School of Engineering and IT

School of Engineering and Information Technology

Dean's Newsletter

November 2018

Dean - Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski

November brings the end of semester two, examinations and the end of another eventful academic year. I hope that all students have reached their full potential.

This month we welcome Dr Syed Afaq Shah to the Discipline of Information Technology.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Nicola Armstrong, Dr Mohammednoor Altarawneh, Dr Ali Arefi, Dr Devindri Perera, Dr Gerrard Poinern, Dr Farhad Shahnia and Dr Danny Toohey, all of whom have been either promoted or awarded tenure. This a great outcome for our School with so many excellent people among us being recognised for their performance.

Further congratulations are extended to the School at large for the excellent QILT results received this year, in which Murdoch has topped the charts for satisfaction of postgraduate students in STEM disciplines as reported in The Australian on Wednesday 14th November, 2018.

Lastly, it was with much sorrow that we farewelled one of our beloved staff members Iafeta (Jeff) Laava, who sadly passed away suddenly this month. Jeff was a valued friend and colleague who worked closely with many of us, and contributed to the education of our students, especially in Electrical Engineering.

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


Winning Team at Western Power Hack-A-Gig Machine Learning Challenges
AMSI Scholarship Recipient
Inaugural IEEE Murdoch University Student Branch Meeting
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
WA Universities Electric Energy Poster Competition 2018
3rd Smart Cities Forum Melbourne
AWA Water Prize
Lifetime Contribution Award
Universities and Moerk Water Showcase Sustainable Water Solutions
Science-Industry PhD Fellowship
RACI Heads of Chemistry 2018
Murdoch Tops in Postgraduate STEM Satisfaction
Farewell Iafeta (Jeff) Laava
Welcome Dr Syed Afaq Shah



Western Power organized the first Hack-A-Gig event this year. It launched two challenges that were to be completed in 6 weeks. Murdoch University’s team formed by Anupiya Nugaliyadde (PhD student in IT), Upeka Somaratne (PhD student in IT) and Associate Professor Kevin Wong who participated in "Challenge 1: Derive insight from smart meter data". Participants in this challenge needed to develop machine based learning techniques to forecast electricity consumption 7 days in advance for each consumer. Team Murdoch University developed a deep learning algorithm to do the forecasting. The model developed by the Team is also capable of forecasting 5 months in advance with high accuracy. The predictions can be used to improve the power distribution and handle power disruptions. The proposed solution is also capable of supporting individual consumers to better understand their future electricity consumption. Besides providing good prediction results, the finalists also needed to pitch to a team of judges at Western Power on 8 November 2018. We are pleased to announce that Team Murdoch University is one of the winning teams for the challenge.

01 Team Murdoch1.jpg 03 Team Murdoch3.jpg 02 Team Murdoch2.jpg

Article submitted by Anupiya Nugaliyadde


Congratulations to Michelle Gardiner who recently applied for and received a Vacation Research Scholarship (VRS) by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI).

Michelle has been awarded a stipend of $3,000 ($500 per week) to complete her six-week mathematical sciences project, starting in November/December 2018. At the conclusion of her project, she will participate in AMSIConnect, the national AMSI conference for Vacation Research Scholars (6-8 February 2019).

At AMSIConnect, all students will present their findings to and network with their fellow Scholars. AMSIConnect will take place at the University of Melbourne’s International House. All meals and accommodation will be included. Return travel will also be included for those at universities outside Melbourne.

Submitted by Gerd Schroeder-Turk


We are pleased to announce that we are now recruiting our 2019 cohort of Student Ambassadors to work alongside the Future Students and Outreach teams.

The first networking event of IEEE Murdoch University Student Branch (MUSB) was held on 25th October, 2018, since its reopening in August. IEEE MUSB is a platform for the students of Murdoch University to develop their professional identity in the field of Engineering under the largest professional community of the world. More than 30 undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students from Electrical Engineering, Energy and IT backgrounds, attended the event. The event was organized with two presentations and a socializing session afterwards.

Student branch advisor, Dr Farhad Shahnia welcomed everyone to the event followed by the first presentation by branch Chair, Mr Md Asaduzzaman Shoeb introducing the students to the IEEE aims, visions and objectives towards the global community and the role that the student branch can play to achieve that. The second presentation was a technical talk given by Mr Taskin Jamal, a graduating PhD student. The event was ended over pizza and drinks and a chance to get acquainted as the attendees shared their thoughts, opinions and the benefits of joining the IEEE student branch.

