School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

October 2015

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Welcome to the October newsletter.  Please take a moment to read the opportunities for staff and students, and familiarise yourself with the School Fire Safety Wardens and First Aid Officers. They are the people that will help in an emergency and provide a valuable service to the School and University.

In this edition there are interesting articles on conferences attended by colleagues, overviews of engagement activities that the School has participated in, from local events to international, research being undertaken in the School and much more.

In September we officially farewelled three staff members, Associate Professor Lance Fung, Dr Trevor Pryor, and Dr Pyara Dhillon, who have all retired from academic life to enjoy a well-earned break from the pressures of academia. On their retirements, Lance has been awarded the title of the Emeritus Professor and Pyara has been bestowed with the title of the Emeritus Associate Professor. Please join me in congratulating Lance and Pyara!

Please join me in congratulating Dr David Parlevliet in his promotion to Senior Lecturer. David has had strong research and teaching records, including PhD completions, grant success and publications in top ranked journals. His research record is very impressive, especially in light of his significant teaching commitments. Well done David!

Whether you are an academic, administrative or technical staff member, if you have a story to share please send it to Beck Potocznyj at

Best Wishes,


A warm welcome to Teresa Ratana who is the acting Academic Support Officer (Research and Higher Degrees) whilst Rosie Price enjoys long service leave overseas with family. Rosie will return in early January.

Teresa is originally from the UK and has a love for all things rugby. She joins us from the Neurosciences Unit at Graylands Hospital and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and experience. Please make her feel welcome


Mathematics & Statistics

Coexistence of both gyroid chiralities in individual butterfly wing scales of Callophrys rubi

The research article ‘Coexistence of both gyroid chiralities in individual butterfly wing scales of Callophrys rubi’ was published on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) website and was submitted by: Benjamin Winter; Benjamin Butz; Christel Dieker; D Gerd E. Schröder-Turk; Klaus Mecke; and Erdmann Spiecker. Congratulations to all!

Twist Not Shout: Some green butterflies exhibit an amazingly complex labyrinth-like nanostructure. While the chirality of this nanostructure does not seem to be relevant for insect communication, it does reveal details about the structure formation process.

The so-called gyroid is a three-dimensional maze or labyrinth that is highly ordered. In several green butterflies, the gyroid is realised as a solid structure made of chitin and acts as a biophotonic crystal. In the green hairstreak, it is this nanostructure that causes the green coloration, even though the chitin material it is made from is not green.

How exactly the butterfly forms this complex nanostructure is an enigma, of relevance to both inner-cellular biology as for biomimetic strategies for self-assembly. The gyroid has been proposed as a photonic material for optical devices.

The handedness or chirality (the geometric helical appearance) reveals some insight into the formation mechanism. A preference for one of the two handedness is observed, with left-handed gyroid occurring more often than right-handed ones.

It turns out that this rules out the molecular chirality of the constituent molecule, chitin, as the cause of overall chirality, at least in a commonly assumed membrane folding model. These findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and represents joint work between the SEIT Mathematics and Statistics group and an electron-tomography group in Germany.

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Article submitted Dr Gerd E. Schröder-Turk


2015 Cyber Challenge

The Cyber Security Challenge Australia (CySCA) is a ‘hacking’ competition run by an alliance of the Australian Government, businesses and academic professionals. The competition is Australia’s only national cyber security competition and is a team based competition, open to all universities and technical colleges and runs over 24-hours.

This year Murdoch entered 3 teams that worked from 10am on the 30 September through to the close of the competition on the 1 October. At the end of the completion Murdoch was placed 4th across the participating Australian universities and ranked 1st in WA.

The score board can be found here:

There are many sub challenges that the students complete and are scored on including: network and web application vulnerability testing; analysing memory dumps; programming; reverse engineering code; and analysis of network packet captures.

The students who took part were: Alex Martin; Semjon Khozjainov; Colin Watson; Jaxom Nutt; Man Fu; Emma Rigelsford; Michael Baker; Jack Carruthers; Ilja Shevelyov; and Dylan Van Oss.

Dr Nik Thompson has organised run Murdoch University’s 'Hack the Planet' information security ethical hacking club since 2012 and students of this club participate in the Cyber Security Challenge Australia.

News of the win for Murdoch in WA reached the Acting Vice Chancellor who congratulated the students on their win.

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Article submitted by Dr Dave Murray

Professor Adrian Bowman - Visitor to Mathematics and Statistics

Professor Adrian Bowman of the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Glasgow, will be a visitor to the discipline of Mathematics and Statistics at Murdoch University between the 16th and 27th November.

He is a guest of Dr Brenton Clarke who is the Chair of the Frank Hansford-Miller Fellowship Committee and Adrian is this year’s Fellowship winner.

Professor Bowman grew up in the seaside town of Prestwick in Scotland and went on to undertake studies in Glasgow and Cambridge, firstly in Mathematics and then in Statistics. He started his academic life at the University of Manchester and subsequently moved to Glasgow, where he is now Head of the School of Mathematics & Statistics.

