School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

May 2016


As the May issue of the School Newsletter is published and we look forward to semester one drawing to a close (perhaps not the marking involved), I hope you can spare a moment or two to review our news and achievements over the past few weeks and what we have on offer in the coming months.

So to start, I know you will all join with me in extending a very warm welcome to Dr Phil Schneider.  Dr Schneider will join us from James Cook University (JCU), Townsville where he was a Senior Lecturer.  He will be part of the CMEC team as Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering.  Read more about Phil’s background below.

Congratulations also go to the three IT student teams, who have made it through to become finalists in the Best Student Project of the Year category of the 25th WAITTA INCITE Awards.  Read more about who they are and what they are doing below.  I would also like to acknowledge the support and contribution of the SEIT staff who have worked closely with the teams. They are Mr Shri Rai, Dr Fairuz Shiratuddin, Dr Hong Xie and Mr Kevin Ong (Tutor). 

We also have some information on an upcoming conference that our School is co-organising. “Animal, Vegetal, Mineral? Emergence and function of complex structure in biology and self-assembly” is an international conference that will be held at the Cavehouse Hotel in Yallingup from the 19th -23rd September. Dr Gerd Schroeder-Turk has been dedicating a lot of hard work and effort into the conference organisation and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

We also hear from Rorie Gilligan, SEIT extractive metallurgy researcher, about his FameLab experience.  Again congratulations to Rorie on his success in getting to the Finals.

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 SchneiderDr Schneider joins us from James Cook University (JCU), Townsville where he was Senior Lecturer.

He has taught into a wide range of subjects in the Chemical Engineering degree program and is a long-time guest lecturer at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi in Bangkok. Until recently Phil was the Chemical Engineering Course Coordinator at JCU, responsible for managing all aspects of learning and teaching in the JCU Chem Eng program. He is past Associate Dean (Engineering) and was a Faculty-elected member of Academic Board.

His current research focuses on the development of processes that will enable phosphorus recovery from human-generated waste streams. Since phosphorus does not cycle in nature, traditionally mined phosphorus must be replaced with more sustainable sources. The main aim of his research is to develop a clearer understanding of process fundamentals, so that we can more confidently design, operate and optimise nutrient recovery processes of the future. A pilot-scale nutrient recovery plant based on source-separated urine as the feed stream is on the near horizon. Phil has published 19 journal papers (Chemical Engineering Science, Chemical Engineering Journal, Water Research, Bioresource Technology, Powder Technology and others) and has published 21 conference papers.

Phil currently supervises 4 PhD and 1 MSc research candidates, and has 6 PhD completions and 2 MSc completions to his name. He has also assists with the co-supervision of PhD and MSc students at several collaborating institutions.

Professionally, Phil has been active as a panel member in the assessment of Chemical Engineering programs across the country through the Engineers Australia accreditation process and is now a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia. Phil is also a long-serving member on the Board of Directors of The Engineering Link Group (TELG), a not-for-profit group that aims to expose young people to the benefits of participating in the engineering profession. While this program has traditionally focussed on the east coast, Phil is keen to explore possibilities for rolling out these programs in Perth.


Sodium for Energy Storage Devices – published in Nanoscale (impact factor of 7.4)
Oxides and lithium transition metal phosphates have been researched for over two decades and many technologies based on them exist. Much less work has been done investigating the use of sodium phosphates for energy storage. In this publication, in collaboration with Uppsala University, the synthesis of sodium nickel phosphate at different temperatures is performed and its performance evaluated for energy storage devices. The electronic properties of polycrystalline NaNiPO4 polymorphs, triphylite and maricite, t- and m-NaNiPO4 (shown in below image) are calculated by means of first-principle calculations based on Spin-polarized Density Functional Theory (DFT).


