School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

September 2017

Dean - Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski

Welcome to the September edition of the School Newsletter and if you are like me, you will be glad that Spring has arrived and brought with it some welcomed warmer weather.

My heartfelt congratulations go to, Dr Zhong-Tao Jiang and Dr Manickam Minakshi, Electrical Engineering, Energy and Physics, Dr Gerd Schroeder-Turk, Mathematics and Statistics, Dr Alex Wang, Information Technology, and Dr Fang Xia, Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Chemistry, who have completed their probation and secured continuing tenure

This month PhD student, Mr Anupiya Nugaliyadde was awarded an AMSI Internship, a collaborative initiative with Murdoch University and Woodside Energy Ltd. Anupiya is the first Murdoch University student to receive the internship and he will undertake the project under the mentorship of his PhD supervisor, Associate Professor Kevin Wong. Congratulations to you both.

Congratulations also to Dr Drew Parsons and Dr Martin Anda for their successful application to the New Colombo Plan 2018 round of funding. This is a great opportunity for eligible students to work on a select project in an overseas country; more details about the projects and the funding available are in the Newsletter.

I would also like to acknowledge and thank all staff for their continuing hard work to help our School go from strength to strength, in what is undoubtedly a challenging economic and financial period for the University. The effort and dedication shown by you all to go far and beyond to make the student experience exceptional is heart-warming.

Find out more about what is happening across the School and University in this month’s Newsletter.

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

If you are a student or staff reading this Newsletter, please let your friends and family know about Scholarships for Honours, Postgraduate degrees, details are included a the end of the Newsletter.

Best wishes,

Bodzio Dlugogorski

 

INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT

STUDENTS VISIT TRONOX LIMITED – CHANDALA PROCESSING PLANT

A group of 11 students lead by Dr Aleks Nikoloski, visited the Chandala Processing Plant, owned by Tronox Limited, on 29th August 2017.

The tour of the plant, which is located near Muchea, about 60 kilometres north of Perth, provided students the opportunity to experience a chemical engineering production facility, incorporating as parts of the flow sheet a state of the art mineral processing front-end operation, followed by solid-gas pyrometallurgy main section, and hydrometallurgical separation treatment back-end. This integrated process is for the production of high-grade synthetic rutile and other mineral sands including zircon, rutile and leucoxene from heavy mineral sand deposits in the Mid-West region of Western Australia. The main product of this plant is sent for further refining to the Tronox Kwinana Pigment Plant, where it is converted into pure titanium dioxide for production of paints and titanium metal.

The tour provided an opportunity for students to experience first-hand the process operations covered in the units ENG329 Mineral Processing, ENG325 Pyrometallurgy and ENG326 Hydrometallurgy, which Dr Nikoloski teaches in the 3rd year of the Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and the Bachelor of Science in Mineral Science.

After an opening induction and walking survey of the production sections, the group attended presentations from some of the senior process engineers at the plant, who conveyed practical knowledge, shared some personal experience and tips and enjoyed lunch with the guests. The visit was warmly received by all and some photos from the event are below.

Tronox Limited is a worldwide chemical company involved in the titanium products industry with approximately 3,500 employees, and has several operations in Western Australia.

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Mr Heath Elkington, Production Superintendent at Tronox Ltd, presents to students the technology used at the Plant
The visiting party with (centre) Ms Mikaela Jenkins, Principal Process Engineer at Tronox Ltd
A Certificate of Appreciation from the visitors to the plant personnel presented by Ms Shams Latif

Article content and photos provided by Dr Aleks Nikoloski

CONGRATULATIONS

2018 NEW COLOMBO PLAN

Congratulations to the following School staff for their successful applications to the New Colombo Plan 2018 round of funding.

Dr Drew Parsons: Project – Future Chemist International Summer Camp

Country: China

Amount: $30,000

Students: 10

Dr Martin Anda: Project – Micro-grids with integrated water treatment and renewable energy systems

Country: Indonesia

Amount: $60,000

Students: 20

If you have any queries about the New Colombo Plan Mobility grants, or you want to know if a student is eligible contact either Dr Parsons or Dr Anda about their respective NCP funding.

For more information go to: Murdoch to broaden indo-pacific experiences for students

FOR STAFF

GLOBAL GOALS YOUTH FORUM – INVITATION TO RESEARCHERS

Jason Dohle, Humanities Outreach Officer at Murdoch University, is looking for researchers to be part of an outreach activity that involves Murdoch University, the Asia Education Foundation and the University of Melbourne.

The Global Goals Youth Forum is a full-day program for Perth-Based high school students in Years 9 and 10. This program aims to deepen young people’s understandings of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The event will be on 27th of October 2017, with around 60 students attending. Contributions are sought from researchers that deal with Sustainable Development Goals and people who are willing to assist students in creating plans to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals and judge the participant contributions on the day.