He is the joint-author of a book on smoothing techniques and is active in research particularly in the areas of environmental modelling, the analysis of anatomical shapes and of brain images. Professor Bowman has a longstanding interest in educational technology, particularly in the role of graphics in aiding the understanding of statistical ideas.

During his visit to Perth Professor Bowman will be delivering the second Frank Hansford-Miller Fellowship Seminar at the November meeting of the WA Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia Incorporated. On the 26 November he will deliver a workshop entitled "An introduction to flexible regression for environment data" at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA sponsored by Murdoch University.

After his visit to Murdoch, he will travel to Hobart as an invited speaker to the Australasian Regional Meeting of the International Biometrics Society before returning home.

The Frank Hansford-Miller Fellowship is awarded biennially to a statistician from the UK to visit Perth. The funding for the visit is awarded through the WA Branch of the Statistical Society of Australia Incorporated.

Please make Professor Bowman welcome if you see him in and around the School.

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Article submitted by Dr Brenton Clarke

Geometry shapes up to materials science at two conferences co-organised by SEIT

Two conferences in Germany in September, co-organised by Gerd Schröder-Turk from the Discipline of Mathematics and Statistics, highlighted the role of geometry and mathematics for materials science and nanoengineering.

'Geometry and Physics of Spatial Random Structures' (Bad Herrenalb, 7 - 11 Sept) focused on the role of spatial statistics and stochastic geometry for materials ranging from granular packings to porous materials.

'Shape Up: Exercises in Materials Geometry and Topology' (Berlin, 14 - 18 Sept) focused on ordered nanostructures, their formation principles, functions and properties.

In combination, the conferences included a total of 24 keynote lectures, over 50 talks, poster sessions and around 180 registered participants.

The success of both conferences is recognition that many questions in nano or microstructured materials are closely related to the various sub disciplines of three-dimensional geometry.

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Article submitted by Dr Gerd E. Schröder-Turk

2015 STEMFest - Saskatoon, Canada

STEMfest is an annual international festival of science, technology, engineering and mathematics that in 2015 took place in Saskatoon from the 28 September to the 1 October. The combined conference delegation and expo attendees numbered around 10,000 – 6,000 on one day alone.

This year STEMFest focussed on “Skilling a nation’s future; aligning STEM with future skills needs.”

The School (on behalf of the University) had a big presence at the conference with school representatives Dr’s Nik Thompson and David Parlevliet representing the School and Carol Ghandour from the International Office meeting students of all ages and conference delegates and general greater ‘global engagement’.

The 3D printed robots and infrared camera attracting people to the display and certainly generated a lot of interest - especially from the younger generation who were fascinated by the demonstrations.

Overall the event was a great success and promoted the Murdoch brand, and cemented some solid leads with potential undergraduate and postgraduate student enquiries that are currently being followed up. Thank you Nik, David and Carol.



Temasek Polytechnic Students

Lim Wan Sin and Teo Jing Fang are students in the Green Building & Sustainability program in the School of Engineering at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore. Martin Anda met with their program chair Mr Augustine Thong in Singapore to discuss the articulation of their program into the Environmental Engineering program at Murdoch University.

As a result of these discussions a partnership approach was formed that enables students from Singapore to come to Perth for a short placement for their final year thesis. During this placement students work on a ‘live project’ connected to industry which for Lim and Teo was the Central Park building on St Georges Terrace in Perth.

The main objective of the car park heat exchanger project was to investigate the idea of utilizing the heat in the basement car park for other uses, and to evaluate the effectiveness of this system. Heat in the basement carpark will be recovered by Air Source Heat Pumps and used to heat up hot water for restaurants to use, while the cold air source heat pump leaving air will be channelled to the cooling tower, heat pipes and cold rooms.

It is hoped that the strengthened relationship will enable other polytechnic students to see a future articulation into the Environmental Engineering program and in the future students from Environmental Engineering here at Murdoch possibly undertaking industry-focussed projects in Singapore.

This helps to reduce the electricity used to heat the water as well as reduce the cooling capacity of the building. The students completed this study while staying at Murdoch University for 8 weeks and found that for the Central Park building case study it was possible to realise around $400,000 pa in electricity cost savings.

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Lim Wan Sin and Teo Jing Fang

Article Submitted by Dr Martin Anda

E2015 RACI Heads of Chemistry Meeting

Representatives and Heads of Chemistry Departments from across Australia met at Flinders University to discuss a range of issues including the RACI Accreditation program that was trialled in 2014 at the University of Melbourne, University of New England, Macquarie University, and Griffith University.

Details of the accreditation process were provided and included a list of areas that require improvement. The RACI accreditation is outcomes based and aligns with TEQSA requirements. The RACI is currently looking for additional accreditors to participate in the current round.