DOI for the article: 10.1039/c6nr01179a

Article submitted by Dr Manickam Minakshi


Australian Research Council – Linkage Project Success

Safe, modern and efficient mineral extraction technologies underpin the prosperity of Australia. The extraction of minerals relies on the application of ammonium nitrate (AN) explosives, in particular ammonium nitrate emulsions (Figure 1) and high-energy-density ammonium-nitrate fuel-oil (ANFO) explosives; the latter made by mixing of 2-3 mm AN prills with fuel oil. The addition of AN prills to ammonium nitrate emulsions increases energy strength of the emulsion explosive, whereas the incorporation of bulking agents (i.e., slowly burning, such as recycled plastics) into ammonium nitrate emulsions induces the opposite effect. Unfortunately, some AN explosives, when detonated, generate clouds of toxic red-brownish NOx fumes.


Figure 1. Emulsion explosive (Turner et al., Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects 150 (1999) 171)

Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski, Dr Jeffrey Gore (Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific Pty Ltd) and Dr Mohammednoor Altarawneh will investigate fume resistant explosives for critical areas. Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific has recently developed a new formulation of ammonium nitrate emulsion explosive that provides excellent resistance against emissions of NOx fumes. The project aims to understand how the explosive works and expand its application to critical areas. We will investigate physical and chemical parameters of the key emulsion components and will formulate new blends for higher-strength applications. The research will characterise the surface burning process of AN prills and other materials to gain insights into possible NOx production and mitigation pathways.


Figure 2 (above). Typical fume emissions during blasting (Paul Thornley, Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific 2014)
Australian Research Council will fund the project in the amount of $570k, with cash and in-kind contributions from Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific Pty of more than $1m.

Teaching Grants Scheme 2016

As a result of securing a grant from the 2016 SEIT Teaching Grants Scheme we were able to purchase the Microsoft Surface Pro.

The Microsoft Surface Pro runs all the desktop software we rely on. It also enables us to write down notes and ideas during lectures and markings, using the Surface Pro Pen. In addition, this system is able to connect to other devices and accessories, like lecture room screens, using advanced wireless capabilities and has all the ports that we need. Moreover, students can explain their ideas and provide their comments directly on the Surface Pro and explain their ideas to others online. It is also possible for students to have a demonstration of the learning outcomes by running professional software on this device enabling students to share their simulations with the class, improving understanding of concepts for all students. In terms of assessment, students get feedback on their submitted electronic reports, faster and clearer. This system significantly saves paper consumption for lectures and marking, which is an additional benefit gained from the Surface Pro.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro and Wireless Display Adapter

Article submitted by DrAli Arefi


SEIT organises Australian Academy of Sciences' 2016 Boden Research Conference in Yallingup


Our School is co-organising the international conference “Animal, Vegetal, Mineral? Emergence and function of complex structure in biology and self-assembly”. It will be held at the Cavehouse Hotel in Yallingup from 19-23 September.

“Animal, Vegetal, Mineral?” will feature more than 20 international and domestic keynote lecturers and invited speakers, including world-leading experts in plant cell physiology, animal cell biology, soft matter physics, biophotonics, evolutionary biology, self-assembly and biotechnology, and complex geometry.

The conference is particularly, but not exclusively, dedicated to the discussion of the emergence and function of complex nanostructures in biological tissue and related synthetic soft materials. More broadly, the conference aims to be an open-minded exploration of the relations between growth, form and function in biological tissue and synthetic nanomaterials - bridging the traditional discipline boundaries between biology, chemistry, materials science, physics and mathematics. How useful are physics, chemistry, materials science –that usually deal with dead matter close to equilibrium– and abstract mathematics to explain living biology? How can biology be used to inform progress in physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science and biotechnology?

This conference has been selected by the Australian Academy of Sciences as the official 2016 Boden Research conference. It is the first meeting in this series to be held in Western Australia.

If you would like to submit an abstract for a contribution, please visit or speak to Dr Gerd Schroeder-Turk (Maths & Stats). It would be very nice to see our School well represented amongst the conference attendants.


Annual Western Australian ICT Award Finalists - Three Final Year Project Teams

Murdoch University has three project teams that advanced to the finals of this year’s “Student Project of the Year” at the 25th WAITTA INCITE Awards.  These annual Western Australia ICT awards are important awards presented to innovative projects created by industries, organisations, universities and students.

