School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

November 2015

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Welcome to the November newsletter. As always it has been a busy month. As we start to wrap-up the end of 2015, we start to think about 1st Semester 2016 and, of course, have a welcomed holiday in between. But even during this busy time, we still find the time to do so much more.

Here are just a few of the notable things that took place during November.

  • Dr Manickam Minakshi Sundaram was awarded the 2016 Endeavour award for his research into Sodium-ion batteries. See below for more info.
  • Associate Professor Lance Fung was awarded the 2015 R10 Outstanding Volunteer Award for his many years of service. See below for more info.
  • We welcomed Dr Duncan Farrow into his new role of Associate Dean for Courses and Admissions in our School.

I am sure you will all join me in congratulating Dr Minakshi, Professor Fung and Dr Farrow on their achievements.
During November we also had some notable visitors.

Professor Robert Faff (University of Queensland Business School) visited Murdoch and presented a seminar on “Pitching Research”, where he raised the questions:

  • How can we help novice Researchers overcome the despair of feeling totally clueless and utterly lost at the beginning of their research journey?

Or, alternatively,

  • How can we help time poor and heavily over-committed Research Mentors overcome the despair of feeling totally confused and mentally swamped by excessive, random and disconnected ideas created by their junior research partners?

Available at SSRN:

We were also pleased to welcome to Murdoch, Dr Gerd Schroeder-Turk’s PhD student, Fabian Schaller, who was visiting from his base in Germany. Fabian gave a seminar covering his work on random packings of particles, their analysis by X-ray tomographic 3D microscopy, and their relationship to jamming and granular. Thank you to Fabian for his insightful presentation.

On the 23rd we welcomed Dr Qingsong Wang (Director of Industrial Fire team and Vice Director of Department of Safety Science and Technology at State Key Laboratory of Fire Science, University of Science and Technology of China). Dr Wang delivered a presentation on Lithium ion battery thermal runaway, fire behaviour and prevention.

Our Information Technology students presented their ICT333 projects, to industry professionals, fellow students and academics in the Robertson Lecture Theatre. The presentations were followed by an early evening networking opportunity in the Murdoch Tavern, which was well attended. Well done to the 12 teams involved for their hard work, enthusiasm and their projects.

Remember, whether you are an academic, administrative or technical staff member, if you have a story to share please send it to Teresa Ratana at

Best Wishes,



Dr Mehdi JangiA warm welcome to Dr Mehdi Jangi (pictured left), who has recently commenced in the School as Lecturer in Combustion Engineering.

Mehdi Jangi received his Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1999 from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran, and his Master degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2001 from Amirkabir University (Tehran Polytechnic), Tehran, Iran. In 2005, after a period of working as a mechanical design engineer in oil and petrochemical industries, he moved to Japan to continue his study. He received his Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering in 2009 from Tohoku University, Japan. Mehdi won the JSME (The Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers) award for his excellent fundamental study in droplet combustion under microgravity conditions.

After working as a postdoctoral researcher in Gent University in Belgium, he joined the division of fluid mechanics in the Department of Energy Science at Lund Technical University (LTH), Sweden, in October 2009. In 2013 he received his Docent degree, which is the highest academic degree in Sweden, and is equivalent to the Associate Professor level in US academic system.

Mehdi’s research interests focus on computational fluid dynamics, turbulent reacting flows, two-phase flows, and modelling of combustion and fire. He has co-authored in excess of 20 articles in high-impact journals, along with numerous conference papers and he has an H factor of 7.


Mathematics & Statistics

This year’s Frank Hansford-Miller Fellow of the Statistical Society of Australia Inc. (WA branch) — Prof Adrian Bowman (University of Glasgow) presented a talk as part of the (irregular) Maths & Stats Seminar series.

Interested Mathematics and Statistics academics, Professor Ian James and Bethy McKinnon from the Infectious Diseases Institute, Professor Bruce Gardner from Physics and the WA specialist in spatial statistics, Professor Adrian Baddeley, from Curtin University were also attracted to the seminar.