Peter Bury gave a presentation from The Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association (PACIA) outlining the industries strategic road map. PACIA represents ~ 100 business members from the plastics and chemicals industries that contribute $11.2 billion to Australian GDP and provide materials for 109 of the 111 industry sectors in Australia.

In addition to industry members CSIRO, the University of Melbourne, Monash University, UNSW and Deakin University are also members. Unfortunately industry obtains only 2% of their innovations from universities and PACIA are looking at ways to improve investment in Chemistry, Chemical Industry and the Chemical Supply Chain through improved communication and partnerships with universities.

Current initiatives include the Green Chemistry Centre (Monash) and outreach programs (62 projects, 55 companies, 2.5 years). PACIA have also started funding a PhD program this year.

Presentations were made by Professor Scott Kable (UNSW) and Professor Paul Mulvaney (University of Melbourne) on ARC LIEF bids and the Decadal Plan for Chemistry (respectively).

The final presentation was from Professor Greg Metha (University of Adelaide) on Teaching Focussed Chemistry Academic Staff. A general discussion followed and each department identified with having 1 – 3 teaching focussed academics. It was proposed to develop a forum for teaching focussed chemistry academics to assist them in circulating information relating to chemistry education and developing collaborations for OLT grants, Chem Ed division, ASELL, Samnet, Chemnet etc.

If you would like any additional information on the above items please contact Dr David Henry who represented Murdoch at this year’s meeting.

Article submitted by Dr David Henry

India - International Recruitment Initiative

During the second half of August, Peter Cole from Information Technology carried out an international recruitment drive in India. During the two weeks Peter visited seven universities and took part in five different recruitment expos. Not an insignificant task.

At most of the Universities Peter presented to audiences of between 50 and 300 students and at KIIT and Chitkara Universities met with the Vice Chancellors and senior academic staff respectively to discuss research cooperation and articulations to allow students to come to Murdoch in various masters programs.

The attractiveness of the degrees offered by SEIT is highlighted in the graph below that shows that at the recruitment expos courses from SEIT were the most popular - in comparisons to offerings from other schools at Murdoch. Interestingly, undergraduate enquiries are on the rise in comparison to the last time such a recruitment drive was undertaken in India.

Most importantly however is that the two year masters programs are in heavy demand and as such tapping into this market has the potential to increase SEIT’s postgraduate cohort significantly.

Article Submitted by Mr Peter Cole


2015 WA Citation Ceremony

Associate Professor Tanya McGill, from the IT discipline, was recently awarded an Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Tanya received the only OLT Citation for Murdoch University for 2015.

OLT Citations are awarded to staff that have made long-standing contributions to the quality of student learning and to improving the overall student experience, and recipients receive $10,000 to further enhance their contribution to student learning.

Tanya was awarded the citation for her sustained commitment to undertaking and publishing research on information technology education and e-learning that informs teaching and enhances student learning. The citation was formally presented at a ceremony in Perth on September 30.

Article submitted by Associate Professor Tanya McGill


SERC Scholarship Opportunities for Students

Review the range of scholarship opportunities the Space Environment Research Centre (SERC) has for exceptional undergraduate (4th Year), HDR and Master Students.

Scholarship opportunities are available in a range of space science related fields, including:

  • Mathematics
  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Dynamic database management
  • Adaptive optics
  • Astrodynamics
  • Geomatics
  • Photonics
  • Laser Engineering
  • Laser guide star adaptive optics
  • Laser physics
  • Satellite positioning

Visit to download form or contact Ellen Schwab via email


SERC Scholarship Opportunities for Invitation to join the 2016 Learning and Teaching Certificate

We would like to thank all Schools and TNE Campuses for their support of this year’s Learning and Teaching Certificate. Following the current pilot, CUTL, in association with the School of Education, has confirmed the availability of the Certificate to Murdoch staff in 2016.

Murdoch is a subscribing institution of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Learning and Teaching Certificate has been planned to enable staff to meet the requirements of the HEA’s recognition scheme for staff who teach or support learning in universities. CUTL's intention is to award HEA Fellowships directly to Murdoch staff who complete the Certificate; this is subject to a successful outcome in the current accreditation round.

The invitation to join the Certificate is open to all Murdoch University staff with a role in teaching / supporting learning who are interested in the development of effective learning and teaching practice. The course is likely to be of interest to newly appointed staff in both early career and more senior roles as well as current, experienced Murdoch staff.

There will be two information sessions organised for anyone interested to meet the team delivering the Certificate. These can be joined face-to-face or online.

2nd November 2015 – 2pm to 4pm at Library level 4, North Wing, Room 4.040 and
9th February 2016 – 10am to 12noon at Library level 4, North Wing, Room 4.040

Interested staff should contact to book a place at one of these events, stating the date and whether face-to-face or online.

All the information, together with a course calendar, can also be found on the CUTL website. Early application is encouraged and the availability of places will be restricted; the application window will close on February 16th 2016.


Get to know your SEIT Fire Warden and First Aid Officers:

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