Here are some of the key moments of the events:

Student Branch Chair, Mr. Md Asaduzzaman Shoeb is giving his presentation on IEEE and its structure. Graduating PhD candidate Mr Taskin Jamal sharing the key points and research outcomes with attendees.
Socialising and networking after the event over pizza and drinks

Article submitted by Md Shoeb


Photo 36 2K scholarship back page.JPG


scholarships for scientific excellence.JPG


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 Western Australia Chapter of the Electric Energy Society of Australia (EESA) and Engineers Australia (EA), has been holding a poster presentation prize competition for Power/Energy Engineering students enrolled in a Western Australian University offering degree program at any level that, enables student to meet the stage 1 competency of Engineers Australia.

The EESA poster prize competition is aimed at bringing graduating students and potential colleagues and employers from Industry together in experiencing first hand some of the excellent work carried out by the student engineers. Students will have the opportunity to show case/demonstrate their work and the industry attendees will have the opportunity to experience the quality of the student’s work and engage in conversation with them in an informal way, to eventually lead to mutually beneficial enterprises including potential employment, further research to potential patents, and at the very least a wonderful networking opportunity.

This year, this competition was held at University of Western Australia on 29th October 2018, with participation of industry partners such as Horizon Power, Woodside, and 36 posters from four universities in WA including Murdoch University, University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and Edith Cowan University. The first four top winners received their cash prizes on the day, and were judged only by industry colleagues, based on the criteria of Alignment, Contents, Presentation, Delivery, and Engagements. All participant also received $100 cash from API.

Dr Ali Arefi is a member of the organizing committee and the coordinator of this program at Murdoch University, which is also the sponsor of the event. Ali is proud to get the Murdoch University to the highest level of achievement in this round of competition, with the presentation of 16 posters from Murdoch University out of 36 posters in total, accounting for 45% of the total contribution from Murdoch. The list of students who participated in the competition from Murdoch University are as follows:

  1. Anup KC
  2. Emeka Nwoba
  3. Furat Dawood
  4. Ivonne Tshuma
  5. Javid Maleki
  6. Jinping Zhao
  7. M.D. Assaduzamman Shoeb
  8. Muhamamd Adnan Hayat
  9. Nooshin Shekarchy
  10. Yuli Astriani
  11. Pratigya Sharma
  12. Sangita Bista
  13. Reza Dalilotejari
  14. S.M Ferdous
  15. Dale Hobbs
  16. Taskin Jamal

Murdoch University participants were able to meet and talk with electric energy industry professionals, consultants, government and academia and also other students from WA, whilst raising the profile and capacity of Murdoch University with the interest groups that really matter.

08 Poster Competition 1 using.JPG
09 Poster Competition2.jpg 10 Poster Competition3.jpg
Right: Mr Russell Ellen, the Chair. Left: Dr Ali Arefi, The organising committee member and the coordinator

Article submitted by Dr Ali Arefi, Senior Lecturer in Electrical Engineering


Adjunct, Dr Stewart Dallas, recently presented research findings from his Renew Nexus project at the 3rd Smart Cities and Urban Transformation Forum. Dr Dallas is leading research into new smart city water supply systems using peer to peer trading and block chain. A major trial is underway with City of Fremantle and Water Corporation. The project is funded by the Australian Government Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. Dr Dallas gave a wonderful and engaging panel discussion. The delegates enjoyed what he shared with them immensely and took away some great lessons to help them in their smart cities journey. He was able to exchange knowledge with other speakers and professionals and networked with the delegates and shared insights with them.

Dr Dallas is working with Dr Martin Anda, Dr Roberta Fornarelli, Dr Mario Schmack and Furat Dawood, as well as colleagues at Curtin University.

The project will be completed in June next year and it is expected there will be ongoing related initiatives with the project partners, Telstra, Water Corporation and Landcorp, as well as the various water industry participants and community stakeholders.

Article submitted by Dr Martin Anda


Congratulations to Tom Wheeler, the winner of the Student Water Prize (Award sponsored by GHD) for: Renewable Energy Reverse Osmosis Desalination in a Small Rural Village in Indonesia: Case Study – Tom Wheeler, Murdoch University. As a winner, Tom will automatically be entered into the National Australian Water Awards category, which will be presented at Ozwater Oxater’19 in Melbourne, 7 – 9 May 2019.

11 Tom Wheeler WA Water Awards.JPGTom is a dedicated Environmental Engineering student at Murdoch University and has completed overseas and domestic internships, and takes on multiple volunteering opportunities to share his passion for innovative solutions for environmental problems. His project aims to benefit communities that are facing a limited supply of potable water. The project provides a detailed optimisation of renewable energy, seawater reverse osmosis desalination to enable a sustainable water supply that is viable through solar energy.

