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Articles categorized as ‘JCU Engineering School’

Monday, March 7th, 2016

JCU engineering weed terminator

James Cook University scientists are testing a weed-killing robot they hope will eliminate invasive plant species.

Alex Olsen is tackling the challenge as part of his PhD in Engineering and Related Technologies at JCU. His aim is to develop a robot that will be able to differentiate weeds from other plant life using an algorithm to detect a range of variables including colour, shape and texture.

JCU engineering school

Brendan Calvert, Jake Wood and Alex Olsen with the weed-killing machine (Photo credit: JCU)

“We try to think of it as what we do when we first see it with our own eyes,” Mr Olsen said. “We can identify green straight away, then determine the shape of the plant, then the leaves, and then we strip that down to a point where we can grab small texture windows for a feature comparison to find out if it matches what we’re looking for.”

The machine will have a series of cameras on the front and herbicide sprayers on the back, which will work together through a series of processes to determine precisely when to spray the weed.

Invasive plant species pose a serious threat to Australia’s natural environment and account for around 15 per cent of flora across the country. They displace native species, reduce productivity and cost the agricultural industry an estimated $4 billion per year, with their cost to the environment estimated to be even higher.

Mr Olsen said the scale of the invasive weed problem is such that there is no chance of it being solved by manual weed spraying alone. The machine was recently trialled at Hidden Valley on the western slope of the Paluma Range in north Queensland, and the team was encouraged by the early performance of their prototype.

Environmental weeds are the starting point for the technology but it also has scope for use in agriculture or plant classification.

“It’s not just for weed removal, it could be for helping to identify which species of plant are located in a national park,” Mr Olsen said. “The algorithms are for image processing, if you have a knowledge of this it can apply to anything.”

He said the team envisaged the device being towed by, or fitted to, existing agricultural vehicles in the short-term, but the possibility existed that it could be fully autonomous in the future.

Mr Olsen’s work on weed-killing robots has been recognised in Canon Australia’s Extreme Imaging competition, an initiative by the company’s research and development arm, Canon Information Systems Research Australia Pty Ltd (CiSRA).

Mr Olsen and supervisor, Professor Peter Ridd, received the runner-up prize in the Digital Image Computing: Techniques and Applications (DICTA) category.

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Find out more about JCU Engineering School! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Engineering Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

JCU engineering team wins innovation award for “green” concrete

Research by JCU scientists that looks set to drastically reduce the environmental cost of concrete has won a prestigious innovation award.

JCU Engineering School

L to R: Tony Collister, Fibercon; Shi Yin, JCU; Rabin Tuladhar, JCU and Andrew Smith, Country Chair Shell (Photo credit: JCU)

The technology, developed at JCU through PhD student Shi Yin’s research under the supervision of Dr. Rabin Tuladhar from the JCU School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and in collaboration with Queensland-based company Fibercon, has won the Manufacturing, Construction and Innovation category at this year’s Australian Innovation Challenge.

“We’ve produced recycled polypropylene fibres from industrial plastic wastes. With our improved melt spinning and hot drawing process we now have plastic fibres strong enough to replace steel mesh in concrete footpaths,” said Dr Tuladhar.

He said that the use of recycled plastic waste in concrete makes the building product much more environmentally friendly.

“Using recycled plastic, we were able to get more than a 90 per cent saving on CO2 emissions and fossil fuel usage compared to using the traditional steel mesh reinforcing. The recycled plastic also has obvious environmental advantages over using virgin plastic fibres.”

Concrete is second only to water as the material most commonly used by humankind, with 24 billion tonnes poured globally every year.

Use of recycled plastic fibres in concrete eliminates the need for steel mesh and saves significant amounts of CO2 associated with steel production. Comprehensive life cycle assessment shows the production of recycled plastic fibre produces 90% less CO2 and eutrophication (contamination of water bodies with nutrients) compared to the equivalent steel.

Plastic fibre has already been used in the construction of a 100m-long concrete footpath at James Cook University and pre-cast concrete drainage pits designed by Fibercon.

Dr Tuladhar said the next phase of the research will examine enhancing the mechanical and bond properties of fibres using surface modification and looking into broader applications of recycled plastic fibres in other pre-cast concrete elements.

Learn more about engineering degrees at JCU. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Engineering Schools Officer Shannon Tilston at shannon@oztrekk.com.

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

JCU researcher developing electric car gadget to drive profits

A James Cook University researcher is working on a new device that will let electric car owners sell extra current from their vehicle’s battery to the power network.

JCU Information Technology School

JCU researcher Kirk Martel (Photo credit: JCU)

Kirk Martel is developing technology that will tell electric vehicle owners the best time to sell excess charge back to the grid.

A display unit smaller than an iPad screen and designed to fit under a car stereo will receive information from a smart meter.

It will tell users when to sell power to the grid and when to buy, based on peak and trough periods of demand and pricing.

Mr Martel said the benefits of his device will extend to more than just electric car owners. “My key aim is to help the consumer, but with many more electric cars expected on the road the electricity companies may not be able to handle the load without significant upgrades unless many of the cars are being charged at optimum times.”

