All posts by Karen Taylor-Brown

Advanced repair technology shows promise for rails in remote locations

Researchers from Monash University and ANSTO collaborated with engineers from the Institute of Railway Technology (IRT)the premier track and vehicle railway research centre in Australia and Hardchrome Engineering,  a sovereign heavy manufacturing company to develop a reliable and efficient laser-based rail repair technology.

Roy at Kowari

Taposh Roy (left) , and Quan Hoi (centre) with Anna Paradowska at the Kowari instrument

The team used a nuclear technique at ANSTO’s Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering on the Kowari instrument to evaluate a laser cladding repair technique, which is an established method to repair high-value components in other industries on heavy haul rails.

The method could increase the service life of rails and reduce maintenance time and costs, as repairing rails is preferable to replacing them.

Industry partner Hardchrome, an ARC Linkage project partner, have vast experience and expertise in the use of laser cladding technology for manufacturing and repairs in the mining sector.   

Heavy haul rails repairs, however, present significant challenges to the manufactures as they cannot be performed in the controlled environment of the factory but rather need to be done in the remote areas of the Australian outback.

In research published in the Journal of Materials Processing Technology, they conclude that advanced laser technology could be used on heavy haul rails and that detrimental stresses could be reduced or mitigated from critical regions of the repair.

With laser cladding, repairs are made by coating the damaged rail surface with a stainless steel or cobalt-based alloy in single or double layers using a laser technology.

“Laser cladding can deposit these beneficial materials onto damaged areas but can also introduce or re-distribute residual stresses,” explained Taposh Roy, Monash PhD graduate,  currently a Project Engineer Melbourne Metro Trains.

Stresses in heavy haul rails

Investigators used neutron scattering on the Kowari strain scanner on a full-scale railhead to measure residual stresses created by the heat generated by the laser during the cladding deposition process (pictured above).

As part of this, the team developed a new procedure to evaluate residual stresses in thick sections of full-scale cladded rails.

“Only neutrons can penetrate through the deep surface of the rail material, and measure full triaxial stress distribution non-destructively with little preparation” said Roy.

To acquire measurements in small gauge volumes on a large path length through the steel, they made blind holes in the sample. Taking measurement at the middle of the two holes,  also avoided a disturbance of local stresses.

“We found that the application of a post cladding heat treatment significantly reduced the residual stresses from the surface and the subsurface of the cladded rails,” said Roy.

The method appears to be superior to conventional arc weld based cladding methods, the most common techniques to repair wear damage in rails.   

“These successful in-house repair trials are very encouraging to explore further the application of this technology as a portable and mobilised unit, that can be deployed to address the rail maintenance problems in remote areas of Australia,” said Prof Anna Paradowska, Industry Engagement Manager, Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering and Conjoint Professor The University of Sydney.

This research was a finalist in ANSTO’s Neutron and Deuteration Impact Awards, demonstrating its relevance to transport, one of Australia’s research priorities.

New tracking and metrics platform to unlock $2 trillion economic opportunity

Image: Supplied

A new circular economy metrics platform has been launched by NSW Circular to help councils, precincts, industry and communities track their transition to zero waste. 

The dashboards, with consistently updated data, provide key performance indicators on the progress of the circular economy in Australia, how much waste we are generating, what types of waste, and where circular economy opportunities may be growing. 

NSW Circular CEO Lisa McLean said: “The circular economy is a $2 trillion opportunity in Australia – these metrics will help government, councils, industry and all of us track how we are progressing to unlock new business opportunities, jobs and investment,” 

“As we enter the resource and carbon-constrained economy, recycling, reusing and designing out waste will provide exciting new circular economic opportunities,” 

“These metrics will help identify areas where waste can be used as a resource, how new emerging circular industries and jobs can be measured and help us all get on with building a strong zero-waste, zero-carbon circular future.” said McLean. 

The two new dashboards from NSW Circular launched today are as follows: 

1. Australian Circularity Benchmarks: A new portal by NSW Circular where business, government and communities can track Australia’s progress to a circular economy.

2. My Circular Community: Bespoke peer benchmarking reports and interactive metrics dashboards for local councils and their community to visualise key waste management and recycling metrics and trends to expand services and solutions. Councils and professionals who work with councils can work with NSW Circular to obtain a specific report for their local government area. 

NSW Circular Chief Circular Economist Dr Kar Mei Tang said: “Measuring our progress towards a circular economy begins with knowing how we are tracking, both historically as well as against our peers.” 

“We hope these metrics will be important tools for councils, government agencies, researchers and companies working to reduce waste and carbon emissions”, said Dr Tang. 

Globally renowned Professor Shizhang Qiao crowned SA Scientist of the Year

Image: Professor Shizhang Qiao from the University of Adelaide. Photographer Randy Larcombe

The prestigious title of 2021 SA Scientist of the Year was awarded to Professor Shizhang Qiao from the University of Adelaide for his transformative work in materials science for energy conversion and storage technologies.

Professor Qiao has earned a strong global reputation, with highly cited work across multiple disciplines (materials engineering, physical chemistry, electrochemistry and quantum chemistry) set to advance the world’s sustainable energy capabilities. 

The news was announced alongside other category winners of the 2021 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards, held at Tonsley Innovation District on Friday 26 November.

Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni used the occasion to commend the incredible efforts of all SA Science Excellence and Innovation Award finalists and winners. 

“Everyone recognised in the SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards program has an incredible body of work behind them,” Minister Pisoni said.  

“This cohort of top scientists, innovators and STEM educators deserves to be publicly acknowledged and celebrated for their contributions to the South Australian economy, community, and—in many cases—the world. 

“A special congratulations to Scientist of the Year Professor Shizhang Qiao and Novatech Innovator of the Year Associate Professor Justin Chalker for taking out the night’s top honours. 

“While the work of these two STEM professionals is very different, they share a passion for research that has the potential to make existing industries cleaner, smarter, and more sustainable.”

Chief Scientist for South Australia Professor Caroline McMillen said the awards showcase achievements of scientists and innovators across the entire research and innovation value chain.

“The work of our finalists and award winners is driving the future of our industry sectors, shaping the future of our health care, ensuring the future of our environment and building our next generation of future scientists and innovators,” Professor McMillen said. 

Winners in each category of the 2021 SA Science Excellence and Innovation Awards are listed below: 

  • Scientist of the Year: Professor Shizhang Qiao
  • Innovator of the Year (Sponsored by Novatech): Associate Professor Justin Chalker
  • STEMM Educator of the Year – Primary or Secondary School (Sponsored by Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia): Mr Graham Wegner
  • STEMM Educator of the Year – University or RTO (Sponsored by Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra): and the Professor Giselle Rampersad
  • Excellence in Science and Industry Collaboration: Australian Institute for Machine Learning Industry Solutions
  • PhD Research Excellence Award: Dr Alicia Byrne

To learn more about the vital work each winner is conducting, visit  www.scienceawards.sa.gov.au/2021-winners.

Bionic Vision Technologies keeps its eye on the prize

Image: Shutterstock

First, they restored hearing for the deaf. Now, they’re creating functional vision for the blind. 

The people who helped develop the world’s Cochlear implant are now leading the global race to produce the first bionic eye. 

Australian company Bionic Vision Technologies (BVT) expects to begin an international trial in 2023, hoping for approvals to commercialise its product.

Trials of BVT’s first- and second-generation bionic eye systems in 2012 and 2016 delivered positive results with life-changing improvements. 

Participants with near-total blindness, who suffered from inherited retinal diseases, were able to recognise the faces of loved ones in a cafe, recognise traffic signals and signs, and identify boats on the water.

“To lose your sight after suffering from an inherited retinal disease is absolutely devastating,” CEO of BVT, Dr Ash Attia, said. “So, for me, it’s a miracle to be able to give functional vision back.”

