School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

August 2018

Dean - Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski

Welcome to the August edition of the School Newsletter. It has been a very busy start to Semester 2 with teaching well underway and students back and hopefully enthused about the next few months of their academic journey.

This month, I am pleased to share with you the highlights from Murdoch Open Day, held on Saturday, 28th of July. What an amazing day it was, with approximately 16,000 people visiting the University and enjoying the hundreds of activities on offer. Open Day is a wonderful opportunity for prospective students and their families to speak first hand to staff and student volunteers about the many courses on offer, wander around the campus, check-out the facilities and get a feel for what it means to study and learn at Murdoch. The School had some fantastic displays and activities on offer and I was impressed at the level of enthusiasm and professionalism shown by everyone. In situations like this, I am always reminded of the words of one of our previous Deans: “The foundation of our achievement is our staff.” Thank you once again for your amazing effort and contribution.

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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


Work Experience Opportunity – Attention PHD Students and Academic Mentors
Are you Eligible for a 'Murdoch First Scholarship'?
Scholarship for Scientific Excellence
Help Lead the Way to Clean Energy Storage
Apply for Honours and Postgraduate Courses
Murdoch Open Day
Update from the Postgraduate Research Director’s Desk
Learning and Teaching Spotlight
News from the Associate Dean - Courses and Admissions
Research Week and Pawsey Centre Open Day - Associate Dean of Research Update
MESS Connect Engineering Students with Industry
Immersion in the World of Chemical Education
WA University Poster Competition



Here is an opportunity for PhD students who want to get some industry experience and let industry see them at work. This will also interest any supervisors and academic mentors that want to make new connections with industry, and apply for some extra funding or research grants.

See below for more details:

APR.Intern is a not-for-profit program driving innovation through industry and university research collaborations. The program is working at the nexus between industry and academia, connecting PhD students, and their academic mentors, with industry partners through 3-5 month, tightly focused research projects.

The program aims to support industry-based training of PhD research students in all Australian universities, to increase employability and broaden business and university collaboration.

Students are encouraged to sign-up to the mailing list and view advertised internship opportunities at the website

Students don’t need to know everything about the position on offer, your supervisor or academic mentor will be available to help out and you will also get on the job training. This opportunity is probably best taken during the last year of your study, and optimally while your thesis is being assessed (after submission).

There are only a few positions available in Perth, but don’t let that put you off applying. Watch out for more local internships coming up soon, which may involve the possibility to travel to another location for the duration of the internship.

It is worth noting that a number of students who have taken up these positions have gone on to full employment with the industry partner, so it can be much more than a work experience opportunity.

Article provided by Professor Graeme Hocking, Head of Discipline Mathematics and Statistics


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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



On Thursday 19th July the School held a combined Student Prize Giving Ceremony and Staff Awards Night in the Kim Beazley Lecture Theatre. Attended by award recipients, their family and friends, the Awards Night showcased the talent, expertise and dedication of our students and staff.

The Dean of the School, Professor Dlugogorski, welcomed everyone to the event saying “an excellent university is underpinned by excellent students, excellent academics and excellent professional staff. You are here because you are either an expert in your field, if you are an academic or member of professional staff, or you are developing your own expertise as a student. Developing true expertise takes about seven years - that is about 10,000 hours of sustained effort.”

One by one, prize and award recipients were asked to come down onto the stage to accept their award and were congratulated by rounds of claps and cheers from the audience. Highlights included: Dr Chris Creagh receiving a standing ovation from physics students and peers; June Burnett receiving a thunderous round of applause for her Life Time Achievement Award; and the number of times physics student Michael Hough was called to the stage to receive one of his 3 awards for the night.

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Michael was charged with giving the vote of thanks to donors and the School on behalf of the student prize awardees. In his speech he said “The path to fulfilling those dreams is not an easy one. The path can change, zig and zag and sometimes uphill seems like a cliff face. The fact that we are here today, means that we have overcome some of those hurdles,” he said. “To have unsought acknowledgment of the hard work, however, makes the path a little less rocky and quietens the voice of self-doubt for a while.”

Particularly moving were the number of student awardees that presented the prize donor with a letter of thanks and gratitude. It was a moving recognition to the many donors that have supported our students and their achievements over the years and one that I am sure every donor appreciates.

Our MC for the night was Emeritus Professor David Macey, who entertained the audience with the right combination of humour and seriousness … and threats when sponsors and awardees didn’t stand in front of the Murdoch banner correctly.

Following the formal part of the evening, awardees and guests were asked to reconvene in the new Student Hub where staff, students, friends and relatives could mingle and socialise in an informal environment.

