School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

August 2016


We have had another exciting month, with an enormous array of external engagement and activities bringing students to campus, visiting schools and attending festivals and open days. 

I would like to send a big “Thank you” to ALL who have organised and participated in the Science Week activities. You are too many to mention by name, but without you our School would not exist.

There have been fantastic turnouts at the Perth Science Festival, the Women in Physics Lecture and its supporting activities, the ATSE co-sponsored presentations on Global Food and Water at Applecross Senior High School, and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.

My special thanks go to Michelle Austin for her help with organising this all. Michelle is the University Outreach Coordinator – for us, she is also an honorary engineer, scientist and information technologist!

Congratulations to Ali Arefi and Graeme Hocking as the top two performing unit co-ordinators of Semester 1, 2016 in our School, and to Ali again for being the top teacher in the School in Semester 1. 

Remember, whether you are an academic, administrative or technical staff member, if you have a story to share please send it to the SEIT email - Please mention the article title in the Subject line of the email.

Best wishes,



Dr Nicola Armstrong

FutureHealth WA award - Dr Nicola Armstrong has received funding as part of Murdoch’s award from the WA Department of Health’s FutureHealth WA First Year Initiative: Supporting WA Health and Medical Research Mentoring Program. The award is to support her in improving the quality of future applications for competitive, peer-reviewed national and international grants.

Dr Aleksandar Nikoloski

Dr Aleks Nikoloski and Associate Professor James Kyle have been awarded a competitive research grant of almost $200,000 to develop new technology for recovering lithium from silicate rocks without the need for energy intensive roasting. The grant is funded by the WA government through the Minerals Research Institute of WA. The research at Murdoch will focus on purification of a solution produced by a novel leaching process developed in partnership with ANSTO Minerals and the production of potentially valuable by-products. 


Metallurgists on the Road - Again

Ken Seymour and Graeme Thompson once again hit the road (and the air) to take Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering to the school students of the North-West. Over the 5 days (25 – 29 July) they spent time in classes at St Luke’s College Karratha, Karratha Senior High School, Hedland Senior High School, Broome Senior High School and St Mary’s College Broome.

Presentations were given to classes from years 7 to 12. The lower years were extension classes in Science and the upper years Chemistry classes. In all 300 students participated in the presentations, with class sizes ranging from 11 – 38. Students were given some background of the mining industry, concentrating on metal extraction and associated processes and hands on activity extracting copper metal from a specially prepared copper ore (not quite 11 herbs and spices). They learnt about the importance of having a good technique to produce good quality copper, and about the chemistry behind each of the stages, with the depth of discussion varying according to year level.

The presentation finished with an explanation and demonstration of the Thermite Reaction along with an application of the process.
The feedback from staff and students was once again positive, with a couple of staff saying that on later review with their classes, that some students are now giving consideration to pursuing studying a Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering degree.

A couple of comments are included here:

We would like to thank you for taking your busy time off to come to our school and have engaging talks with our Science students.
All students appreciated both your informative talk and the activities that were given to them. We hope you can come back again and offer support to our students. Dhivahar Sri Ranjan KSHS Head of Science
As always, a very engaging workshop. I’ve spoken to a few of the students in the academic classes since you presented to them, who have commented that they are interested in the field of extractive metallurgy due to the information to which they were exposed. Cameron Ross HSHS Head of Science

Ken and Graeme would like to thank Rio Tinto for their sponsorship of the project and Murdoch University (particularly SEIT) for their continued support and time allowance take Murdoch University (SEIT) to students in regional areas. 

Article submitted by Graeme Thompson.

Singapore Media Forum 20161

Dr Florence Mwagwabi participated in Singapore Media Forum 2016, on a panel on Cyber-wellness Research in Action. The panel brought together the rich, pioneering and continuing efforts of such a distinguished group, to address the challenges of cyber-wellness education and cyber-security in Singapore.

The panel included well established researchers such as Assistant Professor Vivien Chan, from Nanyang Technological University and retired Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, Angeline Khoo.  Florence shared her research on cybersecurity and discussed trends, issues and challenges of cyber security and cybercrime.


Associate Professor David Maguire Journalism Chair, School of Arts, Murdoch University was also in attendance, sharing his perspective on the relationship between Murdoch in Singapore and Perth.

Insights into issues related to cyber-wellness and media education in the industry were shared with industry professionals from Singapore’s transport provider SMRT Corporation, Google Singapore, Media Development Authority as well as

The event was organized and hosted by Murdoch University (Singapore) and Murdoch University School of Arts, in partnership with Nanyang Technological University, and SIM University (UniSIM).


The sponsors include, Singapore Centre for Research on Innovation, Productivity and Technology (SCRIPT) and is one of Australia’s first research and development centres in Singapore established by Murdoch University, The Singapore Internet Research Centre (SiRC), SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) is Singapore’s premier multi-modal land transport provider, Taylor and Francis Group and

Related links:

Murdoch University Media Release:

Singapore Media Forum 2016 website:

Virtual Reality at the Perth Science Festival 2016

On Saturday, August 13, 2016, Dr Mohd Fairuz Shiratuddin, Associate Professor Dr Kevin Wong, Dr Alex Wang, Mr Shri Rai, Dr Hong Xie and Associate Professor Dr Hamid Laga (from the Discipline of Information Technology and IVES Research Group), were involved in showcasing Virtual Reality (VR) technology to the general public at this year's Perth Science Festival 2016, held at the Perth Cultural Centre.  This effort was made possible in collaboration with Mrs Michelle Austin, Murdoch's Outreach Coordinator and her team, to promote Murdoch University as a place to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics related courses.

