School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

March 2015

pic7 Jan News.jpg

I am pleased to present the third edition School Newsletter for 2015. It is a demanding time for students and staff alike, so all are to be commended for their contributions toward this vibrant and industrious School community.

As you know, the research assessment exercise of the Excellence in Research for Australia is in full swing. Submitting our statement to ERA for Engineering and Chemistry, we realise that, Engineering at Murdoch University has benefited from a reorganisation at the School level that has led to the co-location of the highly regarded Resources Engineering (Field of Research 0914) group and quickly developing Environmental Engineering (FoR 0907) group with the closely allied and equally regarded chemistry groups, particularly those contributing to Physical Chemistry (FoR 0306) and Macromolecular and Materials Chemistry (FoR 0303). Both are captured within the combined Discipline of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Chemistry. Close links in both research and teaching exist among the staff in these areas.

With the commencement of first semester, a major focus of this month’s newsletter is on achievements and innovations in teaching, as well as the exciting and timely rejuvenation of several facilities around the School.

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,

Materials Prize for Applied Nanotechnology Research Group

Dr Eddy Poinern and his research team, including Dr Derek Fawcett and PhD candidate Nurshahidah Ali, have been recognised in the Materials journal's annual Best Paper Award 2015. Dr Poinern's team secured second prize in the Review Paper category, for their piece Progress in Nano-Engineered Anodic Aluminum Oxide Membrane Development.

The Materials journal is among a group of open-access journals published by MDPI, a publisher working across a broad range of scientific subjects and who have headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The honour brings with it the publication of one research paper in Materials free of charge, following the peer review procedure. The winners were selected by Materials' Editors in Chief from all contributions published by the journal in 2011.

School Small Grant Scheme - Applications Due April 9

As part of its Research Strategic Plan 2014-2016, the School of Engineering and Information Technology has allocated funds in 2015 to support and encourage academic staff up to Level D (Associate Professor) to be actively involved in research and related activities that will increase quality research outputs across the School’s disciplines. The Small Grant scheme will be administered by the SEIT Research Committee, with representatives from all four Disciplines. Selection criteria will be based on quality of the application, expected outcomes, publications as listed in IRMA and grant applications with results, from 2012 until the time of submission. Submissions from research inactive staff will receive special consideration by the committee as the scheme also aims to assist such staff to achieve research active status.

Projects will be funded up to $15,000 to maximize the number of projects to be supported. In exceptional cases, applications up to $20,000 may be considered. Allowable usage of the funds granted includes employment of personnel, purchase of equipment or consumables, and travel support related to the project, but not for teaching relief. Grant allocations must be expended by mid-November 2015 and will not be carried forward.

The same project must not be submitted to both University and School Small Grant Schemes. If you are applying to both schemes, the projects must be distinctly different.

Applicants should submit their applications to Mrs Rosie Price by Thursday, 9th April.

Murdoch Students Win BASF Asia-Pacific PhD Challenge

The School is pleased to announce that two Murdoch University PhD students, one from our Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Chemistry discipline, have won the BASF Asia-Pacific PhD Challenge, which tasks participants with tackling the world's future mobility challenges.

Sofia Chaudry and Ashiwin Vadiveloo fought off competition from four other teams in the finals of the Challenge with presentations on their innovative PhD projects which aim to cost effectively produce biofuel from microalgae.

Ms Chaudry and Mr Vadiveloo were the only team from Australia in the finals, which took place at the BASF regional headquarters in Shanghai, China earlier this week.

BASF sq.jpg

Ashiwin Vadiveloo (left) and Sofia Chaudry with Dr Harald Lauke, President, Advanced Materials & Systems Research

Mr Vadiveloo’s PhD project involves maximising the productivity and growth of microalgae through the use of certain colours of the solar spectrum while diverting the remaining solar energy to photovoltaic devices that generate electricity to run the equipment needed to make biofuel.

Ms Chaudry is designing a process which repetitively extracts hydrocarbons from Botryococcus braunii – a species of microalgae – for her PhD. This process is known as milking and will make microalgae reusable.

