School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

September 2015

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I am pleased to present this month’s issue of the School of Engineering and Information Technology newsletter.

I would like to congratulate Dr Piotr Kowalczyk who has just published a paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, one of the top journals of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Drs Mohammednoor Altarawneh and Zhong-Tao Jiang have won two research grants funded by the Australian Innovative Research Universities and the Malaysian Research University Network (IRU-MRUN) Collaborative Research Programme.

One of our PhD scholars, Mrs Sridevi Brundavanam has recently been selected for the “Industry & PhD Research Engagement Program” organised by iPREP WA.

The Research Engagement Program is a newly implemented collaboration program between the five WA universities and Industry, aimed at providing doctoral candidates with Industry experience and enhanced career opportunities.

Associate Professor Lance Fung has returned from Hong Kong and Thailand after visiting several Universities to enhance our research collaborations and to attract new high quality PhD students to Murdoch.

Ken Seymour and Graeme Thompson visited schools in the Albany region as part of our very successful outreach BAMFAD program (Be a metallurgist for a day). The program introduces year 9-12 students to the science involved in extracting metals from their ores. Our industrial partner, Rio Tinto, has sponsored this activity for 3 years.

If you have good stories to share with all of us in the School, whether you are an academic, technical or administrative staff, please send them to Beck Potocznyj at

Best Wishes,

American Chemical Society 'Perspectives'-Dr Piotr Kowalczyk

Please join me in congratulating EEP’s Dr Piotr Kowalczyk, whose research work titled Nuclear Quantum Effects in the Layering and Diffusion of Hydrogen Isotopes in Carbon Nanotubes has just been published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. Piotr has collaborated with Thomas Miller and others.

As part of the publication, Piotr was also invited to present his results as part of ACS’ LiveSlides series, to showcase their findings in multimedia formats in order to enhance their impact and reach.

IRU-MRUN Collaborative Research Programme

Drs Mohammednoor Altarawneh and Zhong-Tao Jiang have won two research grants from the Collaborative Research Program funded jointly by the Australian Innovative Research Universities (IRU) and the Malaysian Research University Network (MURN), on the Fabrication of Graphene-Based Flexible Supercapacitor from Electrospun Nanofibers and, the other, on Improved Solar Selectivity of Mixed Metal Oxides Incorporated with Graphene.

Fabrication of Graphene-Based Flexible Supercapacitor from Electrospun Nanofibers

Carbon nanofibers assume promising applications in a wide array of applications. The purpose of this project is to address and fine-tune properties of carbon nanofibers. Via combined theoretical and experimental approach, the project aims to design doped hydrophilic functional groups with carbon nanofibers that have the potential to increase their electrical conductivity. Mohammednoor and Zhong-Tao intend to build a flexible and light-weight graphene-based supercapacitor.

Improved Solar Selectivity of Mixed Metal Oxides Incorporated with Graphene

This project intends to produce efficient solar selective absorbers from novel metal-oxides/carbon composites. Various candidate materials (such as 3d metal oxides) will be tested against performance and mass commercialisation potential. Expected outcomes will establish fundamental links between the doped graphene and the novel solar absorbers. On the theoretical sides, the team will survey the change in electronic properties of pristine graphene adsorbed on metal oxides surface.

SEIT student selected for the "iPREP WA Industry & PhD Research Engagement Program"

SEIT PhD Candidate Mrs Sridevi Brundavanam, has recently been selected for the “Industry & PhD Research Engagement Program” organised by the Industry and PhD Research Engagement Program WA (iPREP). This program, a newly implemented collaboration between the five WA universities and industry, aims to provide doctoral candidates with industry experience and enhanced career opportunities.

Sridevi holds her Master of Science (MSc) in Space Physics from Andhra University, India, and joined the Murdoch Applied Nanotechnology Research Group (MANRG) as a research assistant in 2007.