VR is not a new technology, and the public is somewhat aware of its existence. However, recent advances in digital technologies have finally made VR possible for the general public. Deloitte Global recently predicted that VR will reach $1 billion dollars in sales of hardware and software this year.  Our showcasing of VR had many visitors at the festival flocking to Murdoch's tent. There was a long queue starting at the opening of the festival and continued well after the festival concluded at 4:00pm on the first day. Michelle and her staff needed to intervene and stop the queue growing to prevent an all-night demonstration. It was interesting to observe how intrigued people were when they were experiencing the VR environment.

VR is here to stay, and staff in the Discipline of Information Technology have started integrating it in a few research and development projects. 

Below are some pictures taken during the festival.


The physics cat is … alive! 

Hundreds of high school students enjoy “Women in Physics” day on Bush Court

Noel D'Souza running on non-Newtonian fluids will Dr Catalina Curceanu and Dr Kate Brookes look on.

Thanks to all staff members and students who helped make last Friday's “Women in Physics” event such a big success. It was a delight to welcome more than 500 high school students from 20 WA high schools to our University for a fun-filled day of physics. Activities included: a lecture “Quantum Technologies : the Offspring of Schrödinger's Famous Cat” by the winner of the Australian Institute of Physics 'Women in Physics' lectureship, Dr Catalina Curceanu; and a panel discussion “Physics @ University: Good for Me, Good for Society”, featuring leaders in industrial research, including Dr Sharon Eyer, Principal Research Scientist at Alcoa and Dr Stuart Midgley, Chief Technical Officer of DownUnder GeoSolutions, in addition to academics from UWA, Curtin and Murdoch.

A highlight of the day was almost 20 experiments and activities on Bush Court including some by UWA, Curtin and SciTech. A special thank you to staff and students not just from Physics, but also across the School as many of these activities were organised by our Murdoch colleagues from Chemistry, Mathematics and IT. 

Tara Millsteed, from Kelmscott Senior High School, summarised the success of the day – from the perspective of a Year 10 student: “The lecture was extremely interesting and fun, explaining Schrödinger’s cat, Quantum computers and much more. After the intriguing lecture we were able to wander around Bush Court at our leisure, watching fascinating experiments and learning all kinds of scientific facts. The highlights of our day were these interactive experiments, such as; a pool full of tapioca flour and water, the thermite reactions, and learning about the butterfly nanostructures. Personally I loved the tapioca 'Walk on Liquid' experiment! It was a lot of fun to run on top of and learn the science behind, especially when people fell in. This day was filled with the perfect combination of what a high school student wants: Free stuff, science, and fun activities. It was a great way to learn and I’d love to do it again!”

Beyond reaching out to our secondary school partners and to our fellow physics institutions in WA, the day also demonstrated the spirit within our School. Noel D'Souza, a SEIT undergraduate student who volunteered at the event, said “I certainly felt valued as a person to be invited as a helper with the 'walking on water' Bush court station for the Physics open day. Three hours of camaraderie with other helpers and making the visitors feel at home has made me feel a real sense of belonging to a community at Murdoch Uni, who have a joy in engaging with people.”
For the organisers, this is testimony that the day was indeed the celebration of physics and of science that our new Deputy Vice Chancellor Education, Professor Romy Lawson, declared it to be in her opening address on the day.

The AIP 2016 Women in Physics recipient Dr Catalina Curceanu, in front of one of her two packed lectures theatres.Our wonderful ‘physicists’ from chemistry conducting a super superconducting demonstration.

Women in Physics recipient: Catalina Curceanu, Physics international heart-throb: Brian Cox, Einstein-ien stunt double: Gerd

Further information

Lecture recording:
Murdoch University news item:

Australian Financial Review: Land of sun and surf leads the innovation charge

Professor Bodzio Dlugogorski was recently interviewed on ABC radio to talk about the current ARC Linkage project, which is running in collaboration with Dyno Noble. The project aims to develop a safe bulk explosive that eliminates all toxic cloud emissions of nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide (called as NOx) after a detonation. A post explosive blast currently emits clouds of toxic gas between 30 and 300 percent the recommended safe levels.

Little is currently known about how NOx is formed post blast. Our project has focused on combining different compounds with ammonium nitrate and looking at how these compounds react at the microscopic level. Through this process we are able to see the physical and chemical additives that lead to the formation of NOx after an explosion.

The challenge has also been to maintain the efficacy of the explosive, particularly with higher energy applications. Current testing involving soft soil has been successful and work is continuing to create an explosive that will also fracture and heave rocks simultaneously, which will ultimately make it easier to move rubble post blast and therefore also reduce costs.

By successfully eliminating toxic gases after an explosion, mining companies will not only be able to provide a much safer working environment for employees, but also reduce the millions of dollars associated with creating evacuation and exclusions zones and road closures that are currently required due to NOxemissions. Link to


ScienceNetwork WA article:  



Outstanding Unit Co-ordinators for S1, 2016

Special congratulations to Ali Arefi and Graeme Hocking as the top two performing unit co-ordinators of Semester 1, 2016 in our School.


Outstanding Teachers for S1, 2016

Special congratulations to Ali Arefi for the two performing teacher of Semester 1, 2016 in our School. Ali has gained the higher score of 5.94 in ENG317 Electromechanical Energy Conversion.