They were teamed together and mentored for the competition by their co-supervisors who are world-renowned experts in these fields – Professor Parisa Bahri and Dr David Parlevliet from the School of Engineering and Information Technology and Dr Navid Moheimani from the Algae Research and Development Centre of the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences. Their work represents an ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration between the two Schools in an effort to further optimise the production of biofuel from microalgae.

As competition winners, Ms Chaudry and Mr Vadiveloo will now travel to the BASF International Summer Course in Germany in August 2015 and the Global Science Symposium Shanghai in November 2015.

Welcome to Dr Sebastian Zander

Sebastian Zander received his Dipl.-Ing. degree in Applied Computer Science from Technical University Berlin Germany in 1999. From 1999 to 2004 he worked as R&D engineer in the global networking group at Fraunhofer FOKUS, Germany. In 2010 he received his PhD in telecommunications engineering from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Since 2010 he has been a research fellow, and since 2014 he has been a lecturer at Swinburne University of Technology.
ZANDER Sebastian.jpg

Sebastian's main areas of research are network measurement and network security. His research work includes methods for machine learning-based automated network traffic classification, analysis and detection of covert channels (network steganography), charting the IPv4 to IPv6 protocol migration, as well as analysing and improving the performance of the TCP protocol. Sebastian has co-authored over 40 journal and conference papers, and is a co-author of two IETF RFCs.

Welcome to Dr Alex Wang 

Xuequn (Alex) Wang obtained his BE in Computer Science from Civil Aviation University of China in 2006. Then he went to US and received his M.S. in Management Information Systems (2008) from Oklahoma State University, and his PhD in Information Systems (2012) from Washington State University. Then he went back to China and worked as a Lecturer for two and a half years.

Xuequn Wang.JPG

His research interests include human-computer interaction, social networking, knowledge management, and idea generation. In particular, he tries to examine how people's different types of motivation influence their subsequent behaviours, as well as the social and technical factors which can support different types of motivation.

Dean's Awards for Excellence in Teaching - Semester 2, 2014

I am pleased to announce the winners of the Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching for Semester 2, 2014. Two awards are being made based on the Unit and Teaching survey results from semester 2. The first award is for the top Unit Survey score based on student responses to the statement “Overall I was satisfied with the quality of the unit”. The second award is for the best overall score across all compulsory questions in the Teaching Surveys.

Dr Nik Thompson won the award for overall student satisfaction for ICT353 Advanced Business Analysis and Design, which scored a very impressive 5.8/6. The award for the best overall score in teaching surveys was also won by Dr Nik Thompson for his teaching in the same unit. Congratulations to Nik, who will be awarded additional research funding for the year.

The following units, ordered by Unit Code, finished in the top quartile for overall student satisfaction in Unit Surveys:

  • CHE256 Process Mineralogy - Artur Deditius
  • CHE349 Molecular Design - Kate Rowen
  • ENG193 Introduction to the Minerals Industry – Dan Churach
  • ENG346 Process Control Engineering II – Linh Vu
  • ICT218 Databases - Danny Toohey
  • ICT264 Wireless Networks - David Murray
  • ICT265 Knowledge and Information Security - Richard Boddington
  • ICT333 Information Technology Project - Peter Cole
  • ICT347 Advanced Network Design - Mike Dixon
  • ICT501 Business Analysis and Systems Development Approaches - Tanya McGill
  • ICT504 Computer Forensics - Richard Boddington
  • ICT517 Advanced IT Study Project - Lance Fung
  • ICT619 Intelligent Systems Applications - Lance Fung
  • ICT622 Information Technology Strategy - Peter Cole
  • MAS161 Calculus and Matrix Algebra - Amy Glen
  • MAS164 Fundamentals of Mathematics - Helen Middleton
  • PEC390/590 Energy Systems - Trevor Pryor

The following colleagues’ Teaching Survey results were in the top quartile of teaching surveys in the School for the semester:

  • David Henry for CHE145 Introduction to Chemical Concepts
  • Sujeewa Hettiwatte for ENG125 Circuits and Systems I
  • Kevin Lee for ICT170 Foundations of Computer Systems
  • Danny Toohey for ICT218 Databases
  • Tanya McGill for ICT501 Business Analysis and Systems Development Approaches
  • Michael Chong for MAS164
  • Graeme Hocking for MAS182 Applied Mathematics
  • David Parlevliet for PEN120 General Physics
  • Mario Zadnik for PEN152 Principles of Physics

The School has a very good reputation for the commitment it makes to the quality of its teaching; thanks to everyone who works so hard to maintain and improve that reputation.

