2014 Graeme Clark Oration: The Next Technology Wave – Biologically Inspired Engineering

In a few short years, new cancer treatments could be available. In the future, tumor cells could be targeted and individually destroyed without surgery. Animal testing could be a horror of the past.

This is the future of healthcare envisioned by Dr Donald Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. In his oration entitled the Next Technology Wave, Dr Ingber will discuss a new era of breakthrough research and innovation, using biologically inspired engineering to demonstrate how healthcare will be improved in the future.

Over the past five years, the Wyss Institute has pioneered a new model for innovation, trans-disciplinary collaboration and technology translation, which has underpinned the research of Dr Ingber and his team.

“It is exciting and timely to have the critical role of convergence in delivering new breakthroughs discussed and better understood,” says Laureate Professor Emeritus Graeme Clark AC, in whose name the Oration is named.

Dr Ingber’s view for the future is grounded in his current research, developing “organs-on-chips”. Lined by living human cells, these microchips recapitulate organ-level structure and function. By engineering an automated instrument, real-time analysis of cellular responses to chemicals and other pharmaceuticals can be implemented.  This leads to a new era of drug testing that does not involve animal subjects and represents a major shift in medical paradigms.

“This will be a rare opportunity for the community, and young scientists in particular, to hear from this international leader how recent advances are opening exciting new possibilities,” says Professor Suzanne Cory AC, President of the Australian Academy of Science.

“While challenges remain, I believe the future is very bright for scientific research aimed at improving human health and well being,” says Professor Clark.

The Graeme Clark Oration is a free public lecture honouring Graeme Clark, inventor of the bionic ear. It aims to celebrate new possibilities for medical and health research emerging from the convergence of biology, computing and engineering.

Dr Ingber’s Oration will occur Thursday June 5 2014 at the Melbourne Convention Centre. Register here to attend.

Graeme Clark has recently commenced a new appointment with the Centre for Neural Engineering (CfNE). Read “Anticipating Technology’s Next Wave” by Annie Rahilly, Voice, Volume 10 Number 5 May 12 – June 8 2014.


Alumni profile: Rin Cheok – Graduate Civil Engineer, Gamuda Berhad Malaysia

Just a few months out of her Master of Engineering (Environmental) at the University of Melbourne, Rin Cheok is already working on a mass rapid transport project that will revolutionise rail infrastructure in Malaysia.

Rin is now working for Malaysia’s leading infrastructure and property developer, Gamuda, as a Graduate Civil Engineer working on the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project, the first Mass Rapid Transit line in Malaysia.

“With this MRT line, public transportation in Kuala Lumpur would be boosted significantly and it will ease traffic congestion,” she said. The MRT line begins north-west of Kuala Lumpur, in Sungai Buloh, moving underground beneath the city, ending in the south-east.

Rin said that her day to day job involves reviewing drawings from consultants, monitoring and reviewing technical queries that come from the site, and ensuring that submission for authorities’ approvals are timely.

“The best part about my job is the opportunity to collaborate with experts from different disciplines to resolve design and site issues.”

Rin embarked on a Master of Engineering, following her Bachelor of Environments undergraduate course at the University of Melbourne. She said she chose Environmental Engineering because she wanted to complement her architectural studies with engineering skills.

“Environmental engineering appealed to me in particular because I wanted to use my technical skills to contribute to a more liveable world.”

Rin said that not only did the course teach her technical skills, but also skills in working with a team on group projects and strategies for approaching problem solving.

“I also enjoyed balancing my studies with fun extra-curricular activities and met lovely, brilliant people from different countries. I loved the vibrant arts and culture in Melbourne, where there is a festival or exhibition taking place every other month.”

For more information about the Master of Engineering (Environmental) visit the Melbourne School of Engineering’s graduate study website.

Changing your career through graduate study at the Melbourne School of Engineering

“Entering the workforce after my undergraduate degree gave me the opportunity to apply my skills professionally. When I came back to uni for postgraduate study, I returned with the idea of treating my study like a full time job. I was able to focus on assignments and do well.”

Razali Mohamad made the decision to return to study to complete a Master of Engineering (Mechatronics) at Melbourne, following his undergraduate studies in computing and mathematics in Western Australia.

He is now a Product Engineer working in the mining industry for Outotec.