Our speaker Adrian Bowman was impressed with the setting and commented that ‘great decisions could be made in this room’. In passing he also explained the proper Scottish pronunciation of Murdoch. It’s hard to write down but involves a guttural sound said so eloquently in the Scottish brogue. But Adrian is no slouch in presentation either, he delivered a slick presentation involving animated graphical images with sophisticated discussions of drawing lines on three dimensional objects, such as human faces, when we see only two dimensional surfaces in pictures. The detailed mathematical and statistical analysis (since faces have variation as you can imagine) was motivated by the problems surgeons face when trying to operate on persons with unusual bite. The objective was to predict what an operation on the face (cutting from around the neck and peeling the face, breaking and resetting the jaw bones and relaying the face), would potentially look like in the end product given that every face is different and each operation required an individual prediction based on facial images before the operation.

In further discussion he alluded to analysis of MEG data for locating points in the brain responding to visual stimuli. The seminar attracted questions from applied mathematicians and statisticians, with many people seemingly getting in on the act. It was great to see the response to the seminar on top of Adrian Bowman's successful presentation to a large and interested audience at the local Branch of the Statistical Society of Western Australia November meeting, where he presented a successful talk and received the Frank Hansford Miller Fellow Medal, in honour of his acceptance of the biennial Fellowship award made by the Branch for a visiting UK statistician to visit our shore. Among other things Frank was a part-time tutor in his retirement at Murdoch University and an avid Applied Statistician. His generous bequest made this visit possible and I'm sure that the visit by Adrian to Murdoch University has benefited many and will have positive spin offs for both Adrian and the people he has met and talked to on the way.

Article submitted by Brenton Clarke

How bridge building might help your knees. Written by Rob Payne - originally published by Science Network WA

o Osteoarthritis sufferers may find viable treatment based on mathematical analysis
o Bridge-building engineering principles offer insight into joint cell repair
o Future treatment scenario to factor in walking style and BMI

THE STRUCTURAL engineering principles used to build safe bridges could help prevent osteoarthritis in the knee, research suggests.

Common and debilitating, osteoarthritis occurs when the joint’s cartilage wears away leading to increased friction between bones. Currently there are no treatments aside from pain relief or replacing the affected joint such as the knee or hip. However, an international team led by Murdoch University Professor Bruce Gardiner and UWA Professor David Smith is developing mathematical engineering models drawing on the structural reliability analysis which engineers apply to bridges.
They say this approach could advance our understanding of how osteoarthritis evolves and how a person might modify their lifestyle to prevent onset.

“Our basic idea is that biological systems are so complex we can’t understand them through traditional clinical approaches, which involve mapping networks and linear relationships,” Prof Gardiner says.
“There is too much going on and too much feedback into the system.”

The only rationale way to access how these systems work is via the mathematical approach of physics or engineering. This approach is informed by models such as fluid flow, chemical reactions and mass conservation and offer constraints on the ways a system can behave.
For example, the researchers have begun to model how cartilage cells repair damage, including extracellular matrix (ECM) production—molecular secretions that offer structural support to surrounding cells.

When put under cyclical loading, such as with walking, cartilage produces ECM, but under a static load, like standing, it does not.

The researchers are keen to better understand the relationship between mechanics, the hormonal environment and the chemical environment.

“Cartilage acts like a sponge, so [when you stand] fluid squeezes out of it, the cells get compressed, the tissue is being strained, and it stops its production,” Prof Gardiner says.
“If you go for a walk, you’re squeezing fluid in and out, the cells are producing more ECM, they’re getting flushed with growth factors and nutrients and they’re getting rid of waste products—a much healthier situation. “But if you go overboard, you start wearing your cartilage away.”

Finding a balance for healthy cartilage is likely different for each person, which makes feeding more input into the models vital.

“We want to be able to say: this is how you walk, this is your joint size and BMI, we can get your genome and finally here’s a prediction about the best strategy to keep your knees healthy,” Prof Gardiner says.