Image: Ash Attia CEO of Bionic Vision Technologies (provided)

BVT’s Bionic Eye System consists of a pair of high-tech glasses and a surgical implant. Cameras inside the frame of the glasses translate images into electrical signals, which travel through electrodes implanted behind the retina. This delivers visual information to the person’s brain. 

In September this year, US company Cirtec Medical took a strategic stake in BVT to help create the Gen 3 Bionic Eye. Now, BVT is seeking to raise US $30 Million in equity funding to manufacture clinical units and conduct clinical trials in Australia, China, the US and the EU.

“With the extra funding, we can finally conduct the third and final trial, and gain regulatory approval from health authorities,” Dr Attia said. “Then, people who desperately need it will be able to get access to the Bionic Eye.”

Dr Attia was part of the company which brought the implantable defibrillator to the world. His life’s work is bringing much-needed medical technology to those who need it the most.

Globally, inherited retinal disease impacts around 3.9 million people. The Bionic Eye market for people affected specifically by retinitis pigmentosa is around $3.4 billion.

After 12 years in development, BVT hopes to have its Gen 3 Bionic Eye system available for sale in 2025.

For more information: https://bionicvis.com

Nuclear technology underpinning the space race

The space industry is booming, and ANSTO’s cutting-edge nuclear technology used for materials in extreme environments, radiation detection, and advance manufacturing supports space and aerospace research. Find out about ANSTO’s moonshot deep tech initiatives and how ANSTO is working with industry to reach, explore and gain knowledge in space.

Register for the next ANSTO x Science Meets Business Innovation Series to hear how nuclear technology is helping space and aerospace organisations gain a competitive advantage and delivery benefits for all Australians. Wednesday 3 March 2022 at 12noon (AEDT).

This webinar is FREE to attend and registration is essential. Secure your spot by clicking the button above.

The ANSTO Innovation Series

The ANSTO Innovation Series is a new virtual meet-up that focuses on the key capacities of ANSTO’s people, partners and facilities and how they are meeting global challenges in sustainable industries, medicine, advanced manufacturing and in accelerating small business.

Delivered as a quarterly webinar, the ANSTO Innovation Series features an expert panel exploring the latest science, industry and start-up opportunities, including innovations in energy storage, nuclear medicine and health, engineering new materials and accelerating deep tech business.

The ANSTO Innovation Series is produced in partnership with STEM-specialist publishers, Refraction Media, publishers of Science Meets Business, and hosted by leading science journalist, Lee Constable.

About ANSTO

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is the home of Australia’s most significant national infrastructure for research. Thousands of scientists from industry and academia benefit from gaining access to state-of-the-art instruments every year.

ANSTO researchers work on global science and technology challenges, and operate landmark research infrastructure including one of the world’s most modern nuclear research reactors, OPAL; as well as a comprehensive suite of neutron beam instruments at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering; the Australian Synchrotron; the National Imaging Facility Research Cyclotron; and the Centre for Accelerator Science. ANSTO also hosts the nandin innovation centre, one of Australia’s few deep technology hubs facilitating industry engagement and research translation.

Subscribe to our regular innovation and research news updates to get notification of the webinars.

Research and Education Leaders to head Women in STEMM Australia

Image: New Women in STEMM Australia co-chairs, Professor Madhu Bhaskaran and Sarah Chapman will uphold the mission of the organisation which is to connect all women, girls and champions of change in STEMM. Image supplied.

Women in STEMM Australia appoints two exceptional leaders, Professor Madhu Bhaskaran and Sarah Chapman, to replace outgoing co-chair and co-founder, Michelle Gallaher, who has now completed her term.

Professor Bhaskaran is a globally recognised engineer and applied research leader, co-leading the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group at RMIT University. Ms Chapman is a science educator and Head of Science at Townsville State High School. They will serve in leadership alongside the current co-chair, Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea AM, who will complete her term next June.

Together, the new leadership team wants to create a broader, more inclusive network for a diverse range of underrepresented students and professionals in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health and medicine across all professional sectors.

Women in STEMM Australia was founded in 2014 and uses its large digital footprint to share wide-ranging information relevant to women and underrepresented groups in STEMM, amplify STEMM associations and social enterprises whose values and goals are aligned, and shine a light on the gaps in sector, including in policy and best practice.

Professor Bhaskaran and Ms Chapman are both long-standing, highly committed advocates of diversity, inclusion and allyship in STEMM and have each served for years on the Women in STEMM Australia board.

Bhaskaran has received numerous awards for her innovative research, industry collaborations and leadership, such as the Batterham Medal from the Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering, the Frederick White Prize from the Australian Academy of Science, and the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.

Chapman is a dynamic STEM educator who has received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Secondary Science Teaching for science teaching excellence and the Barbara Cail Fellowship from Chief Executive Women Australia. She also established the Townsville STEM Hub for North Queensland which brings the community together, and she is a STEM Ambassador with Science & Technology Australia.

Professor Bhaskaran said, “It is an honour to take on this role alongside Sarah and I am excited to see how we can bring our multi-sector experience to this organisation’s leadership. Diversity and inclusion conversations and measures have come a long way since Women in STEMM Australia was first established and I am very proud to have this opportunity to take the organisation forward with a clear lens of intersectionality.”

Sarah Chapman said “I am humbled to continue on the Women in STEMM Australia legacy founded by two very inspirational women, Marguerite and Michelle. This organisation will continue to connect women across the nation and provide a platform of influence, allyship and advocacy. I am moved to have the opportunity to co-lead with Madhu and bring more depth of focus on underrepresented groups within the STEMM ecosystem.”

Ms Chapman said that she was passionate about continuing to build the connections and opportunities for collaboration moving forward. “In the current trials thrust upon us by this pandemic, addressing gaps within the STEMM ecosystem will require the efforts of us all. It is crucial to come together, to amplify the diverse voices around us and embed them into the fabric of each STEMM sector.”

Professor Bhaskaran and Ms Chapman join the new leadership team at a time when Australia’s STEMM ecosystem is experiencing unique, unprecedented challenges in research, education and business.

Dr Evans-Galea said that many organisations, students and professionals have faced a range of different challenges including high-pressure situations to keep business afloat and staff employed, isolation from friends and family, as well as their campuses and workplaces, with many experiencing significant job insecurity or unemployment.

“Rising stars and STEMM leaders in industry, academia, education and business are all finding it hard for different reasons. Students and professionals who are carers have been hardest hit, especially with school and childcare closures, and the health system under pressure”, she said.

“Women in most sectors are completely burnt out and in need of greater support from governments, organisations and leaders, as well as their peers”, she said.

Michelle Gallaher, cofounder, Women in STEMM Australia completes her high impact term as co-chair and public officer [Image: WiSA; Bizzarri Photography]

Outgoing co-chair Michelle Gallaher cofounded Women in STEMM Australia and has served as a volunteer director and co-chair since 2014. She has been applauded and commended by cofounder Evans-Galea and the board for her exceptional leadership and impact. Gallaher is proud of the legacy she has co-created.

“I am delighted to reflect and celebrate the achievements of our diverse community at this important moment, and to pass the baton to the next generation of leaders. The act of passing the leadership on, recognises and models the importance of relinquishing a seat to make way for new voices and ideas,” said Gallaher. “An action that we need to see more of in the STEMM community.”

“Alongside my friend and collaborator Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea, I’m very fortunate and proud to have played my part in creating a catalyst for change, for amplifying the value and voices of Australian STEMM women, for sharing bold ideas and uncomfortable truths, and for an opportunity to learn and unlearn, creating a path for women and allies who come with us and after us”, Ms Gallaher said.

“Women in STEMM Australia is in very good hands, and thankfully so, as there is still much work to be done to close the gap.”

Background

Professor Madhu Bhaskaran co-leads the Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group at RMIT University. Her work on electronic skin and wearable sensors has been patented and her group now works collaboratively with multiple industry and design partners to commercialise the technology for healthcare and aged care. She has won several awards and fellowships for her research including competitive Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2014) and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship (2016-2018). She has also won a Victoria Fellowship and has been named as one of Top 10 Innovators under 35 for Asia (MIT Technology Review 2016).

