Tag Archives: australian manufacturing

Australian automotives

Transforming Australian automotives

More than $3 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding has been awarded to RMIT to establish a new centre that will support the transformation of the nation’s automotive industry.

Funded by the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub scheme, the RMIT Centre in Lightweight Automotive Structures brings together 31 world-leading scientists and industrial engineers from 16 organisations from Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the USA.

Professor Calum Drummond, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President at RMIT, says the grant builds on the university’s commitment to help shape a vibrant Australian manufacturing sector in the global economy.

“RMIT’s distinctive approach to connected education and research links creative ideas with technical knowledge and focuses on the challenges and opportunities emerging around the world,” says Drummond.

“Australia’s automotive industry is undergoing a major structural change, due to the cessation of motor vehicle assembly by the end of 2017.

“This places more than 260 local component manufacturers, which form Australia’s automotive supply chain, under extreme pressure.

“The new centre aims to assist the transformation of Australia’s automotive industry from vehicle production to exporting engineering services and locally manufactured high-value products.”

The strategic partnership with Ford Motor Company, Deakin University, the Australian National University, Australian Rollforming Manufacturers, Composite Materials Engineering, Quickstep Automotive, Capral Aluminium, MTM Automotive Components, CSIRO, dataM, Sheet Metal Solutions, Shape Corporation, University of Bristol, Michigan Technological University, Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen, and Imperial College London will collectively invest $11.6 million over five years to train industry-focused researchers.

The Centre’s Director is Professor Chun Wang from the School of Engineering, who is also the Director of the Sir Lawrence Wackett Aerospace Research Centre at RMIT.

Wang says the aim is to develop new lightweight materials, advanced manufacturing processes, energy storage designs, and rapid non-destructive evaluation techniques, which are a key to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in transportation.

“More importantly, we hope the centre will accelerate the transformation of Australia’s automotive industry – now facing unprecedented structural adjustment – from vehicle production to the export of design and engineering services, high-value products and novel technology solutions.”

The ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub scheme is designed to engage Australia’s best researchers in issues facing the new industrial economies and training the future workforce.

The scheme supports collaborative research activity between the Australian higher education sector and industry designed to focus on strategic outcomes not independently realisable.

 Petra van Nieuwenhoven

This article was first published by RMIT University on 17 May 2016. Read the original article here.

science literacy

Path to a ‘right-skilled’ workforce

The world is changing and changing fast! Several studies, such as Australia’s Future Workforce released by CEDA last year, tell us that 40% of the jobs we know today will not exist in 15 years. So what do we need to do be ready for this? Here is my four-step plan:

1. Need for basic science literacy

The need of a base level of science literacy is growing as our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology and science to support our daily lives[1]. However, the number of school children undertaking science and mathematics in their final years at high school is dropping at alarming rates.

Those who can use devices and engage with new technology are able to participate better in the modern world. Those unable to are left behind.

Because Australia has high labour costs, and as robotics and other automated technologies replace many jobs, school education needs to inspire young Australians to realise that science is both a highly creative endeavour, and a pathway to entrepreneurial and financial success.

We need to inspire a wider range of personality types to consider post-school science and engineering training and education as a pathway to build new businesses.

2. Need to broaden the scope of university education

Currently Australian universities are highly motivated to direct research and teaching activities towards academic excellence, as this is the recognised measure of university performance.

Industry experience and methods of solving industrial problems are not generally seen as components of the metrics of academic excellence.

We need to increase the focus on developing entrepreneurial skills and industry exposure and engagement during university education.


“If we are to achieve improvements in economic stimulus by R&D investment, it will be necessary to lift the skills base and the absorptive capacity of Australian companies.”


3. Need to lift industry skills

It is essential that businesses and technologists better understand people’s needs and wants, so they can be more successful in designing and producing products and services that increase their competitiveness locally, and allow them to enter the global market. They can do this by using the opportunities that digital-, agile-, e- and i-commerce can offer.

If we are to achieve improvements in economic stimulus by R&D investment, it will be necessary to lift the skills base and the absorptive capacity of Australian companies.

Recent statistics demonstrate that Australian manufacturing is characterised by a high vocational education and training (VET) to university-educated workforce ratio. If we are to move to a more advanced industry focus in Australia, this ratio needs to change – not necessarily by reducing the number of VET-qualified employees, but through the development of higher-value positions that necessitate a university science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educated workforce.

In industrial settings, complexities occur where the adoption of design-led innovation principles can make a difference. Recent research has indicated that the application of design-led innovation by Australian companies can be the forerunner of future success.

4. Embracing the full human potential

As future capacity builds through the initiatives mentioned above, there is a need to engage the full spectrum of capability that is already trained in STEM.

There is latent capability there for the taking if we capitalise on the opportunities that a diverse workforce has to offer.

Development of approaches to attract and retain women, people of different cultures, broader age groups including the young and the old, and all socioeconomic classes, has the potential to lift our workforce skill set.

Time is running out. We need to act now.

Dr Cathy Foley

Deputy Director and Science Director, CSIRO Manufacturing Flagship

Read next: Dr Alex Zelinsky, Chief Defence Scientist and Head of the Defence Science and Technology Group on how National security relies on STEM.

Spread the word: Help to grow Australia’s innovation knowhow! Share this piece using the social media buttons below.

Be part of the conversation: Share your ideas on innovating Australia in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

[1] Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics: Australia’s Future, A Report from the Office of the Chief Scientist, September 2014.