excellence.

Meat Processing Grant Success - Two SEIT Projects Funded

Researchers in the EEP discipline, led by Dr GM Shafiullah and Dr Jonathan Whale, have secured two research grants from the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC). The projects, entitled Investigation into Voltage Optimisation Technology For Australian Red Meat Processing Facility, and Quantifying Energy Savings from In-Line Temperature Boosting of Steriliser Water Ring Mains at Abattoirs, will run through 2015 and into 2016.

The Voltage Optimisation project’s abstract describes its rationale as “Increasing/reducing and optimizing voltage levels to a controlled stable level at a facility not only reduces the cost of energy but also enhances equipment performance, prolongs equipment life, reduces maintenance costs and reduces GHG emissions. Voltage optimisation (VO) equipment has been used in a number of other industries and internationally but not yet within the red meat processing sector in Australia.” The major deliverables will be a Voltage Optimisation (VO) guide, including case studies from representative abbattoirs, and a VO fact sheet. The project work will consist of an extension of an existing literature review, as well as data collection and monitoring at two processing sites.

The Quantifying Energy Savings project’s abstract describes its aims as to “complete a desktop techno-economic analysis of the point of use water heating systems and their practicality”. The major deliverables will be a detailed report on the results of the techno-economic analysis, a model to evaluate the techno- economic viability of using onsite inline boosting, and a fact sheet on the energy savings from introducing inline or onsite hot water boosting systems.

Dr Tania Urmee and Adjunct Professor Christopher Lund will also be working on the project, along with SMEC Australia as collaborating investigators for the VO research.

InSITE Best Paper Award - Kham Sila Ahmad, Fay Sudweeks and Jocelyn Armarego

PhD candidate Kham Sila Ahmad, along with her supervisors Associate Professor Emerita Fay Sudweeks and Dr Jocelyn Armarego, received a Best Paper award in the Lifelong Learning category at the recent InSITE Conference, “Informing Science & IT Education”.

The paper is entitled Learning English vocabulary in a Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL) environment: A sociocultural study of migrant women.

Fay Sudweeks presented the work at the conference organised by the Informing Science Institute and hosted by the Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida. The paper was fast tracked for publication in the Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Life Long Learning, and can be viewed here.

Visit to Shenyang Institute of Engineering

Report by Dr Greg Crebbin

From Monday 6 July to Friday 17 July, I was a guest of the Shenyang Institute of Engineering (SIE). SIE is an applied undergraduate institute with Energy and Electrical Power as its leading professional areas. It consists of 13 schools and five teaching divisions. It offers two engineering Masters degree programs, 33 Bachelor degree programs and ten higher vocational programs in areas that include engineering, economics, liberal arts, management and law. Currently, SIE has a joint institution program with Red River International College in Canada that grants engineering diplomas in electrical power engineering.

The main purpose of my visit was to deliver a short course on Engineering Design to 21 students who are enrolled in the Centre of International Education's "Engineering Program of Murdoch". This program delivers the equivalent of the first two years of our Electrical Engineering majors. At the end of second year, the students either transfer to Murdoch University to complete a Bachelor of Engineering at Murdoch University, or else they transfer to one of the Bachelor of Engineering programs at SIE.


The short course included lectures and a design project. In the design project, students completed the design, simulation, building and testing of a band-pass active filter. Whenever I overreached the students' language abilities during the lectures, one of the SIE lecturers, David Huang, would take over as my interpreter. Four of the students in the class will be coming to Perth to start their EPE studies with us in 2016. They will join another four students who are currently in Perth taking language classes at MIT, and one or two other students who are awaiting visa confirmations. Hence there will be up to ten students from Shenyang in a new Murdoch cohort starting in 2016.

Because of changes in Chinese Government policy, this will be the final cohort of students coming to Perth under the old 2 + 2 articulation program. My visit included preliminary discussions, led by SEIT’s Dean, Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski and the Dean of the Centre for International Education, Professor Sun Xiaoyu, on a new cooperation agreement between SIE and Murdoch University that will be submitted to the Chinese Ministry of Education.