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An event of this scale requires considerable organisation and coordination and we would like to thank Ruth Brisbane and Emma Tristham for all their hard work that resulted in a tremendous evening.

Submitted by Rebecca Treloar-Cook


We had another very successful Open Day this semester with an estimated 16,000 visitors attending. School staff and volunteers reported that prospective students were engaged and focused and really appreciated the displays and activities, as well as the information sessions.

I would like to say a big thank you to all of the staff and student volunteers for giving up their time for what is one of the most important and high profile events of the year. It is an opportunity to engage with prospective students, parents, and influencers and showcase what the University and the School can offer both academically and as a community.

There were many wonderful activities and displays on the day, and the following are just a few highlights of what visitors had an opportunity to see and experience on the day.

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Dr David Henry shows how a superconductor works

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Experiments on display

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Fiery thermite reaction showing how to extract and purify metals

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Microgrids: how future electricity networks might look

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Pilot Plant in action, displaying how a processing plant might work on a mine site

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Photovaltaic (PV) cells in action

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Virtual Reality unit on display

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The new IT Gaming Lab Hub common area

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Visitors getting a first-hand experience of virtual reality in action


We are close to the time when there will be a flurry of applications for research training place scholarships (RTPs). The closing dates for the international and domestic awards are 30th September and 30th October respectively and I want to pass on some advice about the processes for recruiting postgraduate research students and assisting their applications for funding under the RTP schemes. The application process for international students (RTPi) is a bit more complicated than that for domestic applicants, so I will confine my comments here to the former. Also, processes vary somewhat between Schools, so my comments are specific to the School of Engineering and IT.

In this year’s round, the School with have 6 RTPi scholarships to award. After the closing date the applicants are ranked by the scholarship sub-committee of the School Research Committee. The subcommittee membership is Dr David Ralph, Dr Nicola Armstrong, Dr David Parlevliet, Dr Ferdous Sohel and Dr Drew Parsons and the ranking criteria are set out in the minutes of the School Board (SEIT School Board Minutes from the meeting 10th July 2018). The top 6 applicants are referred to the Graduate Research Office who check that each of the School’s choice of applicants meets a minimum university-wide scholarship score. The GRO can, and has, declined to make an offer to an applicant selected by a School, but who failed to accumulate a score, meeting the University-wide minimum.

To appropriately advise hopeful applicants, staff need to first be aware of how the University-wide minimum score is calculated and the applicant’s score under that system. If the score is less than 7.0, they should be advised that funding under the RTPi scheme is unlikely. The information and criteria used in calculating the University-wide minimum score is at this link ( Basically, it is a 10-point score with 4 categories. Four points for the undergraduate GPA, 4 points for the postgraduate qualification (Hons or M.Sc.), 0.5 points for English language skills and 1.5 points for research potential (publications, work experience etc.). I would be happy to assist in applying these criteria if you get confused.

The School ranking system uses the same undergraduate and postgraduate scores, but awards the remaining 2 points according to the primary criteria listed in School Board submission. The subcommittee also recommended that secondary criteria be used to discriminate between closely ranked applicants and that awards should be limited to one for each principal supervisor. This last criterion reflects a balance of opinions about whether the scholarship scheme awards the excellence of the applicant, the excellence of the project constructed by the applicant and the principal supervisor, or the excellence of the principal supervisor’s contributions to the school KPI’s. I would be happy to assist academic staff in prioritising expressions of interest so they can appropriately advise applicants.

This new process for RTP scholarship distribution, about to have its second edition in 2018, means that Schools can vary their ranking criteria from year to year, according the School’s strategic priorities.

Article provided by Dr David Ralph Postgraduate Research Director


ACDS Learning and Teaching Leaders Conference 2018

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The ACDS annual meeting dedicated to learning and teaching was at the University of Adelaide on 19th and 20th July. Murdoch had representatives present from both SEIT (Kate Rowen, ADLT) and VLS (Wayne Greene, Leader of Medical and Molecular Sciences). It was a great meeting of learning and teaching associate deans and leaders from universities across Australia. The keynote presentations were thought provoking, covering issues on the direction of science education, student attrition (or persistence), and the ‘wave of change’ in curriculum design and academic roles. Participants contributed to a workshop discussion to inform the ACDS in the development of teaching practice standards. There was also an update on ‘WIL in Science’, which is an ACDS project funded by the OLT.

An exciting proposal for an ACDS Teaching Fellowship was announced. The fellowships to advance science learning and teaching, will be based on the previous ALTC and OLT models. One fellowship of up to $100 000 will be awarded in 2018 and a call for applications should occur in the coming weeks. A summary of the conference and presentation slides are available at the ACDS website, which also has great resources related to WIL in science project.