LaTTE-IT: Learning and Teaching Talks for Engineering & IT

The School has instituted a series of Learning and Teaching Talks (LaTTE-IT), an opportunity for colleagues to share and discover some of the many innovative and exciting things that are happening in learning and teaching, in an informal setting. Dr Chris Creagh has taken on the task of organising the sessions.

The first LaTT took place on Thursday March 12, featuring presentations by Dr David Parlevliet and Dr Gareth Lee, Electrical Engineering, Energy and Physics. David’s presentation discussed ways to identify plagiarism and collusion in student work, and steps that staff can take when these matters arise.
Gareth’s presentation drew on his own experiences in his second year electronics unit, ENG297 to demonstrate some ways of getting the most simple and effective performance from the Moodle platform.

LaTTE-IT sessions will continue on an occasional basis throughout the year. The inaugural session was recorded using the Lecture Capture system for staff who were interested but unable to attend - please contact if you would like access to these recordings.

JCEC WA Postgraduate Research Excellence Award

Two of our PhD candidates, Sidra Malik and Rorie Gilligan, represented the School in the Engineers Australia WA Joint Chemical Engineering Committee’s Postgraduate Research Excellence Award, held on Monday 9th March.

This award showcases the postgraduate research work being done in the area of chemical engineering in WA, and is supported by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and all four public WA universities. The award was judged by industry representatives as well as chemical engineering academics, and on this occasion was won by a Curtin University student. 

JCEC Rorie and Sidra.jpg

Sidra Malik and Rorie Gilligan at the JCEC Postgraduate Research Excellence Award

New Al-Fresco Amenities for the School

Some of you may have noticed some improvements to the surrounds of the buildings occupied by the School. During the summer period, the undercover area outside the Science and Computing common room has been refurbished with some modern built-in furniture, and some bench seating has been installed to the breezeway at the western end of Bayliss Court, within Physical Sciences.

Bayliss Bench.JPG  SC Al Fresco.JPG

These improvements, championed in 2014 by the School Manager Rebecca Treloar-Cook, were made with the aim of providing enhanced collaborative spaces for both staff and students using the School’s facilities, as well as broadening the options for organised and informal School activities such as Be a Met For a Day, Orientation and student society gatherings.

A second phase of improvements is also in the pipeline for the outdoor areas adjacent to Physical Sciences and Science and Computing, in particular raised edging to the garden beds that will provide much needed seating to the area outside the Robertson lecture theatre. Work on this project commences shortly and is expected to be complete before the end of first semester.

Long-Awaited Refurbishment of Physics Teaching Lab Space

The first classes in the newly refurbished Physics teaching laboratories, PS2.029 and PS2.028, have taken place in the opening weeks of semester.

Until now, the laboratories PS2.028 and PS2.029 had seen only minor refurbishment since the building was built, for example when the lino flooring wore out or when the bench-tops became so warped that they were covered with board. In recent years, these labs have not facilitated learning and teaching as well as they could because of outdated services, storage and audio-visual technology.
Big Physics Lab.JPG

Physics Teaching Lab 2.028

The new lab design will enable PS2.029 to house more students than before the refit, and the new AV system will allow students to present their findings from any work-station or computer connected to the system. This creates an opportunity to use each lab as a collaborative learning environment.

Small Physics Lab.JPG

Physics Teaching Lab PS 2.029

The new renovations will enable both labs to meet the objectives of the University in providing safe, modern, fit-for-purpose learning and teaching spaces. They will increase efficiency and productivity by storing equipment necessary for teaching where it is needed. The upgrade will also demonstrate to accrediting bodies, such as the Australian Institute of Physics, the University’s commitment to high quality learning and teaching in the discipline of Physics and Nanotechnology.