For me, the highlight of the visit was the remarkable warmth and hospitality shown by the staff and students of SIE towards Bodzio and myself.

Keynote Address at Asia-Pacific Model UN - Dr Christian Payne

On 3 July, Information Technology's Dr Christian Payne was invited to give a keynote speech at the Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference. The annual six-day event was for the first time held in WA at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

One of the questions considered at the conference was that of strengthening cyber security, and Dr Payne spoke regarding the issue of how the technical characteristics of cyber attacks create problems under the existing rules of international law.

Other invited speakers included Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi, Vice Chancellor of UWA Professor Paul Johnson, W.A. Australian of the Year (2015) Professor Lyn Beazley, and the Honourable Chief Justice Wayne Martin.

Environmental Engineering Students Bust Waste with Master Builders

Story from Master Builder Vol 12 No 2, Supplied by the Master Builders Association of WA

Master Builders’ waste reduction consultant Michael Norriss (centre) will work with Murdoch University students to redesign waste disposal processes.

Murdoch University environmental engineering students will be tackling real life construction waste issues on building sites thanks to a partnership with Master Builders and the Waste Authority. The seven third and fourth year students have visited three Right Homes’ sites in the Perth metropolitan area to review construction waste processes. They have been asked to redesign the processes to ensure that less waste goes to landfill.

If successful, the students’ waste management designs could be adopted. The construction industry has been encouraged to increase the recycling of waste by the recent doubling of the landfill levy rate from $28 per tonne to $55 per tonne. Further staged increases will see the levy increase to $70 per tonne in July 2019.

In the wake of the levy increase, we want to be able to go out to our members and assist them with information on the best waste practices available and this is where the students come in,” says Michael Norriss, a waste reduction consultant from Master Builders. “The students will be required to undertake research into how waste is currently disposed of on construction sites, identify what materials can be recycled and investigate the best practices in construction site recycling. We want them to find recycling practices that are the least time consuming, the cheapest and the most energy efficient.

We want them to work with recycling companies to identify recycling opportunities for materials that might not be widely known about or utilised.”

Mr Norriss said Right Homes is a market leader in sustainable homes and is keen to do the right thing in recycling, not just for business but for ethical reasons. “We hope any refinements to their practices because of the students’ work will be relevant for the rest of the industry,” he said.

Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski, Dean of the School of Engineering and Information Technology, said, the project aligns well with the school’s aims and objectives because students need industry-focussed learning experiences to prepare themselves adequately for the workplace. The students themselves are excited about the opportunities raised by working on the project.

Hopefully with good design we can help the construction industry reduce waste, save money and help the environment,” says Amar Zaghy. “It’s also a real life experience which is going to help us all after graduation. I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s incredibly interesting.

Fellow student Damien Arnaud said he was pleased to be working on such a big issue for the construction industry. “Landfills only have a finite amount of space and better management practices will have less impact on them, the environment and on builders,” he said. “I worked on domestic waste management for a company in Indonesia for a summer job so I have some experience of the sort of challenges we’ll face on this project. This, however, is on a much larger scale.

The partnership between Murdoch and Master Builders came about because of Environmental Engineering course leader Dr Martin Anda’s connections with the construction industry.

New Campus Emergency Response - Staff SMS Notifications

A new initiative is being led across the University for SMS emergency response notifications to be sent out to staff in the event of a major incident on the campus. In order for this to be effective, staff are asked to review their personal contact details on their HR record, and include a mobile number if one is not already recorded.

This is also a good opportunity to ensure that your mailing address details for payment summaries and emergency/next of kin contact details are also up to date.

Having a mobile number in your HR record also enables IT Services, via the online self-service password reset links, to send forgotten password details to you should the need arise.

