School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter


Dean - Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski

Welcome to the April edition of the School Newsletter.

We were saddened this month to hear of the passing of Dr Terry Edwards, who commenced with the University in 1985 as Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Dr Edwards was instrumental in establishing the ‘Oil and Gas Centre’ at Murdoch University and when the Centre was later opened at UWA in the mid 1990’s, Dr Edwards left Murdoch to continue his research there. Our condolences to Dr Edward’s family, friends and colleagues. The School pays tribute to Dr Edwards with a full article in this month’s Newsletter.

I would like to extend my congratulations to Ms Maryam Barmi, who has been appointed as Adjunct Associate Lecturer in the School. Dr Barmi has expertise in multidisciplinary areas ranging from metallurgy to materials for energy storage devices (illustrated in figure 1 below) and its novel synthesis. Dr Barmi has published her outcomes in top notch journals, such as Dalton Transactions and ChemPlusChem.

We are excited to confirm commencement of construction of the new state-of-the-art gaming and networking facility. The $2.6 million addition will provide leading edge teaching and research facilities to students, greatly enhancing their learning experience. Completion of the new facility is expected to be in Semester Two of this year. See School of Engineering and IT to undergo digital transformation for more details.

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Adjunct Associate Lecturer, Maryam Barmi Figure 1

A reminder to staff and students that applications for the Premier’s Science Awards and WA Science Hall of Fame are now open. These awards recognise and celebrate the research achievements and engagement of the Western Australian science community. Applications close at 10.00am, on Monday 21st May, 2018. More information is provided in the flyer, further on in the Newsletter.

Finally, let me offer my heartfelt congratulations to Drs Drew Parsons and Almantas Pivrikas for gaining tenure.

I hope you enjoy this month’s edition of the Newsletter, please read on for more stories and information from the School and around the University.

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 - 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 in the Newsletter.

Best wishes,

Bodzio Dlugogorski


Winners of the Deans Scholarship Award
PhD Students AIM to find Sustainable Water Shortage Solutions
Are You Eligible for a ‘Murdoch First Scholarship’?
Help Lead the Way to Clean Energy Storage
Apply for Honours and Post Graduate Courses
Vale Dr Terry Edwards
Australian Council of Engineering Deans Meeting 2018
ERA 2018
Postgraduate Research Update
News from the Associate Dean for Courses and Admissions
School Manager Update
Do Aqueous Sulphide Ions Really Exist? – The Debate Continues
Research Team Make Wastewater Treatment Cheaper and Greener
Premier’s Science Awards 2018



Congratulations to the following students, who were awarded the Dean’s Scholarships for Scientific Excellence for 2018.

The Dean’s Scholarships for Scientific Excellence are highly competitive and offer new domestic and international students $5,000 per year for full-time coursework study. They also offer the opportunity for the awardees to engage in personalised research projects together with an academic mentor using the School’s research laboratories. The Scholarships also includes $2000 support to assist the recipients travel to leading national and international research laboratories, interact with researchers from outside the University, or travel to a conference.

We wish the recipients all the best of luck with their studies.

Domestic Undergraduate

Arjuna LEACH $15,000 over 3 years, to study a Bachelor of Science (Chemistry). 

Ariuna graduated from Holy Cross College.

Douglas LAWRIE $20,000 over 4 years, to study a Bachelor of Engineering.

Douglas is a graduate of John Curtin College of the Arts.

International UG

Tien Hong TEOH $15,000 over 3 years, to study a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics & Statistics and Chemistry).

Tien joins us from Malaysia.

Kavi CHAPAGAIN $15,000 over 3 years, to study a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science and Physics & Nanotechnology).

Kavi is a recent graduate from the Murdoch Institute of Technology (MIT) and originates from Nepal.


Engineering students, Ms Ivonne Tshuma and Mr Vishnu Ravisankar are both working towards making seawater desalination technology more energy efficient. The methods of desalination they are studying are ‘membrane distillation process’ by Mr Ravisankar and ‘reverse osmosis’ by Ms Tshuma. Although reverse osmosis is the cheaper and therefore more preferred option of desalination, both methods consume a vast amount of electricity.