In 2011, she was awarded a Murdoch University PhD scholarship in Physics and Nanotechnology under the supervision of Dr Gerrard Eddy Poinern and Dr Derek Fawcett. During her PhD, she has gained comprehensive knowledge and skills in nanomaterials synthesis and characterization, and has recently submitted her thesis titled “Synthesis, Characterization and Deposition of Nano-Hydroxyapatite Coatings on Bio-degradable Magnesium for Potential Orthopedic Applications”.

Sridevi has contributed to several research projects and written up her research findings in a series of journal publications. The iPREP award will allow her to work with “Citic Pacific Mining” as a part of her Industry & PhD Research Engagement Program.

Based in Perth, CITIC Pacific Mining forms part of CITIC Limited Company that manages the construction and operation of the Sino Iron project to secure a long term stable source of quality materials for the Chinese special steel mills. CITIC Pacific Mining one of the largest companies in the Hang Seng Index and is the biggest conglomerate in China. The Company is spearheading the growth of a new industry in Australia through the large-scale mining of magnetite iron ore. Their desalination plant is one of the most innovatively built plants of its kind anywhere in the world.

Murdoch's Merely Mad Muddled and Meandering Metallurgists Meddle in Albany Region

On Monday 24 August, Ken Seymour and Graeme Thompson (CMEC) hit the road to Albany in preparation for four days of information and activity sessions with High School classes in the local Albany region. Ken and Graeme’s activities included students in Years 9 – 12, and involved 40 – 90 minute sessions. Over the five days, Ken and Graeme visited six schools: St Joseph’s College; North Albany Senior High School; Great Southern Grammar; Albany Senior High School; Bethel Christian College; and Mt Barker Community College. They met with 260 high school students plus another 50 primary students at Mt Barker Community College who came to watch the so-called Thermite Reaction in action.

The students’ activity challenge was to extract copper from a finely crushed copper ore sample. They used the techniques of leaching, decanting, cementation and electrowinning. The students were asked to make observations, explain what they saw, and what caused the reaction. For example, the solution in the acid leach was blue due to the presence of Cu2+ ions.

Ken and Graeme discussed and explained the science associated with these processes to the students. This enabled the students to gain a deeper understanding of some of the concepts involved in the industry. One challenge with the students’ electrowinning method was the powdery nature of the copper produced by the students, which was easily removed by wiping the electrode.

An example of quality electrowon copper was shown (a sample that Graeme made whilst the students were hard at work), indicating that a lot of care and study need to go into production of good quality copper. The session finished with an explanation and demonstration of the Thermite Reaction being done inside our especially constructed safety cabinet.

In addition to these activities, Ken and Graeme led a presentation and discussion on topics relating to the mining industry. The meeting discussed career opportunities, the economics of the industry and important metals and minerals associated with Western Australia along with their uses. A very brief introduction to our Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering concluded the presentation.

Multiple copies the Murdoch University Prospectus and numerous course flyers were left for the schools to provide students with information.

A warm thank you to Rio Tinto for providing sponsorship.
Submitted by Graeme Thompson Co-ordinator BAMFAD

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Ken and Graeme showing that they are ALL CLASS with these Year 10 students from Albany Senior High School (Ken is the handsome one)

Thailand and Hong Kong Universities Visits and Seminars

The Information Technology Discipline in the School has a long association with several institutes in Thailand with a good number of our HDR alumni now holding various senior positions at their home institutes.

From 23 August to 6 September, Associate Professor Lance Fung visited and presented seminars at Walailak University, Mahasarakham University and Rangsit University as well as holding discussion with each of the Dean of the ICT Faculty at each university.

Lance also visited CloudAsia Co. in Bangkok to discuss potential projects for the National Broadcast and Telecommunication Commission, based in Thailand. On 7 and 8 September, Lance conducted a PhD oral examination and presented another seminar at the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Hong Kong Polytechnic.