Razali’s work involves writing computer software for 3D laser scanners, enabling him to refine the technical knowledge he developed during his undergraduate study in computing and mathematics, paired with the skills gained from his graduate course in Mechatronics.

“The best part of my job is the opportunity to work on very difficult and complex problems with a very capable team. Solving these problems and seeing the solution implemented to solve real world problems is very satisfying.”

Razali initially chose to undertake work in industry after his undergraduate degree, which he said was a great experience.

Yet ever since he was young, Razali had possessed a passion for taking things apart, finding out how they worked, and putting them back together.

“I’ve always enjoyed building things and wanted to extend my skill set to allow me to do that. Mechatronics is a dynamic field. It is demanding higher performance, efficiency and productivity to stay competitive,” said Razali.

“My motivation to do graduate study at Melbourne stemmed from a colleague who studied mechatronics, so I started looking around the country for what was available, and Melbourne stood out.”

“I wanted to be surrounded by and to interact with people who were passionate about their work. I wanted to be pushed to be my best. At Melbourne, I gained the confidence to tackle the seemingly impossible.”

Studying at Melbourne, Razali was able to take his passion for learning and engineering to its full potential. Becoming a student ambassador and forming the Mechatronics Society, Razali facilitated networking and professional skill development for mechatronics students.

“I had the opportunity to work with many like-minded people, many of whom have become good friends and now work across Australia and overseas. I formed study groups with my peers because I realized groups can provide support during really frustrating periods,” said Razali.

“The academics showed great interest in those who made an effort, and I had the privilege of working with some of the most hard working and talented young student engineers.”

For More information about the Master of Engineering (Mechatronics) visit the Melbourne School of Engineering’s graduate study website.


Discipline Spotlight: Biochemical Engineering

If you are interested in career options that could see you designing consumer products like lipstick and cosmetics, developing the latest pharmaceuticals to combat disease, or helping our cheese producers make outstanding products, then biochemical engineering could be the field for you.

Biochemical engineers work wherever biology is used at a large scale, combining biological, chemical and engineering processes in order to design and create new materials that are useful and often have applications in areas of critical global importance, such as food security, human health and environmental sustainability.

These are some of the areas where biochemical engineers can enjoy rewarding and well-paid careers:

  • Design and development of cosmetics, beauty products, toothpaste, shampoo and other consumer products
  • Environmental remediation: making a positive impact on the environment by developing processes to clean contamination in sensitive areas
  • The dairy industry – improving yields and processes for the production of products such as cheese, chocolate, yoghurt and infant formula
  • The creation of biofuels as a sustainable fuel source
  • Waste water treatment
  • Pharmaceuticals

The University of Melbourne is home to many world-leading researchers in the field of biochemical engineering. Dr Sally Gras is the head of the new Dairy Innovation Hub, an ARC funded research hub working with key dairy industry figures to improve processes and products for the local and export markets. The University of Melbourne also houses a small-scale cheese production facility, allowing researchers to examine the microstructure of cheese and devise means of improving the product’s texture and yield.

Our researchers are also working on the use of microalgae to create sustainable biodiesel. Researchers are working on ways of cleaning up waste in sensitive ecosystems such as Antarctica, through the use of bioremediation. They are also creating new particulate fluids, such as emulsions and dispersions, which form the basis of many biochemical products.

The Master of Engineering (Biochemical)

The University of Melbourne offers an internationally accredited professional graduate program in biochemical engineering, the Master of Engineering (Biochemical). The Master of Engineering is unique in Australia in that it is professionally recognised under two major accreditation frameworks — EUR-ACE® and the Washington Accord (through Engineers Australia). As a result, graduates can work as professional engineers throughout Europe, and as professional engineers in the 13 countries of the Washington Accord. The University of Melbourne is ranked 1st in Australia and 16th in world for Chemical Engineering, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2014.

The Master of Engineering (Biochemical) teaches students the fundamentals of biochemical engineering, including the design of bioprocesses and bioproducts that have applications in areas such as health, pharmaceuticals, consumer products, food engineering, environmental remediation and more.

Students benefit from guest lectures and interaction with industry representatives throughout the course, including a final year biochemical engineering design project and a second project, which may take the form of a biochemical research project or an industrial placement.