A staunch advocate for women in science, Professor Bhaskaran is co-founder of the Women Researchers’ Network at RMIT University and has served on the Executive then Board of Directors with Women in STEMM Australia since 2015.

Sarah Chapman is Head of Department at the Department of Education and Training at Townsville State High School (Queensland). She graduated from the James Cook University (JCU) with a Bachelor of Science (Honours Class 1) in 1999 and a Bachelor of Education in 2004. Sarah has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the Australian School Innovation in Science, Technology and Mathematics project which aims to develop specific skills and an interest in science in middle school students. This project has promoted teacher confidence in teaching science and improved school links with the community and JCU, and has facilitated an easier transition for students from primary to secondary school.

Sarah was a Teacher Finalist in the 2013 BHP Billiton Science & Engineering Awards and her work has been recognised with an Australian Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009, and the prestigious 2013 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. Sarah wants to see greater diversity in science and is keen to encourage all of her students, girls and boys, to participate.

About Women in STEMM Australia

Women in STEMM Australia is a non-profit organisation founded in 2014 which has grown into a nationally and internationally recognised association for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

Our core purpose is to advocate for gender equity and equality in Australia’s STEMM sectors, and support initiatives that drive change in the workplace and learning space, engage on gender equity in STEMM, whilst upholding core values such as respect and scientific excellence. Our role is to ensure women in STEMM with the capacity and capability to contribute to the innovation agenda are equally included, recognized and rewarded for their experience and expertise. Our activities welcome and aim to benefit all women in STEMM regardless of their discipline and profession.

Our philosophy is “Pay It Forward” and we uphold the core values of scientific excellence and respect for all. Women in STEMM Australia has created a diverse, inclusive network of STEMM professionals at all levels of academia, industry, education, business and government, and includes all women in STEMM regardless of their discipline and profession.

Defence innovator takes out Advanced Technologies prize

Image: The DroneShield in use by the military. Image: supplied by DroneShield.

Emerging NSW defence and security contractor DroneShield has beaten some of the nation’s leading companies to be crowned the winner of the Advanced Technologies Award at the 59th Australian Export Awards.

This year, the NSW firm has established itself as a global market leader in counter drone protection – while also expanding into radar, sensor fusion and artificial intelligence.

By harnessing these technologies, the firm is creating advanced defence systems which can identify drones by their make and model, determine if they are armed, and knock them out of the sky if necessary to protect airports, civilian population centres and military facilities.

Despite being founded in 2014, DroneShield already has customers in more than 120 countries, including the Australian Army and the US Department of Homeland Security.

Minister Tehan said that he was in awe of all winners this year, who he believed should all be commended for their ability to adapt and excel during a once-in-a-century global pandemic.

“Every business tonight is an exemplar of the Australian spirit, our dedication and ingenuity. Australians never shy away from adversity and their willingness to carry on is an inspiration to us all,” Mr Tehan said.

“Together, these businesses have contributed more than $6.2 billion in export earnings to the Australian economy and employ more than 17,700 people.”

DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik said the company was thrilled to be recognised as Australia’s top Advanced Technology exporter.

“We’d like to take this chance to thank the Federal and NSW governments for their continued support which has allowed us to rapidly expand our operations around the globe.”

Mr Vornik says the key to the company’s success is their commitment to public safety and working closely with defence and government partners.

“We’re thrilled to be a growing STEM employer who has some of the nation’s brightest minds on our team working together to keep the public safe.” 

The annual Australian Export Awards are presented by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), in collaboration with the states and territories.

The best in humans and machines combine to reimagine intelligence

Image: A human operator is providing mission goals and supervision to a team of robots during a Darpa subterranean challenge deployment inside a natural cave system. Image: Katrina Lo Surdo.

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, will be part of reinventing the way humans and Artificial Intelligence work together, contributing to global efforts to design a completely new capability called ‘Collaborative Intelligence’.

The newly launched $12 million Collaborative Intelligence (CINTEL) Future Science Platform aims to move beyond machines replacing people or automating their jobs, and instead to create teams that maximise the benefits of both human and machine intelligence. 

One of CINTEL’s first projects will draw on the expertise of CSIRO’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Group who recently claimed a silver medal in the international DARPA Subterranean Challenge. The challenge, which has been described as the ‘robot Olympics’, involved using teams of robots to explore and locate objects in unmapped underground environments under the supervision of a human operator.  

Above: Dr Cecil Paris is CSIRO’s collaborative Intelligence Leader


CINTEL Leader Dr Cécile Paris said lessons from the challenge could help inform future human/robot teaming. 

“The project will focus on developing a richer, dynamic human-robot collaboration, enabling humans and robots to respond in real time to changes in the environment and make better decisions, together,” Dr Paris said.  

“CINTEL will research dynamic situation awareness and mechanisms to ensure a collaborative dialogue between humans and robots throughout, for example, a rescue mission.  

“Rescue missions are often ill defined and dynamic, and the humans must use their own knowledge and skills, like reasoning, intuition, adaptation and experience, to identify what the robots should be doing. CINTEL will investigate how humans can fully utilise their unique skillset in collaboration with the robots for successful outcomes.” 

Other early CINTEL projects include developing a digital team member to help scientists make sense of the massive amount of information in modern biological collections and supporting cybersecurity analysts with collaborative surveillance. 

The program will be run by CSIRO in collaboration with research and impact partner Saber Astronautics, as well as Emesent, the Queensland AI Hub, TAFE Queensland, Aged Care Industry Technology Council, Global Community Resourcing, the Department of Defence, the Queensland University of Technology, and researchers from Monash University and the University of Sydney.  


Dr Paris said CINTEL program’s goal is to leverage the fundamental differences between human and machine intelligence to ensure the best outcomes. 

“We’re used to hearing about machines competing with humans in games like chess.  

“But what isn’t as well known is that humans collaborating with AI have proven superior to both the best AI systems and human chess players. 

“Human intelligence is creative and adaptable, while machine intelligence is more specific and able to handle vast amounts of data,” Dr Paris said. 

“For many problems, particularly those that involve complex, changeable and difficult-to-define contexts, we are likely to get better results if we design AI systems explicitly to work with human partners, rather than attempting to do the job themselves.  

“This requires a new way of thinking, both about how we design AI systems and how workers across different occupations and industries should work with them,” Dr Paris said. 

Collaborative intelligence moves beyond the idea of machines replacing people or even just ‘keeping people in the loop’, aiming instead to unlock completely new capability by creating teams that maximise the benefits of both types of intelligence. 

“This is the next scientific frontier of digital transformation,” Dr Paris said.  

CINTEL will run for four years and will bring together behavioural and social scientists with computer, robotics and domain experts to develop the general-purpose technology needed to facilitate collaborative human/machine teams.  

The program is part of CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms portfolio, aimed at dedicating research to new and emerging opportunities for Australia.

First published by CSIRO

Strategies for increasing representation of girls in STEM & IT

A new report from Monash University has identified best practices and strategies to overcome barriers that prevent young girls and women from pursuing STEM and IT education. 

The new report, which was led by Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology (IT), identified best practices for recruitment and retention of young girls and women in STEM and IT education such as reaching out to girls early in schools, recruiting strategically into undergraduate degrees and facilitating positive and inclusive experiences during their education.

Data from UNESCO in 2017 shows that out of the total enrolments of global STEM-related higher education only 35 per cent were women and the numbers are lower in Australia, with enrolment rates of women below 20 per cent of total enrolments in 2019. 

The report looked at US-based and Australian studies that showed persistence of gendered stereotypes, influence of parents, educators and peers, and a lack of exposure to female role models in STEM and IT fields were some of the main factors preventing young girls from pursuing STEM education in schools and universities. 