Notes: The work is the recipient of an NHMRC project grant.

Article submitted by Bruce Gardiner


Series of innovative energy storage materials published in Dalton Transactions in 2015

The energy storage and conversion, from small-scale to large scale, including batteries, fuel cells and supercapacitors addresses the sustainability of our planet. Dr. Minakshi and his group have used advanced materials such as modified manganese oxide, cobalt molybdate and sodium phosphate as electrodes in the energy storage systems. This has resulted in the advancement of scientific knowledge in the area of renewable energy and has been published in a three separate journal articles in Dalton Transactions in 2015. The development of sodium transition metal phosphate and molybdate with special emphasis on structural changes and novel synthetic approach can underpin technological advancements in small renewable energy harvesting and power generation technologies. The characteristics of the fabricated device such as improved storage capability, cycling stability, safety and economic life - cycle cost made this an attractive alternative to conventional charge storage devices using more expensive materials. Sodium is found to be the most attractive for battery and supercapacitor applications and viable alternative to lithium.

Series of innovative energy.jpgSuch contributions to a high quality journal like Dalton Transactions will strengthen our capacity in the energy and electrical engineering discipline while bringing both teaching and research innovations within the School.
In collaboration with Uppsala University, Dr. Minakshi et al. coined a new material NaMn1/3Co1/3Ni1/3PO4 with the most stable configuration (pictured here). This material served as an electrode in hybrid sodium - ion capacitor using non-aqueous electrolyte. The designed hybrid device can deliver energy density 50 Wh/kg at a power density of 180 W/kg with an efficiency of 95% over 1000 cycles tested in the lab. This could be suitable for off-grid and micro grid applications in storing renewable energy.

Article submitted by Dr Manickam Minakshi Sundaram


Murdoch University Science Club
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A small group of newly appointed and research active staff at Murdoch University has initiated a Science Club. The main purpose of this club is to facilitate collaborations both within the School as well as fostering external links. During our meetings scientific topics as well as funding applications are discussed.
Everyone is welcome to propose a discussion topic, present their own work, or to try and resolve a scientific problem, get an opinion about a grant application or scientific idea, provide advice on a data analysis approach or choice of scientific approach etc.

We aim to keep the Club casual and to make the meetings interactive, where asking questions is expected. Presentations are therefore held as discussions restricting the use PowerPoint slides (though exceptions can be made). Instead, we use old school pen and paper (or whiteboard/marker), which allows for more in-depth analysis of the topic or concepts being presented.

Presently, the meetings are held irregularly, depending on the demand and members’ interest.  The club is open for everyone, from any discipline or indeed any School.  There are 25 subscribed members in the club.  Some Club members pictured above (from left to right) Dr Almantas Pivrikas, Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch, Professor Bruce Gardiner, Dr Drew Parsons, Dr Erich Koenigsberger, Dr Lan-Chi Koenigsberger and Dr Elaine Walker.

If you are interested in joining or attending the meeting, please email Almantas Pivrikas ( with a request to include your email on the mailing list.

Article submitted by Dr Almantas Pivrikas


Australian Water Association Undergraduate Water Prize 2015

On Thursday the 12th of November Murdoch University had three student representatives (pictured below with Professor David Morrison, from left to right) Luke Murphy, Chenoa Lange and Ashwin Nayak competing in the Undergraduate Water Prize for the Australian Water Association (AWA) Western Australian Water Awards that was hosted by GHD. These students were selected based on a project completed at University that was relevant to the water industry.
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All three students were from the Environmental Engineering program at Murdoch University. 
They were judged on;

  • Relevance of proposed ideas to the water industry
  • Quality of technical content
  • Innovation and originality
  • Their final presentation and report on the topic

Each finalist presented their topic to the judging panel with enthusiasm, which was an extremely exciting and rewarding experience for all parties involved.