Article provided by Dr Kate Rowen, Associate Dean Learning and Teaching


I was lucky enough to have taken the entirety of July as long service leave. I spent about three weeks of it cycling in Spain and France – delightful.

However, curriculum matters did not rest and quite a lot happened while I was away.

Curriculum Hothouses: The main events where the two “hothouse” sessions for the two undergraduate degrees in the school: the BE and the BSc and their associated majors.

Two panels were formed, one for each degree. Kate Rowen chaired the BSc panel and was ably assisted by the other panel members, including input from Mike Calver from VLS. The BE panel was chaired by Bruce Gardiner which, along with the BE, also considered the two BSc majors that act as feeders to the BE.

Both panels have all but finished the first stage of their work which consists of writing a report on the outcomes of the hothouse process. Once these reports have been endorsed by panel members and discussed by the School Executive they will be submitted up the chain.

Sub-Bachelor Courses: One piece of significant news that affects not only EIT but also the whole university was a decision made by ACAC last week. At the meeting last Thursday ACAC recommended to Academic Council a change to the coursework regulations that would allow Murdoch University to offer sub-bachelor qualifications, specifically 24pt diplomas. Alongside this addition to the coursework regulations, four particular diplomas where considered. Each is, more or less, equivalent to the first year of an existing degree course and would allow successful diploma students to articulate directly into the second year of a degree.

This is a significant and controversial change to the University’s offerings and is yet to be endorsed by Academic Council and the Senate. There was a lot of discussion at ACAC and the meeting ran over its allotted time. I expect there to be a similar amount of discussion at Council and Senate.

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


University Research Week

A University wide Research Week is planned for the 5th to 9th November. The aim of the event is to showcase the wide variety of innovative and translational research at Murdoch University to our industry partners, government departments and funding agencies. Current activities include days themed for Information Technology, Agriculture and the Environment and each day will include, symposia, workshops, networking events and tours of facilities. It is not too late to include additional events. If anyone has any additional events or activities that they would like to host and promote their discipline during Research Week, please contact Dr David Henry ( who is a member of the steering committee.

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National Science Week in Perth began with a number of events including an Open Day at the Pawsey Supercomputer Centre (11th August). The Open Day offered the public an opportunity to tour the Supercomputer Centre, hear presentations from researchers, visit stalls from the partner institutions and enjoy other family activities. Dr David Henry represented Murdoch and gave a presentation to the public on “Understanding Non-wetting Soils in WA Agriculture”, which was well received. Dr Henry was supported at the Murdoch stall by Liam Pascoe, an undergraduate student from Chemistry and Dr Rick Tankard from Maths and Stats. The team provided information to the public on undergraduate and post-graduate courses in Sciences and Technology at Murdoch and the areas of research carried out within the School of Engineering and IT.

Dr David Henry left and Liam Pascoe at Murdoch Stall

Article provided by Dr David Henry Acting Associate Dean Research.


Last Thursday, 9th August, MESS held a networking event in the Launchpad space in the library, with 15 companies and organisations in attendance, it was a great success! The event was a wonderful opportunity for companies to gauge the quality of Murdoch Engineering students and also for students to ask questions of engineers currently working in the field they want to specialise in.

The event ended with a tour of the engineering facilities, for some company representatives it was a trip down memory lane as they had completed their studies at Murdoch University.

A huge thanks is owed to Dale and Nic for putting in many hours to help organise the event, and thanks also to Rhys, Kenny, Sam and Dan for helping out on the day. The careers centre were a great help in getting us started in planning this event.

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Western Power representatives join Meredith Coburn far right at the MESS event

Article and photo provided by Meredith Coburn, MESS President


July was a busy time for those involved in chemistry education. The IUPAC sponsored International Conference on Chemistry Education (ICCE) was held between 10th and 14th July at the University of Sydney, and the American Chemical Society’s Biennial Conference on Chemical Education (BCCE) took place at the University of Notre Dame (the one in Indiana, not the one in Fremantle ), between 29th July and 2nd August. The School of Engineering and IT was represented at both conferences with Kate Rowen, Leonie Hughes and Damian Laird attending ICCE and Damian then going on to North America for the BCCE (one of only 4 Australians present – 3 of which were from Perth!).

At ICCE, Leonie presented her work on the development and implementation of the capstone breadth unit BSC304 Innovation and Ethics in Science, and Damian provided a quick overview of our highly successful curriculum specific Outreach and Teacher professional learning activities. Being in Sydney, ICCE was well attended by Australian chemistry academics and a great chance for us to catch up with teaching focussed colleagues from the east coast, and it didn’t break the bank balance to get there.