Submitted by Associate Professor Lance Fung

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Seminar at Mahasarakham University

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Seminar at North East Digital Content Centre

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Workshop at Walailak University

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Seminar at Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Engineering & IT Careers Evening 2 September 2015

The School and University held an Engineering and IT Careers Evening on Wednesday 2nd September which was attended by 42 people. There was a great atmosphere and attendees had direct access to our academic staff. There was lively discussion and conversations during the Q&A time.

The presentations appeared very informative, as judged from the interest of prospective students. It was a successful evening.

Thank you to all who supported the event, and to the coordinators and presenters.

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WIMWA Event ("Woman In Mining Summit")

WIMWA Event was held on the 11th September 2015, Perth and representing SEIT at this event this year was Lia Cherico and Jade Sciberras.

With over 500 people in attendance, this year’s WIMWA Summit focused on Challenges, Resilience and Opportunity. A fantastic selection of talented and inspirational speakers motivated the audience by sharing their past experiences and professional expertise.

Sabina Shugg, who is the founder of WIMWA and one of the presenters, addressed the topics of resilience and opportunity and how these common characteristics guided her through her career. Seizing opportunities, mindfulness, setting targets and communicating change were common talking points throughout the seminar presentations.

The atmosphere of the event broadcasted a sense of togetherness as each individual in the audience could personally relate to the presenter through similar experiences or situations. Overall, this WIMWA seminar was an educating and social event that should not be missed next year.

Submitted by Jade Sciberras

Australia Universities Educational Experience Comparison

The Australian Government’s new Quality in Learning and Teaching (QILT) website went live in September. This website enables prospective students to compare courses across universities in Australia. This data shows that the courses offered in the School rank very highly in the state, but importantly also very highly when compared to other universities in the group of Innovative Research Universities (IRU) – to which Murdoch belongs.

Our students rank the overall quality of their educational experience as the best in Australia when compared to other IRU universities.

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Science & Mathematics
Our students rank the overall quality of their educational experience in Science & Mathematics as equal 1st in Australia (86.3%) compared other IRU universities.

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Information & Technology
Our students rank the overall quality of their educational experience in Information Technology as 2nd in Australia compared other IRU universities.

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Reconciliation Action Plan

Murdoch University's RAP has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia and the University will now begin working towards achieving the goals set out in the plan. An informative presentation was presented to the School in September and is available online for reference (see below).

These goals will be achieved through actions in the areas of: Governance; External Engagement; Human Resources; Teaching and Learning; and Research.

The entire University community is encouraged to read the plan and embrace its spirit as Murdoch University, and its people, contribute towards closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.

The RAP will soon be available on the Murdoch University and Reconciliation Australia websites.

Fire Safety and Combustion Kinetics Research Group

The Murdoch University, Fire Safety and Combustion Kinetics Research Group were recently hosting workshop and symposia in collaboration with Perkin Elmer. The event, titled “The Perkin Elmer Spotlight on Innovation” was conducted on 7th of August 2015. Around 26 attendees from Universities, companies and laboratories joined the workshop, including Murdoch University staffs and PhD students.

The symposia consisted of two sessions, morning talks from three presenters on the range of techniques and projects for material characterization and the afternoon workshops on TGA and FTIR Microscopy. In session 1, the guest speaker, Bill Van Bronswijk from Curtin University presented the topic of “A very short history and latest developments in infrared spectroscopy”.

Following this, Dr Chuang-Fong Kong from Perkin Elmer talked about spotlight 200i, FTIR microscopy applications, as well as new lambda UV family and UV applications. Dr Scott Fraser delivered the last talk covering the TGA8000 hyphenation and application. In the afternoon session, the workshop took place at the Fire Safety and Combustion Kinetics Laboratory where Perkin Elmer introduced and demonstrated two newly launched instruments, an FTIR microscope and new TGA. The participants were discussing, observing closely and trying the new features of the instrument.

The photos illustrate the activities during the demonstration.

Submitted by Juita Juita

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For Students

Forrest Research Foundation Scholarships
The Forrest Research Foundation Scholarships Applications close on Friday 30 October, details are available in the link below.