Our graduates can find employment with companies such as: CSL Limited, GlaxoSmithKline, National Foods, Nestlé, Kraft Foods and Melbourne Water and with organisations such as the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). Biochemical engineering graduates from the University of Melbourne are also professionally accredited as chemical engineers, meaning that career opportunities also span traditional chemical engineering fields such as minerals processing, chemical manufacturing and natural gas.


michelle_portraitMichelle Tie
Current Student
Master of Engineering (Biochemical)

Michelle Tie is currently undertaking her Master of Engineering (Biochemical) after graduating from the Bachelor of Science (Chemical Systems) at the University of Melbourne. Michelle was recently awarded the 2013 Victorian Chemical Engineering Student Encouragement Award by the Joint Victorian Committee of the Institute of Chemical Engineers and Engineers Australia.

Michelle said that she was fascinated with the way that engineering can branch into other fields, such as biology, increasing the opportunities to expose yourself to other disciplines, while still retaining an engineering focus. She said that she really enjoyed the culture of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and how even as a student she is made to feel a part of it.

“My favourite thing about the course and about university in general is how you get to meet and work with all these amazing people; your peers, your lecturers, your tutors, and the professional staff you may interact with. Being a small course, it’s much easier to get to know people and feel like you belong.”

Michelle said she had enjoyed the industry involvement, including guest lectures and an excursion to a yeast fermentation plant.

“It is one thing to learn about process equipment in theory, but seeing, hearing and smelling a large scale process in person certainly gives you a different perspective on things!”

Aside from her studies, Michelle has been involved in coordinating the schools outreach program for the Endeavour Expo of final year engineering projects, allowing her to combine her love of teaching with her passion for engineering. She said that she hopes to continue in research and academia following her graduation.

“Perhaps I’m naïve and altruistic but I strongly believe that those are two ways to shape the future, and that engineering is a great way to make a difference in this world.”

To find out more about the Master of Engineering (Biochemical), visit the Melbourne School of Engineering’s graduate website.

New Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety

L-R is Inspector David Williams (Victoria Police), Professor Abbas Rajabifard (UoM), Detective Inspector Ged Griffin (Victoria Police), Mr Craig Lapsley (Emergency Services Commissioner of Victoria), Mr Geoff Spring (APCO Australasia), Mr Terry Hall (APCO International)
L-R is Inspector David Williams (Victoria Police), Professor Abbas Rajabifard (Infrastructure Engineering, UoM), Detective Inspector Ged Griffin (Victoria Police), Mr Craig Lapsley (Emergency Services Commissioner of Victoria), Mr Geoff Spring (APCO Australasia), Mr Terry Hall (APCO International)

Professor Abbas Rajabifard, Head of the Department of Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne, welcomed distinguished guests from across disaster management and public safety domains, both national and international, to the official launch of the new Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety (CDMPS) on April 29, 2014 at the International Public Safety Conference (APCO Australasia 2014) held in Melbourne.

Since the University of Melbourne’s partnership with IBM Australia last year to develop and progress the Australian Disaster Management Platform (ADMP), a decision was made to establish a focused research hub to conduct multi-disciplinary research and training on disaster management and public safety. As part of the Department of Infrastructure Engineering’s role in leading ADMP, they have established the CDMPS on behalf of the University. The Centre will be led by Professor Abbas Rajabifard as Director.

Victorian Emergency Management Commissioner (Designate), Mr Craig Lapsley, officially declared the Centre open, providing a succinct overview of the Centre, as well as his vote of support. The CDMPS will play a key role in forging new relationships and collaborations in the realm of disaster management and public safety.

Presentations at the Next Generation of Disaster Management and Public Safety Workshop, that followed the launch, included a showcase of the Intelligent Disaster Decision Support System (IDDSS) – a project led by Infrastructure Engineering and funded by the Justice Department. Flood and bushfire scenarios were shown and the capabilities of IDDSS explained. An industry panel comprising industry representatives from IBM, APCO, Victoria Police and VicRoads provided insight into the future pathways for disaster management.

The CDMPS website and the Disaster Management Research Register (DMRR) were also launched and introduced during the workshop.

Go Girls are Go for Global Hacking Challenge

Hackathon brainstormingThe International Women’s Hackathon is an annual event held on university campuses around the world, empowering women to become leaders in computer science and solve challenges affecting women.

“In my Computing and IT classes, I can see there are very few girls compared to boys. I see women who could have flourished in STEM fields choose other fields. They believe that they somehow do not belong in STEM,” says Nitika Mathur, University of Melbourne coordinator of the Hackathon and current Master of Science (Computer Science) student.

To combat gender stereotypes and expectations, the Hackathon used the theme of women in STEM to guide their programming projects. By developing a website which facilitated mentoring for girls in STEM, one team addressed the lack of role models in STEM disciplines. Other projects tackled youth issues, creating an iPhone game that challenges users’ ability to drive a car while texting. This game raises awareness about the difficulty and danger of using mobile phones while driving.

“I’d definitely call it a success. Participants learn a lot, interact with each other and can build their network. They had a lot of fun and were proud of what they had accomplished over the weekend,” says Nitika.

Despite the computing and information science focus, the Hackathon was also open to students with little programming experience. “Some were apprehensive about the project, but they were still able to contribute a lot to their team. A commerce student later told me that she was glad she decided to participate. If it wasn’t for the focus on women, she would never have participated in a hackathon,” says Nitika.

The success of the Hackathon was also evident in the event’s growth, attracting a greater number of female hackers than last year. In 2013, the event spanned 14 campuses in seven countries, with more than 600 university women participating. This year, the Hackathon grew to include 85 campuses in 13 countries, and an estimated 2000 participants.

In the University of Melbourne division of the Hackathon, Women in ICT Society with the help of IEEE Women in Engineering student affinity group organised the event, with additional sponsorship from the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) and the Department of Computing and Information Systems (CIS).


Full steam ahead for Robogals CEO Nicole Brown

Bachelor of Science (Civil Systems) student Nicole Brown never imagined she would be overseeing an international organisation by the age of 21. Yet now she is Global CEO of Robogals, an organisation on a worldwide mission to change the gender imbalance in the engineering profession.

Headquartered at The University of Melbourne, Robogals was founded by Engineering graduate and former Young Australian of the Year, Marita Cheng. Nicole took on the Global CEO role in 2013. As CEO, Nicole oversees an international network of volunteers who visit schools and inspire girls to take on careers in engineering, science and technology.

Nicole said that the new role brought with it a steep learning curve.

“Taking over the role from Marita was quite a big step but I’ve loved every minute of it,” she said.

“I love the opportunity to promote women in engineering and the chance to empower girls to do something that is not traditionally advertised toward them.”

“I’m learning so much more then I thought I would in a million years, especially at this age. It is daunting, but I have a really good team around me; a team of university students who share the same passion I do and who are working together to make a difference.”

Nicole is currently presiding over a period of unprecedented growth for the organisation. She said the rate of growth had been unexpected, with a large number of contacts from universities around the world getting in touch with her in order to start new Robogals chapters.

“We’ve currently doubled our chapter base in the UK, which is really impressive.”

“We’re one step away from starting chapters in the Philippines and Cape Town in South Africa, as well as about seven other universities around the world.”

Nicole said that she loved the opportunity to meet students from around the world who were passionate about increasing the participation of women in the engineering field. She also said it was not only engineering students who were now joining Robogals.

“We currently have members who are Arts students that are studying to be teachers, we have artificial intelligence students in the UK and others in America that are studying to be astronauts.”

Nicole said that she came to engineering by accident, that throughout high school she was initially planning to study physiotherapy. However during an aptitude test she found she enjoyed working with shapes and orientation. Her careers counselor asked Nicole if she had considered engineering.

“From there I never looked back,” she said.

Nicole said that she was initially unsure of which area of engineering she wanted to specialise in, and that as such, she loved the opportunities offered by a Science degree at Melbourne.

“I thought I could do the Bachelor of Science at Melbourne because it gives me that opportunity to try different things. I was able to continue French for two years and to do a management subject.”

Nicole was also able to secure a Women in Engineering, ‘Dream Big’ cadetship at the Melbourne office of engineering firm Brown Consulting, which offered her real world experience in many different areas of engineering, from Civil, to Town Planning and Surveying.

Nicole soon discovered that Structural Engineering is her area of interest. She will soon embark on her Master of Engineering (Structural) at The Melbourne School of Engineering, all while continuing on as Robogals CEO alongside her work at Brown Consulting.

Nicole said that her Robogals experience has inspired her to pursue a managerial career in engineering, and to continue working with Robogals, and on women in engineering initiatives once her tenure as CEO is finished at the end of 2015.

“Robogals has been invaluable. I’ve learnt so much about things I had never imagined.”