A number of the internationally recognised superstars in Chemistry education presented their take on the current state of chemistry education at the University level, including:

Peter Mahaffy (King’s University, Canada)

Marcy Towns (Purdue University, USA)

Vincente Talanquer (University of Arizona)

Tom Holme (Iowa State University and ACS Exams Institute)

Ilka Parchmann (University of Kiel)

Tina Overton (Monash University, Australia)

Roy Tasker (formerly University of Western Sydney and currently at Purdue) and

Mei-Hung Chui (National Taiwan Normal University)

The big themes that seemed to dominate ICCE were:

  • Reducing the fragmented knowledge that students often graduate with by using a ‘Systems Thinking’ approach to Chemistry teaching
  • Can the UN Goals for Sustainable Development be used as a ‘hook’/context to encourage students to see how Chemistry can be applied to real world situations
  • Making in silico modelling at the molecular and process levels a central theme in chemistry degree programs

The scope of the BCCE event was grand - much like the jaw dropping campus that is Notre Dame. Apart from the incredible array of on campus housing, the myriad of teaching and research buildings, the lovely park-like areas between buildings, the campus houses its own world class Art Gallery, an 80,000 seat (that isn’t an order of magnitude typo) football stadium and its own 5,000 seat ice hockey stadium – where the opening plenary was held. With 1,600+ delegates and up to 40 concurrent sessions at any one time, it was physically impossible to attend all the potentially interesting presentations and workshops. Some of the ideas that Damian is hoping to discuss with colleagues delivering the Murdoch chemistry program involve:

  • the ‘badging’ of chemistry skills so that students can prove competence to themselves and potential employers
  • some interesting ways to introduce 2-D nmr techniques into second year
  • the use of virtual instrument interfaces to free up time on analytical instruments and allow better alignment between lab and lectures
  • 3D printing of simple analytical instruments
  • ways of incorporating research training into undergraduate units
  • best practice use of virtual animations and simulations across the chemistry curriculum

“It was really exciting to be able to talk to colleagues from big research intensive universities, through liberal arts colleges, and even two year community colleges, to see how people were tackling issues we have been thinking about and be able to chart a possible path to implementing some of these ideas. As a result of attending this conference we have an opportunity to partner with colleagues at Notre Dame on a project monitoring the make-up of prescription and over the counter medicines in developing countries to determine if the medicines being sold have been faked or adulterated. The Distributed Pharmaceutical Analytical Lab (DPAL) project aims to involve undergraduate students in analysing these drugs and comparing their data with others from institutions in North America and Europe. Students will have to establish and verify a US Pharmacopeia methodology to meet all the requisite regulatory quality control issues, prior to being able to analyse authentic samples that have been collected by Notre Dame researchers’. Such an authentic chemical analytical experience will be invaluable for our students and they will be able to showcase this deep engagement with a real world problem to potential employers.”

Leonie, Damian, and Kate are now ‘back in harness’ at Murdoch, attempting to find time to reflect on the ideas generated at both of these excellent conferences and how they might implement them to further enhance Murdoch’s reputation for teaching excellence.

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Damian Laird discussing the pros and cons of using undergraduate students as mentors in teaching labs with Dr. Bobbi Anglin of the University of Arizona.
Opening BCCE plenary session in the Compton Ice Arena – and yes, the cooling was on

Article provided by Dr Damian Laird


It is important to remind all staff of some of the services and assistance that is available to them whilst the University undergoes a structural change as part of Towards 2027.

The School’s Senior Human Resources Advisor is Ms Jacqui Pike. Jacqui can be contacted on or 9360 2283.

All Murdoch employees have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This is a free, confidential counselling service for all employees and immediate family members of employees.

PeopleSense is the EAP provider for Murdoch University and all counselling staff employed by PeopleSense are fully qualified and registered psychologists who have significant experience in organisational environments and in the provision of EAP counselling. PeopleSense can be contacted on 1300 307 912 and no referral is required.

Submitted by School Manager, Rebecca Treloar-Cook


The WA University Poster Competition is a great opportunity for the graduate and postgraduate students who are working on a topic related to Electrical and Energy. Students can present their achievements and capabilities to peers, academics and industry, which is a great chance for them to show off their knowledge and make an effective link to industries. The registration is free but with cash prizes of $1,200 for top four posters. Printing of your posters will be provided as well. Australian Power Institute will award $100 to each student who presents a poster paper at this event on Monday 29th October. For winners, this award will be given in addition to any prizes won for placing.

Dr Ali Arefi is the coordinator of this event at Murdoch University. Please fill in the registration form, found in the website, and send it back to Ali by 8 October 2018 at:

You can find more information on the following webpage: