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Engineering research crucial - UC engineering symposium

Engineering research crucial - UC engineering symposium, August 28

August 14, 2012

The world is undergoing huge and challenging issues and engineering research will be directly involved in paving the way to solutions, a University of Canterbury (UC) professor said today.

Issues included depleting natural resources through economic and population growth and an explosion in the e-digital world, professor Conan Fee said today.

``Because things are developing so rapidly UC’s College of Engineering is putting on a significant one-day research symposium on August 28 to showcase some of the research work going on in the college,’’ he said.

``This event will also highlight our capabilities We want this to be a major annual symposium." The inaugural event was in 2010 but there was no 2011 event because of the February 22 earthquakes.

Australia’s Stefan Hajkowicz, from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, who has been leading their global trends project, is the keynote speaker. He will talk about a range of current and future trends that will affect the world, from an Australasian perspective.

These trends include a growing proportion of middle-class in India, increased needs for water, food and energy, possible conflicts between nations over resources, an ageing population, and startling statistics such as the need for China to build three cities the size of Sydney each year for the next 20 years to cope with population shifts.

Professor Jan Evans-Freeman, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Engineering, will talk about some of the research going on in the college and our capabilities. Other UC speakers include Christoph Bartneck on electronic publishing and Martin Allen on ultraviolet vision.

The symposium has been backed by Izon Scientific, Solid Energy, and Powerhouse.

UC professor Xiao-Qi Chen will talk about wall-climbing robots and their industrial applications, including replacing people when inspecting large stainless steel tanks in the dairy industry (previously requiring them to spend several days on scaffolds or abseiling to do this).

Associate professor John Abrahamson will talk about his spin-out company, Arc-Active in making large-scale production of carbon nanotubes for long-life batteries and other applications. Abrahamson was, arguably, the first person in the world to describe nanotubes during his PhD research in the mid-70s.

Professor Roger Nokes will speak about the new UC Quake Centre, a multi-million dollar hub which is being set up to develop, lead and manage earthquake engineering R&D projects in collaboration with industry and government, for example to develop high performance, cost-effective and practical damage-resistant solutions.

The Quake Centre will also host industry personnel and national and international earthquake engineering experts.

A panel of experts at the symposium will discuss how engineering research can best contribute to New Zealand Canterbury.

Among those on the panel is Shaun Coffey, chief executive of crown research institute Industrial Research Ltd, who are currently seconding research staff to work fulltime on the university campus.


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