Two of the projects submitted by Murdoch were from the Unit ICT313 Games Technology Project, and the third was from the Unit ICT333 Information Technology Project. The students have been working closely with SEIT staff: Dr Fairuz Shiratuddin, Dr Hong Xie, Mr Shri Rai and Mr Kevin Ong. Mr Peter Cole is the coordinator for both units.

The three Murdoch University finalist projects are:

FlexiBrains - ICT Solutions Team (Mark Carriedo, Andrew Harrison, Khalid Saleh, Saleh Alanazi, Fahad Alqahtani and Nemanja Jovanovic).

A web-based application, developed to assist in the rehabilitation of stroke survivors. Its goal is to present challenging visual, visuospatial and aural tasks to promote the rehabilitation of stroke clients. FlexiBrains records the accuracy and latency of clients when performing individual tasks and presents the data for medical assessment.

Neuromender - Team Red Pen (Michael Garner, Mark Ellis, Michael Vatskalis, Benjamin McLeary and Steve Impson).

Neuromender is an affordable, take-home system that assists stroke survivors with the rehabilitation of their upper-body in order to improve their quality of life. It allows clinicians to do online monitoring and creation of customised rehabilitation plans for each survivor. Neuromender dynamically adapts to each survivor’s ability within rehabilitation parameters.

Radiology Assistant Simulator - Kane Osborn, Matthew Jones, Christopher Snook, Jason Sardi, Nicholas Borowitzka and Daniel Manganaro.

Radiology Assistant Simulator is an exciting and ambitious project involving the virtual recreation of a radiology suite, allowing simulated X-ray imaging of a patient within an immersive and interactive 3D environment. It aims to provide cost-effective and easily accessible training to students of radiology.

The full list of the finalists is available at

Article submitted by Associate Professor Kevin Wong 


Rorie Gilligan, SEIT extractive metallurgy researcher tells us about his experience in the FameLab science communication competition national finals.

As one of 12 FameLab finalists, I was given the opportunity to brush up my presentation skills and receive media training at two days of workshops before the event. We also discussed different ways of communicating to get people interested in your topic and to keep them interested.

It was incredibly useful. I have a few big conference presentations coming up and I will be using the skills I learnt and developed through the FameLab workshops, even though the audience will have more specialised knowledge than the general audience I presented to at FameLab.

The FameLab experience also resulted in a few media interviews, including one on the radio on 6PR. I was pleased with how this went even though the interview took place before the media training workshop. It turns out I did what I was supposed to!

The final itself went well. Although I didn’t win, I really enjoyed the experience. I had already presented in front of a similar audience in the WA heat but it was nice this time to have a few more supporters including my supervisor Aleks Nikoloski, School Dean Bodzio Dlugogorski and the person who put me up to this in the first place – Peter Cole.

I talked about the increased demand for energy, and the need to increase the production of uranium and rare-earth elements to keep up with the increased demand for nuclear and renewable energy. If we could develop a better way of extracting uranium and rare earths from difficult to process minerals like brannerite, we could produce more of these critical metals.

I wasn’t disappointed not to win, just surprised to have made it to the final.

I would encourage fellow early career researchers to give FameLab a go, and other science communication competitions. It’s helpful to have to prepare something for a completely different audience to what you’re used to. It makes you step back from the minutiae to look at why your research is important and its relevance to industry.


Guidelines for Functions Held Within SEIT Premises

Following recent concerns about the consumption of alcohol at functions held in the staff Common Room on level 2, near the School Office, it is perhaps an opportune time to clarify what is appropriate.

While socialisation between staff and students is encouraged, it should be noted that many staff and students do work into the evening and night and every effort should be made not to disturb our colleagues in their quiet work.

Functions held in the Common Room should cease by 6 pm and should not involve serving more than a minor amount of alcohol; i.e., a glass of wine or a beer per person.

Functions going beyond 6pm will require approval either from the Dean or from the School Manager.

Scholarship Opportunities for Mid-Year Applicants