Study author, Associate Dean (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Associate Professor Yolande Strengers, said identifying critical factors that present barriers to women can help to provide valuable insights into how institutions can nurture a more welcoming environment to improve the representation of women in STEM and IT fields. 

“Our report identifies US-based, Australian and other programs around the world that have achieved results through promoting computer sciences to young girls early in schools, introducing women role models and adjusting admission policies to adapt and target recruitment of more women,” Associate Professor Strengers said.

“Programs like ‘Girls on the Go’ from Miami University, the Digital Divas Club in Victoria or the Women in Technology Mentoring program at Monash University are a step in the right direction and we need a lot more initiatives like them to turn the tide.” 

Faculty of IT Interim Dean Professor Ann Nicholson, said the best practices identified through this research will help to guide the expansion of existing initiatives designed to encourage young girls and women through outreach, targeted degrees and cultivation of positive student experiences. 

“As highlighted by the research, there is an urgent need to increase the number of women entering STEM and IT fields,” Professor Nicholson said.

“We cannot look at this unilaterally as being a women’s issue that needs to be worked on only by women. We need to adopt a holistic approach in creating inclusive mindsets, interactions and institutions that move towards a more balanced future.” 

Inspired by the strategies identified in the report, Superbots Industry Immersion, a pilot program to engage young girls in computing, was launched on 22 November by the Monash Tech School in partnership with the Faculty of IT and the Women in Voice ANZ chapter. 

With the goal to provide positive exposure to computing and technology during a crucial decision-making period, during the program Year 9 girls created their own voicebot personalities and received feedback from women within the industry to help explore the history, ethics, and societal influences on voice-assisted software development.

The report and Superbots Industry Immersion program are initiatives of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee formed by the Faculty of IT. 

Going forward, the EDI Committee aims to undertake research and develop further initiatives on supporting the participation of other underrepresented and/or disadvantaged groups in IT and STEM fields, such as people living with disabilities, those from low socio-economic backgrounds and the LGBTQIA+ community. 

To view the full report, please visit https://www.monash.edu/it/edi/insights

Can spare EV battery capacity support the grid?

Image: Shutterstock

The University of Queensland (UQ) has launched a world-first international trial to see if the spare battery capacity in electric vehicles (EV) could be used to support the uptake of renewable energy, support the grid, and even potentially power homes in the future.

In a project co-funded by the iMOVE Cooperative Research and an Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship, UQ has partnered with analytics platform Teslascope to recruit Tesla owners internationally to take part in the study which will closely look at driving and charging behaviour across the globe.

Dr Jake Whitehead, E-Mobility Research Fellow at UQ, said while EVs are increasingly coming to market with more than 400km driving range, most are only driven less than 50km a day.

“This provides a unique opportunity to leverage this spare energy capacity to absorb renewable energy generated in the middle of the day and overnight, and potentially even export energy to power homes and support the grid in the future using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers,” Dr Whitehead said.

Dr Whitehead said with increasing numbers of electric vehicles globally, many questions are being asked around how this EV technology cannot only deliver the necessary emissions reductions in transport to reach net zero emissions by 2050, but also how they can provide other energy services.

“We have a unique opportunity through this project to better understand EV driving and charging behaviour in different markets, and what are the opportunities to use EVs to provide energy services and generate extra income for owners in the future,” he said.

iMOVE managing director Ian Christensen said transport accounted for about 24% of direct carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion globally, with demand for transport expected to grow significantly in the coming decades.

“Electrification of transport has been identified as one of the major pathways for reducing emissions – and by leveraging EV battery spare capacity and using smart charging technology, excess solar could be absorbed by vehicles parked during the day, and potentially discharged to support the grid during the evening using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) infrastructure,” Mr Christensen said.

“For smart charging infrastructure to deliver these benefits, EV uptake must be significantly increased, and importantly, EV owners must be willing to use their vehicles as ‘batteries-on-wheels’,” he said.

Dr Whitehead said the study aims to initially recruit 500 Tesla owners.

He said the study would use Teslascope’s platform to collect vehicle usage data without any hardware, but by directly pulling data – with owner’s permission – through the vehicle’s API. In exchange for agreeing to participate in study, users will be provided with a free 12-month premium subscription to Teslascope.

Tesla owners can express interest in participating in the trial here: https://teslascope.com/research

For the initial phase of the study, Tesla owners in Australia, the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Germany and the UK are eligible to apply. As more manufacturers integrate API access into their vehicles, the intention is to expand the program to include other vehicle brands.

All user data will be kept secure and confidential.

“With the support and trust of users we will be able to leverage these learnings to influence government policy – including the rollout of public charging infrastructure. We also aim to use the findings of this research address some of the common misconceptions about how EV owners use their vehicles, and highlight how this technology provides far greater benefits, than risks, to the energy sector,” Dr Whitehead said.

Australia and United States partner to build quantum

Image: Shutterstock

Australia and the United States have signed a landmark statement of intent to cooperate and share in the enormous opportunities and benefits that world-leading quantum science and technology advancements present.

The Joint Statement of the United States of America and Australia on Cooperation in Quantum Science and Technology strengthens Australia and the United States’ ability to exchange quantum knowledge and skills.

The statement creates more opportunities to promote research and development, and encourages greater market access for quantum businesses in both nations.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said signing the joint statement recognises the role quantum will have in helping solve global challenges.

“As a critical technology that will shape our world for years to come, quantum technology offers incredible opportunities for Australia and the United States,” Minister Price said.

“This joint statement with the United States builds on our already strong strategic partnership when it comes to science and technology and will help us build a quantum future together.

“Quantum technologies will help us overcome significant challenges that current computers struggle to solve, will help make our day-to-day lives safer and more convenient, and create more secure communications technologies.

“This is an important step forward for advancing quantum technologies in both Australia and the US, and will create more opportunities for Australian business and researchers to leverage the opportunities this technology will create.”

The President’s Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dr. Eric Lander signed the joint statement in Washington.

“I am delighted to affirm the United States and Australia’s commitment to work together to develop a healthy international marketplace for quantum technologies and grow the workforce for this emerging area,” Dr Lander said.

“Jointly exploring new frontiers in quantum information science will accelerate discoveries and enable revolutionary approaches to computing, sensing, and networking that will benefit all of society.”

Diagnosing jaundice instantly with a digital camera

Image: Shutterstock

Imagine a system that can detect within one second whether a newborn baby has jaundice, a condition affecting 60 per cent of infants, and in severe cases leading to brain damage and hearing loss.

Visualise that system kickstarting a treatment regime immediately and notifying a nurse by text message.

Thanks to researchers from Iraq and Adelaide, all three scenarios are now possible.

Engineers from the University of South Australia and Middle Technical University have designed imaging software that can accurately diagnose jaundice in the blink of an eye, automatically turn on a blue LED light to counteract it and send the diagnosis in an SMS to the carer.

Jaundice is a common condition in newborns, especially premature babies, where there is an overload of an orange-yellow pigment called bilirubin in the bloodstream. It normally resolves quickly when the baby’s liver is mature enough to remove it from the body.

However, in severe cases of jaundice, caused by sickle cell anaemia, blood disorders and lack of certain enzymes, phototherapy is normally used to treat the condition, using fluorescent blue light to break down the bilirubin in the baby’s skin.

UniSA remote sensing engineer Professor Javaan Chahl says jaundice is particularly prevalent in developing countries where there often isn’t the equipment or trained medical staff to effectively treat it.

“Using image processing techniques extracted from data captured by the camera, we can cheaply and accurately screen newborns for jaundice in a non-invasive way, before taking a blood test,” Prof Chahl says.

“When the bilirubin levels reach a certain threshold, a microcontroller triggers blue LED phototherapy and sends details to a mobile phone.

“This can be done in one second, literally, which can make all the difference in severe cases, where brain damage and hearing loss can result if treatment is not administered quickly.”