Researchers have found the typical private user plugged their car in after work at a time of peak domestic demand. Fleet users plugged in at work during peak industrial demand.

Mr Martel said the calculations needed were more complicated than turning the battery on and off at certain times.

“The hard part is answering all the other things: how quickly do different battery types charge? When you are discharging it to the grid, how much charge do you leave in the battery for emergency trips? The battery will be subject to extra wear if it is charging and discharging more often, how do you take account of that?”

Mr Martel said he expects to complete the project by the end of the year.

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Would you like more information about engineering and information technology programs available at James Cook University? Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355 (toll free in Canada).

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Global interest in JCU’s revolutionary IT course

Global tech experts are looking to Cairns, with strong international interest in JCU’s revolutionary new engineering course, the Internet of Things.

JCU is the first Australian university to establish a new program in “Electronic Systems and the Internet of Things (IoT)”, as part of its Bachelor of Engineering. It’s believed that James Cook University is only the second university in the world to offer such a course.

JCU IT School

Study IT and engineering at JCU  (image credit: JCU)

The Internet of Things is expected to lead to the next revolution in computer technology. It will allow everyday objects to have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data, creating radical shifts in the way we apply technologies in our daily lives.

More than 50 people from 14 countries have applied for two senior academic positions with the course at JCU’s Cairns campus.

Applications have been received from countries as diverse as the United States, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Norway, Malaysia and Portugal.

The Dean of the College of Science, Technology and Engineering, Professor Paul Dirks said he’s delighted by the strong interest in the course.

“It confirms the global significance of the Internet of Things and vindicates JCU’s decision to establish such an innovative course.”

“The Internet of Things will create the conditions for a new industrial revolution over the next decade, and JCU is leading the charge on educating the next generation of computer engineers,” Prof Dirks said.

The four-year degree will be offered at JCU’s Cairns campus from 2016. It will combine the study of electrical engineering, wireless communication, software engineering and industrial design.

There will be an emphasis on sensor devices, internet technologies, data mining and cloud computing.

It’s the first time a full engineering degree has been offered at the Cairns campus.

James Cook University will work with industry partners, linking advancements in the Internet of Things to entrepreneurial opportunities. New commercial opportunities focused on the potential of northern Australia and the tropical world will be a special focus.

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Learn more about JCU Engineering School. Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Engineering Schools Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Friday, April 10th, 2015

New JCU Engineering course prepares for the Internet of Things

JCU is preparing for the next revolution in internet technology, announcing a new course to teach engineering students the fascinating possibilities of the “Internet of Things.”

The Dean of the College of Science, Technology and Engineering, Professor Paul Dirks said the convergence of rapidly expanding sensor technologies with the opportunities offered for data analytics through a faster internet and cloud computing facilities is creating a radical shift in the way we will apply technologies in our daily lives.

JCU Engineering School

Study engineering and IT at James Cook University

“It will create the conditions for a new industrial revolution over the next decade that will be centred on the “Internet of Things.” We will see a tremendous expansion in the level of connectedness of devices.

“The number of internet connected devices will rise by orders of magnitudes as almost ‘everything’ becomes IP addressable and discoverable,” Prof Dirks said.

James Cook University is the first Australian university to establish a new program in “Electronic Systems and the Internet of Things (IoT),” as part of its Bachelor of Engineering.

The four-year degree will be offered at JCU’s Cairns campus from 2016. It will combine the study of electrical engineering, wireless communication, software engineering and industrial design.

There will be an emphasis on sensor devices, internet technologies, data mining and cloud computing, together referred to as the Internet of Things.

Prof Dirks said as the Internet of Things develops new forms of commerce and economies will emerge as old models are disrupted.

“New start-up industries will develop that require a new type of graduate with the technical, design and entrepreneurial skills set needed to progress firms into this new future.”

JCU Engineering will work with industry partners, linking advancements in the Internet of Things to entrepreneurial opportunities.

New commercial opportunities focused on the potential of northern Australia and the tropical world will be a special focus.

By 2019, JCU hopes to run a full program for more than 200 students in Cairns, supported by eight engineering and science staff.

Would you like more information about JCU Engineering School? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Engineering Schools Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355 (toll free in Canada).

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Concrete goes green at JCU Engineering School

In a first for Australia, James Cook University engineers have swapped steel reinforcing for plastic waste and look set to drastically reduce the environmental cost of concrete.

JCU Engineering School

Study at James Cook University, Queensland

JCU Engineering School Dr Rabin Tuladhar found that short pieces of recycled plastic can be added as reinforcement in concrete, removing the need for steel mesh in concrete footpaths and precast elements such as drainage pits and concrete sleepers.

He said that the use of recycled plastic waste in concrete makes a huge difference towards making it more environmentally friendly.

“Using recycled plastic, we were able to get more than a 90 percent saving on CO2 emissions and fossil fuel usage compared to using the traditional steel mesh reinforcing. The recycled plastic also has obvious environmental advantages over using virgin plastic fibres.”