Tom spent 6-months last year in South-East Java, Indonesia, interning for Badan Pengkajian dan Penerapan Teknologi (BPPT) an organisation much like CSIRO here in Australia. Tom worked in a rural village called Baron on a Renewable Energy Reverse Osmosis Desalination unit, where he focused on optimising the system to enable the highest productivity of the unit. He then used this optimisation to design similar units for other remote parts of Indonesia, with the aim of creating a sustainable water supply for remote villages in the Indo-Pacific region. His research also focused on the holistic approach of eliminating single-use plastic water containers at the source, by creating a business model that provides reusable water bottles for the users.

Article submitted by Dr Martin Anda and Tom Wheeler

LIFETIME CONTRIBUTION AWARD12 Lifetime Contribution Award.jpg

At its last triennial symposium in Taipei, Taiwan, the Asia-Oceania Association for Fire Science and Technology honoured Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski, with the Lifetime Contribution Award. He is the first Australian distinguished this way by the Association. The Association bestows two Lifetime Contribution Awards every three years. The photograph captures Professor Dlugogorski collecting his Award in Taipei from Professor Wan-Ki Chow of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the current President of the Asia-Oceania Association for Fire Science and Technology.

Article submitted by Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski


Federal member for Curtin and former foreign minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP joined water experts and students from Murdoch and Curtin Universities at City Beach groine on Thursday to discuss new drinking water technologies developed by Australian company Moerk Water Solutions.

Ms Bishop was invited to learn more about the joint initiatives between the parties to provide potable water to Indo-Pacific communities and isolated areas of WA, using small-scale solar powered desalination units.

Murdoch University Academic Chair Environmental Engineering Dr Martin Anda explained that he and his students were able to successfully implement desalination units designed by Moerk Water Solutions in several Indonesian villages.

“Through this program, the Murdoch students have taken the kits to some remote communities in Indonesia, and provided members of those communities with onsite training in how to take ownership and operate the technology,” Dr Anda said.

“Following on from the success of the first phase of research and implementation of the units, we will be taking the next batch to additional communities in India and Indonesia in early 2019.”

Recent WA Water Awards student water prize winner and Murdoch Environmental Engineering student, Tom Wheeler discussed his recent application to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Friendship grant, where he has partnered with Moerk Water Solutions, Bottle for Botol and Surfrider Foundation Australia to provide a holistic approach of reducing single use plastic whilst providing a sustainable water supply through the deployment of these units in a school on Nusa Lembongan, Bali.

“Children are using single use plastic cups every day which are causing detrimental impacts to the environment and there health as they are either end up in the ocean, landfill, or the common practice of being burnt at the end of the school day” he said.

13 Water.jpg“By partnering with Moerk Water Solution we have come up with a solution of using these solar power desalination units and providing reusable water bottles to eliminate single use plastic at the source whilst providing a sustainable water supply to the community.”

Similar projects are underway using Moerk Water Solutions desalination devices in remote Western Australia, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Myanmar and East Africa – giving about 15,000 people access to drinking water.

Ms Bishop was then offered a sample of the drinking water that was desalinated by the system using seawater sourced from City Beach.


Dr Polychronis Koutsakis recently applied and was successful in obtaining a Science-Industry PhD Fellowship for his PhD student Mohamed Ali. Mohamed has already got a MUSPS scholarship, in which yStop, a WA company specialising in smart furniture, is contributing matching funds for the scholarship. Mohamed's project title is: "A novel real-time dynamic crowd measurement system based on smart street furniture" and belongs into the general research area of Smart Cities and the Internet of Things.

The Science-Industry PhD Fellowship is a new initiative by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation of WA ( and both Mohamed and Polychronis are thrilled that Mohamed’s Fellowship was the first, and until now the only one that has been accepted, as informed by Dr Natasha Ayers, Managing Director of Innovation Cluster, who is a consultant for the program.

Article submitted by Dr Polychronis Koutsakis


RACI Heads of Chemistry (HOCs) meeting was held this year at Curtin University and was attended by David Henry as the Murdoch representative. A broad agenda was prepared for the meeting by RACI President elect, Vicki Gardiner and host, Professor Mark Buntine.

The opening presentation was given by Nathan Curnow from the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA). Nathan described the growing challenges faced by teachers including the differences in interpretation of the National Curriculum adopted by each state, the expectation of teaching STEM soft skills, the design thinking process making sciences more like engineering and the challenges posed by the expectations of Generation Z.