To update your information, the steps are:

  • Log in to MyHR
  • Select MyHR > My Personal Information > Personal Contacts, and update the information.
  • Then, do the same for Emergency Contacts

If you encounter difficulties, the HR Helpdesk will be able to assist.

Responsible Management of Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment

By Marc Hampton, Senior Laboratory Technician

Emergency eyewash and shower equipment are a vital part of a safe laboratory environment. Such equipment is used for the emergency treatment of the eyes or body of a person who has been exposed to materials which may cause injuries. Failure of such equipment in an emergency could lead to serious injuries including debilitating burns and loss of vision.
These shower and eyewash facilities are inspected annually by the University to ensure conformance with the requirements of the Australian Standard. However, according to the same Australian Standard (AS 4775 -2007 Section 6.8 and 9.6) such units also need to be “ACTIVATED WEEKLY for a period long enough to verify operation” which “ensures that there is a flushing fluid supply at the outlet of the device, to clear the supply line of any sediment build-up … and to minimize microbial contamination due to sitting water”. With a documented risk assessment the weekly interval may be varied.

It is the responsibility of academics and laboratory managers to ensure that the emergency eyewash and shower equipment within their laboratories are in accordance with AS 4775 – 2007. To help facilitate this need a number of emergency shower testing units are available.

Please contact Marc Hampton (340 - Physical Sciences 2.013) or the Chemistry Technical Staff (340 - Physical Sciences 3.001) for access.

SEIT-Stacked Rockingham Road Trip to NCEDA

On Friday 10 July, a group visited the NCEDA desalination research facility on the Rockingham campus, organised by the Organisational Capability Unit as part of its “Know Your Campus” series of visits. The series offers staff an opportunity to experience parts of our University that they might not normally have access to.

Whilst the opportunity to visit NCEDA escaped the attention of most during the final weeks of first semester, the School mounted an eleventh-hour campaign to boost interest. Representatives from all four of our Discipline areas duly snapped up all but two of the available seats on the bus – with a couple unfortunately missing out this time around.

The group were greeted by NCEDA’s Chief Operations Officer, Sharon Humphris, who provided a brief history and overview of the Centre’s work. This quickly evolved into a detailed and enthusiastic Q&A session with input from NCEDA’s Commercialisation Manager, Tymen Brom, along with Chief Scientific Officer and our own Chair of Desalination and Water Treatment, Professor Wendell Ela.

After the introduction, the group donned 3D glasses to view an educational video on the history of desalination, and its current reach and processes. The delegation, which also included staff from the International Engagement and Educational Partnerships offices, were then shown through the indoor and outdoor pilot-scale research and testing facilities.
desal road trip.jpg
For those who were unable to pile in on the adventure this time around, NCEDA’s research facilities are also showcased in a video posted to their website.

Forthcoming “Know Your Campus” tours include the Chiropractic Clinic - you can view the upcoming offerings and sign up via OCU’s Training Course Management system here.

A Fishy Affair at ETC

Contributed by ETC's David Goodfield and Jan van der Walt

Staff, environmental engineering researchers and Murdoch community gardeners at the Environmental Technology Centre (ETC) have constructed an aquaponics system at the facility to showcase the potential for Australian backyards to incorporate sustainable living practices, such as growing vegetables and raising fish for consumption.
Sustainability is central to ETC’s function as a research and education centre. The six grow beds, for example, are discarded fridges that have been appropriately degassed and the fibreglass ponds have also been recycled, all of which are connected in a closed-loop system.


Both ponds contain fish whose biological output in the water is periodically pumped through the grow beds containing pea gravel which acts a growth medium for plants. Micro-organisms break down the fish waste products and convert them into nitrates and are taken up by the plants (nitrogen cycle). The system removes the majority of the nutrients that would otherwise build up, reduce water quality and hinder fish growth.

The fish, Silver Perch, should reach plate size within 12-18 months and the grow beds produce a variety of harvestable food all year round.