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This will be a fantastic cross-discipline event for Murdoch to be a part of, as the Goals cover many areas of Business and Governance, Science, Physics, Engineering, Life Sciences, Law and Humanities. 

If you are available for any period on the 27th of October and would like to be involved, or you have any queries about the event, please email Jason.Dohle@murdoch.edu.au.

For more information on AEF and the Global Goals program, go to Asia Education Foundation - Global Goals Youth Forum.

FOR EVERYONE

CYBERWORLDS IN ASIA PACIFIC 2017 – SINGAPORE FORUM

Dr Graham Mann attended the Singapore Forum on Cyberworlds in Asia Pacific 2017, on 3rd of August, read on for an insightful and informative report about this event.

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The Google Asia Pacific complex in Singapore is a marvel of net-inspirational interior design, futuristic, fun furniture and all the conspicuous corporate wealth of a global tech giant. There are gigantic screens promoting the latest company deals, cosy lounge nooks over which coloured clouds hover, representing the brilliant ideas expected to arise there, and windowless privacy boxes in which meetings can literally shutter themselves away from the busyness of the daily free food hall. Visitors crowd around the famous multi-coloured Google sign, asking people to snap selfies for them.

I was visiting in August for the one-day 2017 Singapore Forum on Cyberworlds in Asia Pacific, organised by staff from Murdoch University Singapore. Dr Florence Mwagwabi, alumna of the School of Engineering and Information Technology, and Dr Tania Lim and Dr Sumesh Nair of the Singapore office are a lively and proactive group. Although they provided a very good venue, there did not seem to be very many Google folks actually in the audience, most of the 200 people there were, to my mind, sociologists, psychologists and media and communications academics from universities in the region. Still, this was to be the first in a series of such events, and closer ties with Google are clearly an important part of the plan, so that may expand in future. The Australian High Commissioner, Singapore, Bruce Gosper, thought the event important enough to open, along with Murdoch University, Deputy Vice Chancellor - International, Professor Lyn Karstadt.

If Google are not paying much attention to the topic, they should be. There is not likely to be a slowing of internet use, on which the company’s main revenue of marketing data depends, anytime soon. The public are now beginning to demand more social accountability from internet corporations, smartphone vendors and telcos, whose products and services so dominate our lives. The evidence shows that human wellbeing is strongly affected by use, or abuse, or overuse of these, and if they do not make a good show of handling that, they will face product failures, government regulation, and consumer backlashes.

The keynote address by Professor Lim Sun Sun of Singapore University of Technology and Design, immediately established a major theme of the day, as she confronted the fear many parents now grapple with about the effect internet use has on children. Her research indicates that typically, even very young children that are exposed to digital devices for many hours a day quickly acquire hand-eye skills to operate touch screens and show signs of addiction when the devices are taken away.

In the first presentation session, Professor May Lwin of Nanyang Technological University presented the results of her surveys of parental influence over children’s online behaviour, suggesting that social networking websites exerted a disproportionate influence on behaviour, revealing a sensitivity and vulnerability to cyberbullying as well as increased “materialism”. Parents were, she suggested, generally at a loss to know how to intervene when their child showed negative symptoms of internet exposure. Dr Jiow Jhee Hee of the Singapore Institute of Technology described his practical solution to the fears of many parents that they did not understand what games their children were playing: his online database of popular internet games, especially designed to help parents manage their children’s recreation. Murdoch University, Dr Ingrid Richardson outlined her ‘Young People Online’ project, which was also on the lookout for possible harmful effects, while Dr Catherine Archer, also from Murdoch University, worried that many mothers, especially younger mothers, clearly strong users of social media (probably to overcome the isolating effects of childrearing) might be neglecting their children in favour of device use. To be honest, some of these observations were nothing new.

Dr Graham Mann (2nd from left) with other presenters at the ForumPhoto 7 Google.jpg

In the second session, I found myself among a group of women who were studying and developing online tourism. Vimolboon Cherapanukorn outlined her study of the communication and IT needs and expectations of modern tourists in Asia. Countries that want to enhance their attractiveness to this demographic should heed this. Eunice Tan explained that attractive tourism trails could now be established using geolocated signposts for smartphones, in any of a number of languages and for different age groups, fairly simply and cheaply. Rauda Zaini, a marketing manager for a Halal food tourist company for young Muslims, shifted the cultural perspective again by describing what can be done to provide for this substantial and growing market segment. My own presentation was about the effects of a coming technology that I believe will eventually supersede the smartphone, augmented reality smartglasses. Mixed in with the convenience and enrichment of experience are likely to be a number of new problems, such as random blotting out of important real events, asymmetrical social dynamics, behavioural manipulation by software and potential radical disengagement from physical reality in favour of ubiquitous entertainment content. I suggested a few potential solutions to these ills.