Researchers tested the system in an intensive care unit in Mosul, Iraq, on 20 newborns diagnosed with jaundice. A second data set captured 16 images of newborns, five of whom were healthy, and the remainder jaundiced. The system was also successfully tested on four other manikins with white and brown skin colours, with and without jaundice pigmentation.

“Previous research using sensors to find a non-invasive way to detect jaundice has fallen short. Methods trialled have been unreliable, costly, inefficient and in some cases caused infections and allergies where sensors needed skin contact,” Prof Chahl says.

“Our system overcomes these obstacles by immediately detecting jaundice based on a novel digital representation of colour which allows high diagnostic accuracy at a relatively low cost. It could be widely used in hospitals worldwide and medical centres where laboratory facilities and trained medical staff are not available.”

The study has been published in engineering journal Designs.

Nominations open for Prime Minister’s Science Prizes

Image: Shutterstock

Peers and colleagues of Australia’s outstanding scientists, research-based innovators and science teachers are urged to nominate them for the 2022 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Nominations are now open in the seven categories of Australia’s most prestigious science prizes, which award up to a total of $750,000 in prize money.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said those involved in science and innovation and teachers of science, technology and mathematics can put forward the names of those they wanted to see recognised for their contributions.

“I strongly encourage people to nominate those they know are doing great work in scientific research, research-based innovation, and in science teaching,” Minister Price said.  

“Science, technology and innovation are at the heart of so many of the key opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for Australia. 

“We are working hard to increase the diversity of nominations that are received for the prizes each year – but we need everyone’s help to make this happen. 

“If you know someone who should be recognised, we want to hear from you.

“In 2022 we want to uncover the unsung heroes from all across Australia – people whose work is delivering innovative solutions and creating better ways of working, living and educating in our community.”

The 2022 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are: 

  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Science  
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation  
  • Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year  
  • Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year  
  • Prize for New Innovators  
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools  
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools  

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science is part of the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Program.

Nominations close on 10 February 2022 at 5pm AEDT and can be made at https://business.gov.au/grants-and-programs/prime-ministers-prizes-for-science or https://business.gov.au/grants-and-programs/prime-ministers-prizes-for-science-science-teaching-prizes

Nuclear medicine delivering improvements in diagnosis and treatment of cancer

Register for the next ANSTO x Science Meets Business Innovation Series to explore how nuclear medicine is delivering improvements in human health and the treatment and diagnosis of cancer, Wednesday 8 December 2021.

Although many people might know that ANSTO produces nuclear medicines, including the most commonly used diagnostic imaging agent, they may not be aware of the other research and development activities in nuclear medicine that benefit human health.

World-leading nuclear science, combined with expertise of ANSTO staff and collaborators in academia and industry, are at the cutting-edge of investigations into the origin of diseases, like cancer. State-of-the-art nuclear research is finding improved methods to detect, diagnose and monitor the progression of disease and develop therapies to treat disease.

At this free online event you’ll meet experts who are at the forefront of nuclear medicine and research and who are working to save lives.

Meet the Expert Panel

Science broadcaster Lee Constable will host a discussion with:

Rosanne Robinson: Rosanne Robinson is CEO, Detection & Imaging and General Manager, Business Development & Commercialisation at ANSTO. Rosanne is an innovation and research commercialisation professional with broad experience cultivating the interface of science and industry. She has extensive experience in the commercialisation of cutting-edge technology across a range of fields, developing engagement strategies and international commercial partnerships that deliver value to collaborators and customers.

Benjamin Fraser: Ben is a Radiotracer Methods and Organic Chemistry Task Leader, Health Research at ANSTO. He has over 15 years of experience in organic chemistry and radiochemistry and leads the organic chemistry capability and the radiotracer methods research theme in ANSTO LifeSciences.

Ben’s role includes management of the synthetic chemistry laboratories, development of new radiolabeling methods, directing staff on chemical synthesis projects and managing the supply of radiolabelling precursors and standards for the ANSTO radiochemistry team. Ben holds adjunct research appointments at both The University of New South Wales and Monash University.

Professor Geoff Currie, AM: Geoff is a Professor in Nuclear Medicine, Charles Sturt University. Geoff has a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, a master’s degree in medical radiation science (nuclear medicine), a master’s degree in applied management (health), a master’s degree in business administration (MBA), and a doctor of philosophy (PhD).

Geoff has more than 180 peer-reviewed journal papers, author of two books, author of five book chapters, presented 175 conference presentations, 65 invited speaker presentations, and as a reviewer for 25 international journals. Geoff is an adjunct Professor in Radiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas. On Australia Day 2020, Geoff was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his contribution to nuclear medicine and medical radiation science.

Dr Matt Harris: Matt is the founder, former CEO (2010-2019) and currently Chief Scientific Officer at Clarity Pharmaceuticals. Matt has approximately 20 years of combined experience in cancer research, nuclear medicine and business and has a PhD in cancer research from the Australian National University. Matt brings expertise in biotechnology, radiopharmaceuticals, academic research and investment to Clarity and focuses on developing the technology behind Clarity’s products.

Innovation in Nuclear Medicines and Health: 12pm (AEDT) Wednesday 8 Dec 2021 / via Zoom.

This webinar is FREE to attend and registration is essential. Secure your spot by clicking the button above.

The ANSTO Innovation Series

The ANSTO Innovation Series is a new virtual meet-up that focuses on the key capacities of ANSTO’s people, partners and facilities and how they are meeting global challenges in sustainable industries, medicine, advanced manufacturing and in accelerating small business.

Delivered as a quarterly webinar, the ANSTO Innovation Series features an expert panel exploring the latest science, industry and start-up opportunities, including innovations in energy storage, nuclear medicine and health, engineering new materials and accelerating deep tech business.

The ANSTO Innovation Series is produced in partnership with STEM-specialist publishers, Refraction Media, publishers of Science Meets Business, and hosted by leading science journalist, Lee Constable.

About ANSTO

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is the home of Australia’s most significant national infrastructure for research. Thousands of scientists from industry and academia benefit from gaining access to state-of-the-art instruments every year.

ANSTO researchers work on global science and technology challenges, and operate landmark research infrastructure including one of the world’s most modern nuclear research reactors, OPAL; as well as a comprehensive suite of neutron beam instruments at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering; the Australian Synchrotron; the National Imaging Facility Research Cyclotron; and the Centre for Accelerator Science. ANSTO also hosts the nandin innovation centre, one of Australia’s few deep technology hubs facilitating industry engagement and research translation.

Subscribe to our regular innovation and research news updates to get notification of the webinars.

Joint Venture to make GMP theranostic radiopharmaceuticals

Image: ANSTO

Cyclotek and ANSTO have announced the launch of a Joint Venture (JV), to establish Australia’s first GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) theranostics facility starting in Melbourne, Australia.

The two leading nuclear medicine enterprises have come together to develop, manufacture and supply the next generation of therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals for cancer treatments.

The new company Applied Molecular Therapies Pty Ltd (AMT) will aim to establish a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved, GMP manufacturing capability for a range of radiopharmaceutical therapies, initially focused on use of the radionuclide Lutetium-177.

The announcement was made at the National Theranostics Roundtable 2021 – The Future of Precision Oncology in Nuclear Medicine.

Commenting on the JV, the CEO of Cyclotek, Greg Santamaria, said “This new organisation will lead, for Australia, development of a local research and manufacturing base to secure supply of targeted radiopharmaceuticals, with our stated aim of improving cancer patient outcomes with accessible, targeted radiopharmaceuticals.

“This is an exciting development for cancer treatment, enabling the capabilities of both organisations to support TGA/GMP compliant manufacturing of targeted radiopharmaceuticals for the Australian and New Zealand markets.”

Nuclear medicines have been helping cancer patients since the 1940s. The last decade has seen the emergence of new and promising radionuclides primarily for therapeutic applications. Leading the market globally is the use of n.c.a. Lutetium-177 combined with various targeting molecules across a broad range of cancer indications.