“I’ve seen that all the countries we work in are at different stages in their understanding of opportunities for women in engineering.”

“In my opinion Australia is in one of the best situations. Many companies are now accepting the fact that there is a lot of potential for female engineers and we need to do something to increase awareness and opportunities for women.”

To find out more about Robogals, visit http://www.robogals.org/

Cardiac quest: Insights from stimulating the heart’s geometry and function

Professor Edmund Crampin
Professor Edmund Crampin

Professor Edmund Crampin discusses his research into creating a computational model of the human heart with Dr Shane Huntington in the latest edition of UpClose,  entitled “Cardiac quest: Insights from simulating the heart’s geometry and function”.

Professor Crampin is the Rowden White Chair of Systems and Computational Biology at the University of Melbourne, where he is Director of the Systems Biology Laboratory at the Melbourne School of Engineering, as well as being an Adjunct Professor in the Faculties of Science and Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.

His research uses mathematical and computer modeling to investigate regulatory processes and pathways underlying complex human diseases. Current research projects in the Systems Biology Lab focus on building mathematical models of heart cells to understand the development of heart disease, and developing computational approaches to study the network of molecular interactions underlying the development of cancer. The Lab is also involved in projects in biosensor design, biomarker identification, and development of computational tools and standards for integrative systems biology.

Read the transcript or download the mp3 online.

3D Printing could be in a cafe near you

3D printing; house of cards; plastic; machine; MAP; Katie Ewing; Jin Png; Meet3DIn 1436, we had the Gutenberg Printing Press. We could produce large amounts of writing cheaply and quickly. In 2014, we have 3D printing. We can now produce three-dimensional figures cheaply and quickly, based on computerised models. You could create a replica of your favourite sculpture. You could print a three-dimensional model of your business logo. Or maybe you have a passion for creativity and would like a new way to create your own jewellery. The applications of 3D printing are boundless. Despite this, many people are still unaware of this emerging technology.

Katie Ewing and Jin Png, founders of Meet3D, aim to change this.

“People may have heard about 3D printing, but have never seen a printer live. We’re establishing a simple and fun on-ramp to the world of 3D printing,” says Katie.

By showcasing 3D printing in Melbourne cafes, Katie and Jin hope to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology. “With Meet3D, anyone who grabs a coffee or eats brunch in a café can learn about 3D printing,” says Jin.

Recently, the pair demonstrated 3D printing in conjunction with the University of Melbourne’s House of Cards. Producing Rodin’s Thinker, the café’s personalized logo and many other models, students and staff were fascinated by the technology. In early May, Meet3D will showcase 3D printing with Kere Kere in Southbank, where Katie and Jin hope to reach a broader crowd, including professional workers and tourists.

Currently, Katie and Jin are applying for the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP), which helps budding entrepreneurs get innovative ideas off the ground and into the marketplace. By providing financial support, mentoring and networking opportunities, MAP is a unique way to help small businesses find success.

“MAP will help us realize our business and become better entrepreneurs. There is a lot that goes into a business and MAP is teaching us how to do this,” says Katie. The team receives support from Paul Mignone and the ITS Research Department. Empowering people to become ‘digital blacksmiths.’ They hold drop-in sessions every Monday for people interested in learning more about 3D printing.


Climate change public seminar – IPCC Working Group III: What’s in it for Australia?

Head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Professor Sandra Kentish will joint a panel of experts to discuss climate change at a free public seminar, entitled IPCC Working Group III: What’s in it for Australia to be held on Thursday May 8, 2014, 6.30 – 8.15pm in the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre, Professor’s Walk, Arts West Building, the University of Melbourne, Parkville Campus.

Other speakers will  include: Dr Roger Dargaville, Energy Systems Analyst, Melbourne Energy Institute, Associate Professor Frank Jotzo, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, Dr Damon Honnery, Faculty of Engineering, Monash University and Professor Ross Garnaut, Vice Chancellor’s Fellow and Professorial Fellow in Economics, the University of Melbourne.

The seminar will draw on the latest publication of the IPCC Working Group III, ‘Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change’.

The report presents all “relevant options for mitigating climate change through limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere”.

Presentations and Q&A will address its key findings and what they mean for Australia.

This is the first of a series of events in the Climate and Energy Seminar Series hosted by the Australian-German College of Climate and Energy Transitions, in partnership with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute and the Melbourne Energy Institute.

Please register your attendance online.


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