After lunch, the Demystifying the Dark Web session addressed legal questions concerning the public’s use of internet services. Jeffrey Lim, a prominent lawyer with expertise in cybersecurity and IP law, asserted that in Singapore, establishing the true nature of an accused’s intent was the key to correctly distinguishing between minor and severe transgressions. Some of the legal complications he described were beyond me. Demetris Booth of Cisco Systems has a job that requires him to understand, and in many cases, educate, companies’ online security needs. He argued that many companies, even those whose viability depended critically on their systems and data were still far too passive in their approach to securing their gear. Florence Mwagwabi described her research on the weakest element of cybersecurity, the human factor. She showed that not only do people still use very weak or well-known passwords for protection, but that it was easily possible to discover the password using simple “social hacks”. However, the most astonishing presentation was that of the flamboyant Belly Rachdianto, a cybersecurity trainer working for the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, USA. Rachdianto used the TOR system to gleefully log into dark websites, including those belonging to illegal gun sellers, drug dealers and pirate software vendors, right in front of the audience. The view inside these usually forbidden online places was enlightening. It showed that not all uses of these highly encrypted sites were criminal in nature; many listings were simply companies or individuals who needed privacy and encryption more than most of us (whistle-blowers, for example). Many government agencies have a presence there, said Rachdianto, and all intelligence and police agencies should.

Ann Palmer of Murdoch University Singapore opened the fourth session by reporting some alarming statistics concerning students’ attitudes to plagiarism, collusion and similar misconduct; despite every effort to instil a belief in the wrongness of these academic misdemeanours, many students remain pragmatic and say they would do these things if they did not expect to be caught. Dr Zhand Weiyu of National University Singapore, offered a view of the highly controlled media landscape of modern China where, amazingly, far beyond strict regulation of online content on the internet, communist party leaders now actively suppress television soap operas that become too popular, for fear of the formation of any large fan groups devoted to non-party ideas. Associate Professor Terence Lee of Murdoch University outlined the problems of trust violations in the internet milieu, using a case study of Belle Gibson. Gibson, from Victoria, pretended to be a multiple cancer patient and gathered an online group of supporters and charitable donors so large that she was able to amass a considerable fortune before the scam was uncovered by the police. While the case study was intriguing, I felt that the lessons that he drew from this, that we are all somehow culpable in this mischief, to be something of an overreach. Poh Yeang Cherng, of Kingmaker Consultancy Singapore, finished on a positive note by describing their firm’s new behavioural training program “Strength Finder” for young people with internet addictions. The method involves trying to discover positive, creative elements of their customer’s online behaviour, and then work with that to encourage them to balance this with respect to other aspects of their lives. He gave two examples of teenagers whose “excessive behaviours” turned out to form the basis of a successful internet start-up and a good career in IT.

Although I felt that the event could have benefitted from some more technical content, especially concerning some of the newer ICT products and services we might expect to appear soon, there was sufficient common ground among the presenting researchers to make it worth gathering the following day at the Singapore office. Organisers, Florence and Tania did a very good job of summing up some potential collaborative opportunities, including real possibilities of funding from Singapore government sources. I believe it is fertile ground for social theorists and psychologists who may be best placed to study these profound effects and propose the best methods for societies to deal with them.

Article and photos provided by Dr Graham Mann

SCIENCE AND COMMUNICATION DAY AT WIRELESS HILL MUSEUM

On Sunday 20th of August, Dr Chris Creagh and Mr Terry Koziniec ran demonstrations for Science and Communication Day outside the Wireless Hill Museum. The event ran from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and was part of National Science Week 2017. Chris had a series of posters and demonstrations describing the role of physics in wireless communication and Terry showed students how wireless communication could be used in remote sensors and software-defined radios. The event saw attendance from a range of ages, with Murdoch the only university in attendance. We very much appreciate the wonderful service Chris and Terry provide to the community and the university in promoting activities such as this.

Follow this link for more information on the Wireless Hill Museum

Terry Koziniec (left) and Chris Creagh (right) talk to students and parents about the science of wireless communication.Photo 8 wireless hill.jpg
Article and photo provided by Dr David Murray

START YOUR JOURNEY TO SCIENTIFIC EXCELLENCE

Dean's Scholarships for Scientific Excellence

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A ‘MURDOCH FIRST SCHOLARSHIP’?

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APPLY FOR HONOURS AND POST GRADUATE COURSES

If you or someone you know is interested in continuing post graduate study see the opportunities available below:

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To find out more go to: http://Murdoch.edu.au/Honours-courses

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To find out more go to: http://postgraduate.murdoch.edu.au/

IMPROVE YOUR EMPLOYABILITY AND GAIN EXPERIENCE BEFORE YOU GRADUATE

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To find out more go to Career Connect August Newsletter and register your details at CareerConnect.