Lutetium Chloride Radiochemical Solution nca

Image: ANSTO

ANSTO has been manufacturing GMP n.c.a. Lutetium-177 radioisotope from their TGA licensed production facility since 2015. Until now, the same level of GMP licensed facilities for the radiopharmaceutical manufacturing has been absent in the Australian market. Globally n.c.a. Lutetium-177 is the preferred radionuclide for clinical development due to its high level of radionuclidic purity and the absence of the metastable Lutetium-177m (160 day half-life) thereby circumventing the cost of clinical disposal management.

“Our aim is for the Lutetium-based radiopharmaceuticals to be fully compliant with Australia’s regulatory frameworks for clinical trials and Special Access Scheme for compassionate use. Patients and clinicians can rest assured that our products will meet all the safety and quality standards expected of a radionuclide therapy,” Mr Santamaria said.

AMT aims to be a radiopharmaceutical Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO) for theranostic radiopharmaceuticals in Australia and New Zealand. Cyclotek executives and senior management will lead and support the business, leveraging their many years of CDMO experience with diagnostic radiopharmaceuticals; with ANSTO providing access to its licensed n.c.a. Lutetium-177 and expertise in research, product development and quality testing. 

ANSTO’s CEO, Shaun Jenkinson, said, “Globally, there is a growing clinical interest in new therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals and AMT will position Australia to participate in this emerging market and to attract global pharmaceutical companies to conduct more clinical trials here.”

“This joint venture will help expand the existing nuclear medicines available to Australia and beyond.”

Tech entrepreneurs and sport scientists unite to drive innovation

Image: Shutterstock

Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) and Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), effective from November 2021.

The ASTN-ESSA MOU outlines a collaboration to jointly promote and support industry engagement – helping ‘connect the dots’ by linking startups to the wider sporting community, and facilitating innovation, opportunities, and growth.

As the peak body representing qualified Australian exercise and sports science professionals, academics and researchers, ESSA supports its members, accredited professionals and the community to improve the health and performance of all Australians.

ASTN – the governing body for sports technology and innovation – supports local sportstech entrepreneurs with an opportunity to bring their innovative technology-based product ideas for application in sport to market.

Beyond the joint promotion of events, ASTN and ESSA will drive collaboration between sportstech startups and ESSA’s large member base which includes practitioners like Accredited Exercise Physiologists, Accredited Exercise Scientists, Accredited Sports Scientists and Accredited High Performance Managers.

“This partnership will enable sportstech entrepreneurs to connect with ESSA’s practitioners to get real world feedback – which is critical when validating new technologies as part of the commercialisation process,” said Dr. Martin Schlegel, Director and Board Member, ASTN.

“ESSA’s large member base knowledge is invaluable to our early-stage startups, entrepreneurs, founders, and researchers – it will help facilitate local sportstech startup success and build the future of sport for everyone,” added Schlegel.

“As global leaders in world-class sports technology and innovation, ASTN is a natural fit in helping us provide our members with exposure to the latest technology and cutting-edge ideas. Through this partnership we look forward to driving further innovation and capabilities in the sport sector,” said Ms. Anita Hobson-Powell, CEO of ESSA.

ASTN already has an existing partnership with the Queensland Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport’s (DTIS) through its flagship program ActiveKIT – which supports innovative solutions within the Active Industry to increase physical activity participation of Queenslanders.

Australian hydrogen company recognised as world leader

Image: CRH renewable hydrogen project offering bus refuelling

Australian company Countrywide Renewable Hydrogen Limited (CRH) has been awarded “World’s Best Hydrogen Brand” at a global conference in Iceland.

CRH originates and progresses the development of hydrogen projects that use renewable energy resources to produce hydrogen for mobility, the decarbonisation of natural gas and displacing diesel for power generation.

On request, CRH lodged a submission to the Charge Energy Awards and was successful in its category.

CRH Managing Director Geoffrey Drucker said, “We are naturally proud of this achievement being a small Australian company operating in the huge global hydrogen market where there are many large companies investing heavily in hydrogen as the fuel of the future.

“This recognition, in the company of leading organisations like the International Energy Agency, not only made the award substantial, it provided CRH with a platform to participate in the Iceland conference. 

“The timing of the award could not be more opportune now that the Federal Coalition has freshly committed to net zero emissions by 2050. 

“Such a commitment cannot just be in words; action is required to meet such a commitment and the starting points will be the decarbonisation of road transport, natural gas and power generation. In all areas, hydrogen will play a key role.

“Beyond emissions reduction there are other positive outcomes to this commitment. They include investment in hydrogen production, refuelling, education and training to upskill diesel mechanics in maintaining fuel cell vehicles, R&D opportunities for universities, manufacturing and powering remote communities and islands.”

CRH is progressing three renewable hydrogen projects in Australia, one in Tasmania and two in Victoria.  The Tasmanian project will supply hydrogen produced using the state’s abundance of green hydro and wind power to transition road transport to emission-free fuel cell propulsion, blending hydrogen into the state’s natural gas network and replacing diesel for power generation.

The Victorian projects comprise the Melbourne Hydrogen Hub which will supply hydrogen to three bus companies to begin their transition to emission-free transport, and a domestic plus export project at Portland.

CommBank and CSIRO partner to develop climate change insights to boost finance sector resilience

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia launched a joint public-private sector initiative to investigate potential impacts of climate change to the finance sector. The partnership will develop a roadmap to help financial services companies to manage and reduce the associated risks. 

The project will bring together CSIRO’s deep climate science knowledge with CBA’s understanding of climate risks facing the finance industry to identify the critical factors that could shape future environmental and social policies on climate change.

CBA will provide funding for the research as well as anonymised data and information from across a broad range of industries that are being impacted or are likely to be increasingly affected by climate change, such as manufacturing, infrastructure, and agriculture. 

CSIRO will utilise the data to develop sectoral analysis and different scenarios. CBA will then overlay economic and financial insights to underscore the varying impacts on the Australian economy.

The insights from the project will be publicly available.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said adapting to a changing climate is a competitive advantage for Australia and will build a stronger economy, more jobs, and more resilient communities.

“CSIRO’s unique climate intelligence, supercharged by Australia’s largest data and AI network, and quantitative analytic capabilities can help financial institutions like Commonwealth Bank navigate an uncertain future,” Dr Marshall said.

“Australian businesses can lead our national response, especially when they have access to Australia’s world-class science and insights to guide meaningful, impactful investment in growth opportunities balanced by risk mitigation.

“It sounds impossible, the idea of science predicting the future, but solving the seemingly impossible is what science is for, and giving business the power to get ahead of climate will enable them to build a more resilient and sustainable nation that is globally competitive and prosperous.”

Matt Comyn, Commonwealth Bank CEO, said the partnership with CSIRO would significantly strengthen the efforts being made by financial institutions and their customers and communities to adapt to climate change.

“We believe our collaboration with CSIRO will better inform our approach on how to play a leadership role in supporting Australia’s transition to a more sustainable economy. 

“The best scientific insight, combined with our data and insights, means CSIRO and CBA are well placed working together to help businesses understand what risks they face, how they can adapt and, what opportunities are available to create jobs and investment in a lower carbon economy.”

The project will also capitalise on the significant work already undertaken by CBA to identify the impact of changing climate on the major sectors of the economy and how these risks might be mitigated. 

CSIRO researchers will be focused on filling identified information gaps for the finance sector, such as determining the economic impact of climate change over geographic regions. The independent science-based transition scenarios developed in this project will be used to estimate exposure to climate risks in sectors across the economy.

CSIRO scientist Dr David Newth said insights from the research will be valuable across the finance sector as aspects, such as data for internally consistent climate change scenarios, are likely to be made accessible in the future. 

“Through using models to develop tailored scenarios of how the climate and economy may unfold in Australia and across the world, we can assist businesses like the Commonwealth Bank to understand risks in its portfolio and support its customers and investors to prepare for a changing climate.