Ashwin’s project was in collaboration with Josh Byrne and Associates and involved designing and building a greywater Genysis rig to measure the performance of a greywater diversion device that measures the quantity of water output from a household in correspondence to the pump output. The project was sponsored by Sam Milani of AWWS.

Chenoa Lange presented her Sustainable Urban Water project where she worked in a group of three students including Aled Lewis and Melissa Gray. Their project was to come up with a sustainable water solution to combat the growth from 500,000 to 800,000 visitations per annum within 20 years on Rottnest Island. The main features of this project included CETO wave technology and stormwater management for the Island. The project was sponsored by the Rottnest Island Authority with particular support from the RIA’s supervising Environmental Engineer Holly Knight.

Luke Murphy’s presentation was also a sustainable urban water project working with Chad Harris and Laura Senge where they came up with a different approach to ensure a sustainable water future for Rottnest Island as it transitions from 500,000 to 800,000 visitations per annum. The solution includes addressing the potable water demand by introducing guidelines to ensure new and existing infrastructure can be supported through greywater onsite treatment and distribution for non-potable sources and a comprehensive pipeline upgrade. It also focuses on investigating new technologies such as iron bacteria removal and forward osmosis to enhance the sustainability of potable water production on the Island as well as a localised self-sufficient eco camp to provide alternative amenities throughout remote locations on the Island. Again, this project was sponsored by the Rottnest Island Authority with particular support again from the RIA’s supervising Environmental Engineer Holly Knight.

On completion of the presentations there was an opportunity for each student to meet with industry professionals and receive feedback on their presentation skills and possible further research on certain areas of their report. Overall, from the students’ perspective, the accomplishment and chance to present to professionals who do this type of work day in day out was both exciting and daunting but worth every bit of it.

On Friday the 20th of November the Western Australian Water Awards were held at the Duxton Hotel in Perth’s city centre. Each finalist was invited to attend and be part of a night surrounded by likeminded people who could let them in on what the industry is like. The awards were beginning to be announced and the three Murdoch students became nervous as it was anyone’s chance to win. Upon announcement Luke Murphy won the 2015 Undergraduate Water Prize on behalf of his group’s efforts in compiling the presentation and report for the Rottnest Island sustainable expansion project.

Overall I would recommend any opportunity such as this to a student who is passionate about their work and would like the experience not only for their resume but for themselves to grow into what the future industry is needing.

Article submitted by Luke Murphy

The ‘Face of Murdoch’ Campaign

The process of compiling student profiles for the 2017 undergraduate prospectus is underway and we are looking for students to feature.
The ‘Face of Murdoch’ campaign will be run again this year in order to attract students. If you know of any stand out undergraduate students (domestic or international), please get them to apply to be a profile via this link
Also, if you know of any notable alumni from your area who studied an undergraduate degree and who have an inspiring story to tell, please pass on their contact details to

Article submitted by Michelle Thompson


School Travel Grant Scheme

The School Travel Grant Scheme has been up and running since July this year and is open to all staff in the school – academics and professional staff alike. It provides contributions towards conference travel, providing that the staff member will be making an active contribution at the conference and that no other travel funds are easily available.

Please email Teresa Ratana through the School Administrative email address of for an Application form.  Once complete the Application should be submitted via the same email address.