Dr Tuladhar’s team has conducted successful strength and durability tests on the precast concrete elements made with the recycled plastic fibres. Talks are now underway with concrete producers and local and federal governments on how to employ the new findings.

Dr Tuladhar’s work is focused making concrete production more sustainable. It includes other aspects such as replacement of natural sand with 100 percent crusher dust, a by-product of stone quarries, and the replacement of cement with up to 30 percent mining waste.

Concrete facts:

  • Concrete is the second most-used material on earth, second only to water.
  • More than 25 million cubic meters of concrete are poured annually in Australia.
  • Production of cement, a key ingredient of concrete, produces 900kg of CO2 for every ton of cement and is responsible for 5% of total annual global CO2 production.
  • The total consumption of polypropylene – the kind of plastic used in Dr Tuladhar’s tests – was around 220,000t in 2013 in Australia, from which only 21% was recycled.

About the JCU Engineering School

The JCU School of Engineering and Physical Sciences combines a highly qualified faculty, with comprehensive undergraduate and graduate program offerings making it the premier choice for the region’s school leavers and non-school leavers keen to embark on a career in the dynamic field of engineering, mathematics or physics.

The JCU Engineering School comprehensive teaching laboratory facilities provide valuable hands-on experience in five core engineering specialisations (Chemical, Civil, Computer Systems Engineering, Electrical and Electronic and Mechanical).

The school is proud of its high rankings according to the most recent (2012) Good Universities Australia findings, where JCU’s Engineering Graduate employment rate is 92%, second highest in QLD and well above the 80% national average. Additionally JCU engineering graduates are obtaining the second highest average starting salaries in the state.

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Find out more about JCU Engineering School! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Engineering Schools Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355 (toll free in Canada).

Friday, January 11th, 2013

James Cook University Set To Gather Cyclone Data

James Cook University students at the Townsville campus may see yellow tripods popping up in local parks. Though they may be an odd sight around the city, they’re actually being used to record wind speeds during tropical cyclones.

James Cook University’s Cyclone Testing Station, in the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, is partnering with city council to use the new data-collection system. The devices, called re-locatable anemometers, are already being used for research in tornado regions of North America.

Previously, during cyclone events, wind speeds have been estimated but the new, portable stations that will be deployed two days before a cyclone makes landfall, will be able to instantly relay data to local authorities to provide a more accurate analysis of the massive wind storms.

But James Cook University’s involvement in the initiative runs deeper than just the positioning of equipment. David Henderson, director of JCU’s Cyclone Testing Station, told the University that the Surface Weather Information Relay and Logging Network (SWIRLnet) was actually developed and tested at the JCU laboratory. “The existing measuring systems are sparse in tropical regions of Australia,” he told JCU. “Less than two per cent of the peak wind speeds of cyclones making landfall in Australia, have crossed where there is a capability of measuring them… these transportable anemometers will store data on board, as well as transmitting information every 10 minutes during a weather event.”

He went on to tell the University that the more pre-selected sites to which the stations can be deployed across the North Queensland region, the more reliable the data will be.

Townsville’s Mayor, Jenny Hill, who also chairs the Local Disaster Management Group, was quoted as saying that most residents unfortunately know the ferocity of a tropical cyclone and the need for improving preparedness and recovery times.

The Cyclone Testing Station (CTS) is recognized as the independent authority on the performance of buildings in severe wind events. The CTS is under the umbrella of the School of Engineering and Physical Science at James Cook UniversityThe School of Engineering and Physical Science is also known for its expertise, facilities and research successes in the study of the environments. The school offers postgraduate degrees in Astronomy, Engineering, Maths and Physics.

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Learn more about JCU’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences! Find out about the Townsville Campus at James Cook University.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

James Cook University computer whiz wins top engineering medal

Building his first computer at age 7 may have been an indication that James Cook University’s Michael Peever would excel in a computing and engineering career.

The fourth-year electrical engineering student has won James Cook University’s 2012 Engineers Australia Charles (CN) Barton Medal. The medal is awarded to the student who has presented the best fourth-year engineering thesis seminar at the James Cook University Engineering School.

Born and raised in Townsville, Michael said he was interested in computing and engineering from a very young age.

“I built my first computer at age seven, and completed my Certificate 1 in IT through TAFE at thirteen,” he said. “I always knew that engineering was for me, especially Computer Systems Engineering – there was never a doubt in my mind.”

The Barton Medal was awarded for his work on “Machine Simulation using EMISA Collision Detection Architecture” in the mining industry. The project was designed to improve the efficiency of an iron ore stockyard, the place where ore is stored on a mine site before being sent off site via rail transport.

“I developed the first mining industry-specific stockyard collision detection algorithm, which I called EMISA,” he said. It was a software package which used his EMISA algorithm to stop machines crashing into each other when used alongside current stockyard anti-collision systems.

“It is aimed to aid mine sites in upgrading their anti-collision systems in order to reduce stockyard machine downtimes,” he said.

He was presented with the award at a special ceremony at James Cook University in Townsville.

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Learn more about James Cook University and the James Cook University Engineering School!

Apply now to Australian Engineering Schools in Australia.