“CSIRO will use a coupled economy-wide modelling approach with a focus on agricultural productivity, land use change and other biophysical considerations to understand socio-economic and physical risks posed by climate change on the Australian economy.”

Products developed through this project will become available on a digital platform being developed by the Climate Resilient Enterprise initiative, established through CSIRO’s Mission Program. 

First published by CSIRO

New Australian imaging technology set to provide better insight into aircraft stress

The LTS-640V is a digital imaging machine little bigger than a DSLR camera that provides real time imagery that helps quantify material stress and detect fatigue cracks that could prove dangerous if unchecked.

The LTS-640V is designed to be used during the certification stage before an aircraft is approved for
commercial or military use. The capability it provides will allow for a potentially more streamlined
certification process, and should help eliminate some of the surprises that can occur during testing of
a new aircraft structure.

The technology was developed in collaboration with scientists at the Australian Department of Defence
where a prototype of this technology has helped support sustainment of the F/A-18 Classic Hornet, and
more recently provided Lockheed Martin Aeronautics with valuable new information during structural
certification testing of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The Australian invention is the first of its kind, providing real time fusion of stress and visible spectrum
imaging – in effect merging the visible with the invisible.

“This inspection approach is based on the ‘thermoelastic effect’; put simply, when you squash something
it heats up, when you stretch something it cools down,” said a spokesperson for the Department of
Defence.

“Think of magic spray which is often used to treat sports injuries – it’s the stretching or expansion of
the gas as it leaves the aerosol can that provides the cooling effect.

“Unlike magic spray however, the temperature changes we’re dealing with are tiny, thousandths of a
degree, but we can still detect them, and quite easily using the advanced algorithms at the core of this
technology,” they said.

This capability has a significant role to play in helping aircraft designers and operators better understand
how an airframe performs under load.

“The technology can improve our ability to quantify stresses, particularly in structurally critical areas
where traditional technologies have very limited capability,” the spokesperson said.

With $275,000 of grant funding, the design team at 1MILLIKELVIN have transformed this groundbreaking
capability into a robust commercial product.

“We are looking to help streamline and improve structural validation processes across the global defence
and aeronautics industries’, says Mr Kheang Khauv, Managing Director of 1 MILLIKELVIN, manufacturer
of the LTS-640V technology.

“This technology has been used to support the Classic Hornet and has demonstrated in the F-35 full
scale durability test program how it can improve the way designers validate modelling of complex
airframe components.

“We are proud our advanced technology is making a contribution to Defence capability,” he said.
Potential applications of the technology extend well beyond aviation, with potential customers including
a wide range of industries both in Australia and around the world.

Program to accelerate SME growth in space industry

Image: CSIRO researcher working in the CSIRO LAB22 3D-printing facility.

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has opened applications for a new program for small to medium businesses working in the space sector, drawing on its more than 75 years’ space experience to accelerate growth in Australia’s burgeoning space industry. 

Supported by the Australian Space Agency, CSIRO’s ‘Innovate to Grow: Space’ program will support 20-25 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) with mentoring from some of Australia’s leading space experts, including from CSIRO and the Space Agency, access to world-class research facilities and infrastructure, and support to navigate grant application processes.

Innovate to Grow is a free 10-week training program designed to boost the innovation and take-up of research and development (R&D) by Australian small businesses in industries with high innovation potential, like space, agrifood, plastic waste, net zero, and cybersecurity. 

CSIRO Space Research Program Director Dr Kimberley Clayfield said collaboration was key to growing Australia’s space industry. 

“CSIRO works with leading global companies, international space agencies and small-to-medium businesses on a variety of space-related activities,” Dr Clayfield said.

“SMEs have a lot to contribute and when combined with our strong capabilities in Earth observation, robotics, advanced manufacturing and communications, the sky is no limit to what we can achieve together.”

Amanda Falconer, Founder of Bestie Kitchen based in Newcastle, NSW, participated in the Agrifood round of Innovate to Grow.

“Innovate to Grow really made research accessible. Before the program, I thought there was no way that a tiny company like mine could work with CSIRO or a university. Now it has been demystified!” Ms Falconer said.

Following the program, Bestie Kitchen participated in CSIRO’s Kick-Start program, received Federal Government Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) commercialisation funding, and begun scaled manufacturing from her new factory.

Dr George Feast, CSIRO SME Collaboration Lead said the program built on rich foundations.

“Innovate to Grow: Space is another example of how we’re working to develop innovative technologies and capabilities and support the growth of the Australian space industry,” Dr Feast said.

“With so many incredible opportunities on offer here and globally, we’re committed to helping SMEs understand how to best engage with a R&D partner and understand how to get the most benefit for their needs.”

CSIRO has over 75 years of space-related experience and operates a range of facilities, research programs and industry development activities contributing to the Australian space sector. CSIRO is growing its space capabilities in a wide variety of areas with the aim of generating new innovations that will benefit our nation and help provide new opportunities for the space sector. 

The Australian Space Agency aims to support Australia to significantly grow its domestic sector from around 10,000 jobs and a market size of $3.9 billion to up to another 20,000 jobs and $12 billion by 2030, with further jobs and economy growth from spill over effects.

CSIRO Innovate to Grow is delivered using Practera’s online ed-tech platform and facilitation services.

Applications are open until 22 November. More: www.csiro.au/innovatetogrow

RMIT Electric racing team powered by RS Components

Image: The RMIT Electric Racing Team, sponsored by RS components.

The Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) competition sees 500 teams of uni students globally compete to design, build and compete in their own Formula-style open-wheeled race car.

Engineering resource and product supplier RS Components are proud sponsors of the RMIT Electric Racing Team.

The vehicles are judged on dynamics, design justifications costing strategies and business presentation and apply rigorous STEM concepts to the build and design process.

RS Components offers a large number of resources for students and educators in the STEM sector, including the latest innovative products & technologies, convenient purchasing options and learning tools to support your classes and curriculum.

“It is thanks to our sponsors like RS Components’ investment and support that we are able to advance the research and development of the team, develop cutting-edge vehicles, and produce high-quality graduates from year to year,” according to RMIT.

“Our partnership with RS demonstrates their active participation in the community and engagement with the next generation workforce allowing students to develop skills they may otherwise not learn at a university level.”

Christopher Carr, Business System Head for RMIT Electric Racing says, “Our project is dependent on the valuable investment by our sponsors who allow us to advance the research and development of the team, develop cutting-edge vehicles as part of the program.”

RMIT Electric Racing formed in 2008 and was the first ever electric vehicle built for the Formula SAE competition. Today, the team includes students across a dozen faculties who demonstrate innovative thinking, initiative and commitment to the real-life commercial project.

Formula SAE graduates are often headhunted for their unique combination of technical skills, strong communication abilities and project management skills.

This article was produced in partnership with RS Components.

Looking for engineering equipment for your lab or classroom? Here are 5 reasons to check out RS.

Image: Shutterstock

Engineers make our lives better and RS Components is committed to inspiring and supporting the future generation of engineers. 

At RS Components, you’ll find an enormous range of electrocomponents and STEM equipment for students and educators. Designed to maximize imagination while honing skills, these innovative products and technologies support students and the curriculum by providing cutting-edge, hands-on opportunities to creatively find solutions to challenging, real-world problems.