Questions about the scheme directed to Gerd Schroeder-Turk on

Professional Development Day for Chemistry Teachers in CMEC

Professional Development Day.jpgA successful professional development day for secondary school chemistry teachers was held on 5th November. The event was a culmination of efforts by Science Outreach Officer Michelle Austin, who recognised the need for such an activity through contacts received from chemistry teachers in the local community. The Year 11 and 12 chemistry curriculum now incorporates applications of chemistry in analysis, including mass spectrometry, chromatography (HPLC and GC) and atomic spectroscopy. Michelle saw the need for chemistry teacher professional development and that Murdoch could help. Michelle also did a fantastic job coordinating the logistics on the day, which was considered a pilot for regular teacher professional development activities such as this and potential school student visits. Chemistry lecturers from CMEC (Dr Kate Rowen, Dr Leonie Hughes and Dr Damian Laird) developed and facilitated sessions on mass spectrometry, chromatography, and atomic spectroscopy using instrumentation in our chemistry labs. Nineteen teachers from Carine SHS, John Tonkin College, Leeming SHS, Living Waters Lutheran College, Frederick Irwin Anglican College, Corpus Christi, Melville SHS, Applecross SHS, and Rossmoyne SHS attended and received a certificate of completion.
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The pilot was funded by the Science Outreach Office with teachers receiving printed materials, morning tea and lunch free of charge. The School of EIT also provided a bag of Murdoch and EIT information and material to each participant. Additional funding was provided by AVC Andrew Taggart to conduct research in conjunction with the pilot programme.
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The research component was carried out in collaboration with Science Education Lecturer from the School of Education, Dr Amanda Woods-McConney. The purpose of the research was to evaluate the chemistry activities and learn from the teachers about their professional development needs. Data for the research was gathered through two surveys (pre and post activities) and audio-recorded focus groups. This information will inform our chemistry outreach so that we can provide highly relevant activities and resources to teachers and their students. Participant feedback from the surveys and focus groups is yet to be analysed, but the vibe on the day was upbeat. Teachers made many positive remarks throughout the day about the relevance of the activities to their teaching and their enjoyment of the hands-on experience.

Article submitted by Dr Kate Rowen

Flying Drones / UAV’s for Research and Teaching

Do you have an interest with Flying Drones / UAV's for Research and Teaching?

Then register with Ian McKernan via email

Walls of Whiteboards

Walls of Whiteboards.jpgIf you had tutorials in the rooms SC3.039 or SC3.040, you would have noticed the appearance of new whiteboards on the walls in the last few weeks of second semester. This equipment was installed through the generous support of a SEIT Equipment Grant. Both rooms now have walls covered by six whiteboards.
Tutorial rooms with walls of whiteboards have been used for student-centred activities by the Mathematics Department at La Trobe University since the 1970s and this innovation has been taken up with success at The University of Melbourne and The University of Sydney1. SEIT Mathematics and Statistics staff now have the opportunity to “flip” their teaching style and introduce more active tutorial participation for our students. First year students in particular may benefit from this initiative.

How could this be done? Students would be able to work in groups on given mathematical problems, each group working at a section of whiteboard. Teaching staff would be able to see common mistakes, repeated errors in logic and presentation and guide students in improving their work. Students would be encouraged to work with others, sharing knowledge, and importantly understanding the value of good preparation for their tutorials.

Our Mathematics and Statistics staff met recently to explore possible new approaches to tutorial work, using these walls of whiteboards. They tried out working on problems standing at the whiteboards as students would do and experienced the ambience of working with others on problems when not tied to a desk. It was a noisy affair!

The teaching approach incorporates the following points:
• Whiteboard group sizes are at most three.
• Within each group, students use different coloured markers so that individual contributions can be noted.
• Work during the tutorial is done by the students helping each other, learning how to craft their own mathematics with expert (tutor) assistance available.
• Full solutions are provided at the end of the tutorial.

The type of learning available using this method cannot be duplicated online or in individual study, so tutorials can provide a learning experience that only such a tutorial can deliver. There is also the option of forming larger classes using multiple teaching staff in the room.
It will be interesting to see how these rooms with walls of whiteboards are used in tutorials in Mathematics and Statistics and by tutorial groups from other disciplines also held in SC3.039 and SC3.040 in 2016.

Article submitted by Helen Middleton


IEEE Region 10 (Asia Pacific) Outstanding Volunteer Award

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is the world’s largest professional association, with one third of the world’s literature in the electrical, computer science and electronics disciplines are published by IEEE. IEEE has more than 430,000 members in 160 countries of which over 100,000 members reside in Region 10 (Asia Pacific).