Both students are supervised and guided by Professor Wendell Ela, Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch and Dr Duncan Farrow and due to their common interest in this research area, the pair have worked together, sharing and comparing their respective findings for the past two years.

Ms Tshuma and Mr Ravisankar presented their work as part of the Murdoch delegation that hosted Cape Town provincial government representatives on Murdoch campus earlier this year. Professor Ela, who headed up the Murdoch delegation together with Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, Professor David Morrison, hopes that communication and knowledge sharing between Murdoch University Researchers and the Cape Town government, will find a sustainable and energy efficient solution to the water crisis in Cape Town. Murdoch-University-experts-advise-cape-town-government-on-water-crisis.

You can find more information on the research work by Ms Tshuma and Mr Ravisankar at Murdoch PhD students work towards sustainable water shortage solutions.


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1. Clean Energy Advert.JPG


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


To find out more go to


To find out more go to



The School was recently informed that a former senior lecturer in Physics, Dr Terry Edwards, had passed away. Terry was appointed to the former School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in 1985 and contributed strongly to the teaching in his specialty areas of, Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics. Terry also taught scientific computing and had a major role in the development and teaching of the first year units in physics for both science and engineering students.

Terry collaborated with Professor Peter May in the teaching of Thermodynamics and Properties of Matter for many years. Terry’s research area was the properties of gases in the critical region near the triple point. He applied his research skills to the study of WA natural gas, for which a knowledge of the critical parameters is important for liquefaction technology. He was assisted in this effort by now Associate Professor Rob Trengove and Dr Derek Fawcett and together they received a large grant from the ARC and the natural gas industry to establish a research facility on Murdoch South Street campus. When the Oil and Gas Centre was established at UWA in the late nineties, Terry was recruited by them and he moved his equipment and staff to UWA. He retired from UWA in 2010.

Terry Edwards will be fondly remembered by many former colleagues and students as a cheerful, fun-loving and enthusiastic physicist who made significant contributions to the development of science and engineering at Murdoch University.

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A condolence book is available on line at

Article contributors, Professor Phil Jennings, Associate Professor Rob Trengrove, Dr Derek Fawcett, Dr Chris Creagh, Professor Glenn Hefter


In late March 2018, Associate Professor Phil Schneider attended a meeting of the Australian Council of Engineering Deans (ACED) on behalf of the Dean of the School. ACED aims to “promote and advance engineering education, research and scholarship on behalf of the Australian higher education system.” The membership of ACED is comprised of senior representatives of the 37 Universities that offer engineering qualifications. ACED supports its members, and the development of Australian engineering more generally, by making submissions to government inquiries, and undertaking projects aimed at improving the quality of engineering courses and research. Many of these activities are undertaken as collaborations of ACED members, and with other organisations, including Engineers Australia, the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE), and the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

One key topic of the March ACED meeting was a report on the status of the proposed project entitled, “The Engineer of 2035”, which aims to better understand society’s future needs of engineering graduates. With the current reduced interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects in school and the growing population in Australia, there is concern that even greater levels of out sourcing would be required to meet Australia’s future need for Engineering skills and capabilities.

A second issue related to the level of preparedness in mathematics of high school leavers who wish to study engineering at University. There exists a very wide range of approaches across all 37 institutions that offer engineering studies in relation to ensuring that first year engineering students can succeed through their program of study. Not in question was the importance of mathematics to the study of engineering, which is integral to the understanding and problem solving capabilities of engineers now and in the future.

The ACED meeting also gives members the opportunity to report on their particular activities and concerns to the wider ACED group. One key theme emerged, which related to the ongoing occurrence of restructuring taking place in many Australian universities. Also of concern was the reduction of student numbers in some institutions. I tabled the report from Murdoch University highlighting our improving student enrolments and our again excellent student feedback survey results, that show that Murdoch is again head and shoulders about the rest of the WA universities.