Here are just five reasons why you need to check out RS Components:

  1. Give your students the edge with the latest technology. With a huge range of development boards, from affordable microcontroller boards and entry-level development kits to more hands-on sensor and robotic technology, you’ll find some of the best and most exciting brands to bring you the latest innovative technology to your students.
  2. Enormous product range. Explore over 600,000 products from 2,500 suppliers and 60,000 products stocked locally.  Equip your lab with: 
    • 3D printers and materials
    • Safety goggles, gloves, lab coats
    • Batteries and hand tools
    • Soldering stations
    • Bench test and measuring equipment
    • Wires, cables and connectors
    • And much more!
  3. Tap into a deep knowledge reservoir. When you need specialist advice, the RS technical experts are part of your team. They’re there with extensive knowledge of products and specifications to help you make the best choice. RS offers easy access to product support resources online or by phone. You can speak to a live chat member on the website for help in finding products or other technical information. Or take a look at the technical data sheets which are available at product level. This can help save time, allowing you access to technical information 24/7.
  4. Free access to DesignSpark. RS offers FREE access to its DesignSpark suite of specialist software design tools and community. This now includes 3D mechanical design, Electrical design and PCB design. All the tools are free to download, activate and use. Sign up now at www.designspark.com
  5. Fast, flexible delivery options. From same-day to next-working-day to call-off and consolidated delivery, RS Components offer a variety of flexible delivery options to make sure you get your equipment fast and safe.

This article was produced in partnership with RS Components.

COVID-19 vaccine pioneer awarded Prime Minister’s Prize for Science

An evolutionary biologist and virologist who played a transformative role in the global scientific response to COVID-19 has won this year’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

Professor Edward C. Holmes from the University of Sydney received the $250,000 prize for almost 30 years of pioneering research on genome sequencing data, providing invaluable insights into diseases such as HIV, Ebola, SARS and most recently, COVID-19.

Last year Professor Holmes was the first person in the world to publicly share the COVID-19 virus’ genome sequence. This crucial data enabled scientists to start vaccine design within days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Professor Holmes’ research into emerging viruses played a critical role in Australia’s response to COVID-19.

“Science has been at the forefront of our minds for the last 18 months, and Professor Holmes’ contribution to accelerating the development of the COVID-19 vaccine – doses of hope, as I call them – saved countless lives,” the Prime Minister said.

“For over 20 years, the Prizes have recognised remarkable Australians whose dedication to scientific research and innovation has led the way in shaping the future of our country, and Professor Holmes exemplified why we placed our trust in science to effectively respond to COVID-19.

“On behalf of all Australians, congratulations to the scientists, innovators, educators and research organisations being recognised for their dedication to solving the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

The $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation was awarded to Professor Anthony Weiss AM from the University of Sydney for his trailblazing research into accelerating and improving the repair of human tissue. In 2008 he founded Elastagen to commercialise his research and inventions.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said research-based innovation leading to commercialisation demonstrated the value and importance of the work of Australian scientists.

“I would like to thank this year’s recipients for creating a more productive and more prosperous future for all of us through their research achievements, and for inspiring our next generation of scientists and innovators,” Minister Price said.

“Our Government is committed to ensuring we use science – and the incredible work of our scientists – to continue to improve the lives of all Australians.”

Additional prizes presented on the night were:

  • The $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools was presented to Mr Scott Graham, Head of Agriculture at Barker College (NSW), for changing the way agricultural science is taught by developing unique programs to engage students and emphasise the positive difference agriculture makes to society.
  • The $50,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools was presented to Mrs Megan Hayes, STEM specialist and primary teacher at Mudgeeraba Creek State School (QLD), for her outstanding work in championing the importance of STEM education in her local school community, and at a national level.
  • The $50,000 Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year was presented to Professor Sherene Loi, Medical Oncologist and Head of the Translational Breast Cancer Laboratory at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, for her work to translate scientific findings into innovative treatments that can improve the survival of breast cancer patients in Australia and around the world.
  • The $50,000 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year was presented to world-leading astronomer and engineer, Dr Keith Bannister, whose work using CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope to solve the mystery of Fast Radio Burst radio waves is now helping solve several of the big astronomical mysteries of our generation.
  • The $50,000 Prize for New Innovators was presented to Associate Professor Michael Bowen, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer for Kinoxis Therapeutics and from the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre, for his work to drive scientific discoveries relating to serious brain disorders (such as opioid use disorder) that lack effective treatments.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are Australia’s most prestigious awards for outstanding achievements in scientific research, research-based innovation and excellence in science, mathematics or technology teaching.

The 2021 awards presentation was held online, and can be viewed at www.industry.gov.au/pmprizes.

Australian MedTech innovation goes global


Image: Canaria Technologies Managing Director Theodora Le Souquet and Head of Marketing Sharon Dargaville wearing the earpiece.

The Canaria-V Earpiece — a medical-grade, wearable MedTech device — is set to transform the way people and companies work through real-time health management, saving lives and increasing productivity by predicting serious medical incidents in users before they happen.

In Australia alone, cognitive fatigue currently accounts for two thirds of all industrial accidents and costs the country $61.8 billion in safety-related work injuries. The earpiece works to counteract these risks by using a proprietary, real-time predictive biometric algorithm to measure a series of internal and external variables, alerting both the individual and supervisors to any cognitive fatigue and heat stress-driven risks before they happen, preventing potentially fatal on-site incidents.


Embley Contracting, a Weipa based 100% Aboriginal owned and operated major local mining contractor has partnered with Canaria Technologies to roll out the Canaria-V Earpiece as part of this world-first pilot program at Rio Tinto’s operations in Western Cape York, Far North Queensland this month, with the technology worn by technicians, process plant operators and coach drivers in extreme heat conditions across a five-day period.


Canaria Technologies Managing Director Theodora Le Souquet said the partnership with Embley Contracting was a significant step in the right direction to revolutionising workplace health and safety mandates in the mining industry, and beyond.


“Our partnership with Embley Contracting will assist Canaria Technologies in becoming a recognised leader in predictive biometrics on the global stage, pioneering the next generation of industrial safety and positioning us for international growth with some of world’s largest mining companies,” she said.


“The Canaria-V Earpiece software allows for the constant evolution of protocols and safety management to set a new standard in workplace health and safety mandates which have not seen substantial progression in decades.


“The success of this pilot program in Weipa, as well as a previous project undertaken at Rio Tinto’s joint venture Resolution Copper Mine in Arizona earlier this year, has positioned Canaria Technologies at the forefront of workplace health and safety innovation” she said.


The pilot program included the deployment of prototype predictive biometric devices across underground mine sites to capture data for use in the prediction of heat stress, man down and cognitive fatigue scenarios throughout ordinary rostered shifts.

How it works


The Canaria-V Earpiece works by using a proprietary, real-time predictive biometric algorithm to measure skin temperature, movement, volumetric variations of blood circulation and environmental data, alerting the individual to any cognitive fatigue and heat stress-driven risks before they happen, preventing potentially fatal on-site incidents.


“Our overarching objective is to improve safety for those on the ground while reducing on-site incident frequency, and associated insurance and asset damage costs, as well as optimising incident recovery time for workers affected by heat stress and cognitive fatigue to improve site productivity,” Le Souquet said.
The recent pilot program has also marked a significant move in spearheading Australia’s world-leading predictive biometrics while maintaining onshore design, engineering and manufacturing of the devices, contributing to Australia’s tech-driven economy.


Canaria Technologies’ Australian-designed wearable device will be manufactured onshore by Queensland-based advanced electronic manufacturer Elexon Electronics, which has a track-record in the development of advanced digital technology across the mining, medical, aerospace and defence industries.


Elexon Electronics CEO Frank Faller said the company was excited to empower Canaria Technologies’ talented team of engineers and designers to revolutionise the industry, and put Australia on the map for biometrics technology with the Canaria-V Earpiece.

“Elexon Electronics is a trusted engineering and manufacturing partner to many global companies in the mining, MedTech and defence sector,” he said.


“In the 15 years of operation, we have developed an extensive IP in the area of communication and monitoring
systems for harsh environments, and Canaria’s wearable sensors complement our unique product range.


“Collaboration with start-ups is one of our core beliefs and we are excited about being able to support Canaria by offering our expertise and state-of-the-art electronics manufacturing equipment,” he said.


Canaria Technologies is a market-leader in predictive biometric systems, providing non-invasive medical-grade
wearable devices powered by proprietary biometric algorithms to predict and prevent cognitive fatigue and heat stress.