Professor Martina Stenzel provided an update on the activities of the Australian Academy of Science National Chemistry Committee and their engagement with Government, IUPAC and SAGE. One of the current projects is the development of activities for the International Year of the Periodic Table, which include a Lecture Series on the Chemistry of Elements and a Photo competition.

Professor Muthupandian Ashokkumar reported on the ARC Industry Transformation Training Centre (ITTC). One of the programmes offered by the ITTC is the Master of Science Industrial Research that includes a research project placement in Chemical Industry, including the availability of 2 year scholarships. President Gardiner then coordinated a workshop on the Decadal Plan for Chemistry, with separate groups focussing on, 1). Big Questions/Challenges in Chemistry, 2). ERA Impact and Engagement, 3). Working with Industry 4). Diversity and 5). Secondary to Tertiary Transition.

There were also discussions about Chemical Store Management, Risk Assessments in Undergraduate Labs and Accreditation. Professor Sue Thomas (ARC CEO), gave an update on ARC funding and outcomes. This was followed by a presentation from Dr Barney Jones from WesCEF/CSBP outlining the graduate attributes that industry are seeking. The final presentation was from Anna Ahveninen (RACI) on the International Young Chemists Network and the opportunities available for post-graduate students and ECRs. If anyone in SEIT would like further information about any of the items discussed at RACI HOCs, please contact David Henry (

Article submitted by Dr David Henry


In the edition of The Australian on the 14th November 2019 it reported that Murdoch University tops the nation for satisfaction of postgraduate students studying STEM disciplines.

Obviously, we share this achievement with our colleagues in Vet & Life Sciences, Psychology & Exercise Science and Health Professions, and shows the achievement of the University on a national scale.

The considerable contribution the staff have made over a number of years in educating and supporting our postgraduate students has contributed to the overall positioning of Murdoch as number 1 in Australia.

Academic, administrative and technical staff members alike, the students appreciate and recognise your efforts and contribution.

13a STEM satisfaction.jpg

Written by Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski and Rebecca Treloar-Cook


14 Iafetta Jeff Laava.jpgIt was with considerable sadness that we heard of the sudden passing of our friend and colleague Iafeta Lava – known to everyone as Jeff. Jeff joined Electrical Engineering from Fiji more than 7 years ago providing skilled technical expertise in the area of electrical engineering. Jeff was exceptionally well regarded by both academics and students and always had a smile for everyone. Nothing was too much for Jeff and went above and beyond to assist academics and students with their technical queries and requests. His smile was infectious and he had such a tremendously warm and welcoming personality.

Jeff’s sudden passing has taken us all by surprise. Should you require support, please let your supervisor know or contact the Employee Assistance Program provider ‘PeopleSense’ who are available to assist with professional, confidential counselling. They can be reached on 1 300 307 912.

The School has made arrangement for flowers to be sent to Jeff’s family and we are investigating other ways in which to recognise his contribution to the School. One thing is for certain, Jeff won’t be forgotten by his colleagues.

Jeff is survived by his wife and children.

Article submitted by School Manager, Rebecca Treloar-Cook


The School would like to welcome, Dr Syed Afaq Shad (known as Afaq) to the Discipline of Information Technology.

Dr. Syed Afaq Shah worked as a Lecturer at Central Queensland University (CQU) and as an Adjunct Lecturer with the University of Western Australia (UWA). Prior to joining CQU, he worked as Research Associate at UWA, where he was awarded three competitive research grants and an award. He received his PhD in 3D computer vision and machine learning from UWA. He was awarded several prestigious scholarships such as Scholarship for International Research Fee (SIRF), Research Training Scheme (RTS) and UWA Top-Up scholarship.

Syed has developed deep learning systems and various feature selection algorithms for 3D object recognition, reconstruction and face recognition. He has co-authored a book, “A Guide to Convolutional Neural Networks for Computer Vision” and published 27 research papers in high impact factor journals and IEEE conferences. He has over six years of academic teaching experience. He holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering degrees.

Syed has served as a program committee member for several computer vision conferences such as IEEE WACV, ACIVS and MISSI. He reviews papers for IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (TPAMI), IEEE Transactions on Cybernetics, IEEE Transactions on Image Processing, Pattern Recognition, and Journal of Real Time Image Processing (Springer).

Prior to commencing his academic career in 2012, he worked for seven years in the aviation industry.

We warmly welcome Afaq to the School.

Article submitted by School Manager, Rebecca Treloar-Cook