Dr Charlie Day from Innovation Science Australia, gave an interesting presentation related to the preparedness of Australia for the anticipated technical disruption of the labour force, which requires a different mind-set when it comes to investing in research and innovation. He presented a number of imperatives that ISA feels can help Australia better manage the future, such as increased government spending on research and development and suggesting ways to change the technical culture of Australia.

Closely aligned with ACED, Engineers Australia (EA) gave its report, which in part included a report on the updated Accreditation Management System (AMS), which is the framework for managing the assessment of all engineering undergraduate courses in Australia. The new framework promises to be more streamlined and reduced in size, which should make the process of applying for accreditation easier in the future.

Other subcommittee reports were table related to engineering education.

Article provided by Associate Professor Phil Schneider

ERA 2018

The 2018 Excellence in Research in Australia (ERA) exercise, by which the Australian Government attempts to assess the quality of research produced by Australian Universities, is close to completion. This fourth round is being put together by the MU Research Office. The School has been given the opportunity to be closely involved, in contrast to previous ERA exercises. Consequently, considerable amounts of time have been put in by Associate Professor Phil Schneider, Professor Bruce Gardner, Professor Gamini Senanayake and myself to optimise the School’s position.

Although no funding is attached to the outcomes of the ERA process, the assessments it produces are widely regarded as meaningful quality indicators. In most of the School’s disciplines, the assessment is determined by the relative citation index. This objective measure is calculated as the ratio of the average number of citations (achieved for publications for the period 2011-2016 inclusive) to the world average in that field. A minimum of 50 papers, published over the 6 year period, is required for assessment and the results are ranked from 1 (‘well below world average’) to 5 (‘well above world average’) stars. A ratio of about 1.0 means that an area is at world standard; a value ofP1.JPGis ranked ‘above world average’ whileP2.JPGis ‘well above world average’. For IT, a more qualitative peer assessment process is used.

While the final results will only be known when the entire data set for all Universities is processed by the AU Government, the School is hopeful that all our disciplines will achieve at least the world standard (3-star) rankings at the “2-digit level”. This corresponds to the traditional disciplinary FoR (field of research) codes produced by the Australian Government. Performance at the “4-digit level”, corresponding to specific research areas (eg., condensed matter physics, physical chemistry, etc.) in the School’s well-established areas of research strength appears to have been maintained, while a number of new areas show promise for assessment at the 3- or 4- star level.

Article provided by Professor Glenn Hefter – Associate Dean (Research)


The news from the postgraduate research desk mostly concerns the Research Training Program (RTP) scholarships and our preparations for the 2018 round. The School Research Committee (SRC) has formed a subcommittee consisting of one member from each of the four disciplines plus myself as Postgraduate Director. The subcommittee includes: Dr Nicola Armstrong; Dr Ferdous Sohel; Dr David Parlevliet; Dr Drew Parsons; with myself as the Chair. We have the task of setting the Dean’s criteria of ‘excellence, excellence and excellence’, into some objective criteria that can be given a numerical score. One could argue whether a set of numerical criteria that optimises the chances of an excellent applicant actually exists. Either way, a draft of it, or the nearest acceptable approximation, is required by everyone, including the University, the School Dean and indeed, the whole School.

In meetings thus far, the committee has heard no convincing reasons to vary the criteria significantly from those used by the University since the ‘Bush Court’ was planted. This is a 10-point scale with 4 points awarded according the undergraduate GPA, 4 points also for the postgraduate qualification (H1, H2A, M.Sc. etc.) and 2 points for ‘research potential’ (RP). Much of our discussions have been focussed on options for structuring this RP component. The standard University system awards cumulative credit for quality publications, 1 paper good, 2 papers, twice as good etc. We discussed an idea to calculate the component as a ‘research intensity’ (RI) rather than a ‘research quantity’. To summarise, 1 paper in 1 year good, 2 papers in 1 year, twice as good. As another example, someone who only publishing a (high quality) paper in year 2013 and another in 2017 would score the same as someone publishing only one paper in consecutive years. Both have an RI value of 1 quality paper per publication year.

By soon, we have a deadline of the end of April to have a draft proposal available for discussion. Please do consult your discipline, or the nearest, representative if you wish to make a comment or express an opinion.