Emeritus Professor Lance Fung has been a long time IEEE member with over 20 years of service at various committees in the IEEE WA Section, Chapters, Technical Society, Region, Council and IEEE HQ. In 2015, he is a member of Board of Governors in the Systems, Man and Cybernetics (SMC) Society; New Initiatives Committee; Global Strategy Ad-hoc Committee; Technical Program Integrity Committee and the Signature Program Evaluation Committee. He is also the Immediate Past Chair of the IEEE Australia Council and Immediate Past chair of IEEE WA Section and many other portfolios in the past decades. In 2014, he was nominated as one of the candidates for the R10 Director-Elect 2015-16. The IEEE R10 Director recently approved the recommendation by the IEEE Awards and Recognition Committee to grant Emeritus Professor Lance Fung the 2015 R10 Outstanding Volunteer Award for his many years of service. This is to recognise his excellent achievement and contribution to the profession.

Article submitted by Associate Professor Kevin Wong

Sodium-ion Battery Researcher, Dr Manickam Minakshi wins Endeavour Award

Dr Manickam Minakshi is the recipient of a 2016 Endeavour Award for his research into Sodium-ion batteries.
Dr Minakshi’s Endeavour Executive Fellowship is worth $15,000 and will fund a two month visit to Uppsala University in Sweden where he will continue to develop his research into renewable energy storage devices with collaborators.
His research made headlines internationally three years ago when Dr Minakshi and Murdoch colleague Dr Danielle Meyrick announced that their water-based sodium-ion battery had shown potential for affordable, low temperature storage for large scale use, including storing energy from wind turbines and solar farms.
“Issues such as the environment, the rapid increase in fossil fuel prices, and the increased deployment of renewable energy sources, provide a greater need for the development of electrochemical energy storage, especially for large-scale applications,” said Dr Minakshi.
“Materials research and computational modelling play a key role in making further progress in the field of energy storage and the Endeavour fellowship will give me the opportunity to research and test further the battery technology we developed.”
The Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are funded by the Australian government to support citizens around the world to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia and for Australians to do the same overseas.
iPREP Award to John Xie

John Xie, a PhD candidate of Environmental Engineering under the supervision of Dr Linda Li, Emeritus Professor Goen Ho and Dr. Lucy Skillman in School of Engineering & Information Technology, had been awarded iPREP (Industry and PhD Research Engagement Program) scholarship for Round 2, 2015.

In this program, John Xie was working with Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) on Scour Investigation Project. He was involved in the investigation of potential seabed erosion around marine structures at the Port of Port Hedland, development of feasible solutions to address the issue and preparation of a business case to present to PPA’s Executive Committee.

Article submitted by Professor Goen Ho

ARC-LIEF 2016: Equipment for Advanced Surface Analysis

ARC1 PMG format.pngNeutral Impact Collision Ion Scattering Spectroscopy (NICISS) and Inverse Photoelectron Spectroscopy (IPES) research equipment, in a new state of art facility for surface characterisation in Australia, are based at Flinders University.

NICISS and IPES measure concentration depth profiles and electronic structure of surfaces. The depth resolution of the profiles is in the order of the distance between two neighbouring atoms in a solid or liquid and is the best currently achievable from any surface science technique.
Murdoch University is a partner in collaboration with Flinders University and UNSW for the use of this facility to pursue novel and high quality research of international standing.

ARC2.jpgThis will support research activities in:

  • Thin film coatings (optical, thermal-mechanical, biological functional coatings)
  • Combustion (chemical and physical processes with gas-solid interactions)
  • Corrosion (surface phase changes in various physicochemical situations)
  • Colloid surfaces and interfaces (biological membranes, liquid interfaces)
  • Catalysis (photocatalysis, thermal catalysis, electrocatalysis)
  • Polymers (polymeric nanocomposites and nanocarriers)
  • Photovoltaics (inorganic, organic and composites)

We encourage Murdoch academics and postgraduates to use the facility to supplement their research projects.
For more details, please contact:
Zhong-Tao Jiang (
Mohammednoor Altarawneh (

Article submitted by Zhong-Tao Jiang