Article provided by Dr David Ralph, Postgraduate Research Director


The headline issue for SEIT in 2018 relating to Courses and Admissions is the three Course Reviews that will be undertaken during this year. All our undergraduate courses and their associated majors are up for review. The first group of majors to undergo a review will be the IT majors of the BSc, which starts later this month.

The review process consists of three phases. The first of these is a two-day “hothouse” Curriculum Diagnostic. Preparation for this first phase is well underway with staff from IT liaising with OSQA with regard to the data pack that will inform the discussions during the Curriculum Diagnostic. The Curriculum Diagnostic will assess the majors against strategic alignment, financial viability, design and other matters relating to gradate outcomes and the like.

The second phase of the process (to happen over May and June for the IT majors) is to do any redesign work for the course. At this stage it is difficult to say what this will involve without first having completed the Curriculum Diagnostic.

The third and last phase of the Course Review is the Approval Phase where the (possibly) redesigned course is approved through the usual channels, possibly for implementation in 2019.

The other SEIT courses/majors are slated for this process later in the year. All the BE majors will have their Curriculum Diagnostic in July this year. The remaining (non IT) majors in the BSc offered by SEIT will also have their Curriculum Diagnostic at that time.

The Course Review process is very new and only a couple of courses have gone through the process so far. The process is still evolving and will no doubt undergo further changes as more reviews progress.

At this stage, the postgraduate coursework courses in EIT are timetabled to go through this process in the middle of 2019.

Article provided by Dr Duncan Farrow, Associate Dean Courses and Admissions


As we are half way through semester and approaching the mid-year break, please remember to review your Annual Leave and Long Service Leave balances. For many the mid-year break is a great time to take some leave and return to work refreshed. In the new Enterprise Agreement, there are more options available to staff in the way that leave is taken. Where staff have an excessive amount of leave or will have by the end of the year, then as was the case last year, I will send an email reminder to individuals outlining their leave balances and what options are available to them. As a minimum, all staff are expected to take their 2018 annual leave allocation of 150 hours.

Due to the uncertainty at the beginning of the year in relation to budgets, and the delay in finalising 2017, we have only recently finalised the allocations for Staff Maintenance projects. If a Staff Maintenance Project ended 2017 in deficit then, as has been the case in previous years, the deficit will be deducted from the individual’s 2018 Staff Maintenance allocation of $750. Finance are undertaking the journals to establish the opening balances and these will be reflected in the April reports. If you would like more information as to how your allocation was calculated please contact Mary or myself.

A reminder that Credit Card holders are to submit their fully reconciled monthly credit card statements, complete with all supporting documentation, to Mary within 5 working days of receiving the monthly statement. Delays in submitting the documentation results in project overruns and incorrect balances showing in finance. Information detailing the procedure and responsibilities of card holders is outlined in the Purchasing Card Acquittal Procedure

Article Provided by Rebecca Treloar-Cook, School Manager


In the March edition of the School Newsletter, we featured the work undertaken by the School Chemistry team to determine the existence of aqueous sulphide ions. The findings and those of researchers at University of Western Australia, continues to spark interest in the scientific community and has featured in The West Australian. For decades, researches have thought the sulphide produced negatively charged ions when in aqueous solutions. This theory was integral to many industrial and environmental processes. Researchers, scientist and teachers alike, are now being asked to question this long held theory, which has had no evidence to support it. For more information, see the study published in the Chemical Communications, as well as news at UWA erasing a bit of chemistry history.

Article content provided by Professor Glenn Hefter, Associate Dean Research



With wastewater treatment technology in Australia more than 100 years old, it was probably time to find a more energy efficient way of dealing with this very important issue.

Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch and former PhD and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Liang Cheng (now Professor at Jiangsu University in China), together with Dr Raphael Flavigny and PhD student, Md Iqbal Hossain, have designed a new wastewater treatment system that requires less than half the normal electricity to operate. The new technology will transform the wastewater treatment industry, with a new company being established to commercialise the technology.

See more information on this very exciting initiative, Murdoch researchers invent greener and cheaper wastewater treatment.


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