The Good News — Feb. 2022

The Good News documents the achievements and accolades of the students and researchers who make up the ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science.

Monday 21 February 2022

Dean Nick Birbilis welcomes CECS students

To kick off Orientation Week, Dean Nick Birbilis welcomed new CECS students with a thoughtful new web video (seen above). And Associate Dean, Education Natalie Lloyd followed by hosting a virtual introductory session that went into greater detail. Later in the week, 2021 graduate Ruth Kravis, who earned a University Medal for her work in the School of Engineering while majoring in Mechatronics and Philosophy, joined Birbilis in welcoming new starters at the CECS Welcome event (seen below).

Mikaela Jade's powerful Commencement address

Mikaela Jade is an ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science graduate (M.Cybernetics) and a Cabrogal woman of the Dharug-speaking nation of Sydney. When she was asked to speak at the 2022 ANU Commencement by Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt, her reply was, "Are you sure?"

We're so glad you accepted the invitation, Mikaela. This is a powerful message that every Australian, not just every ANU student, should hear.

More than 200 CECS students celebrate graduation on campus

“It’s been such a ride,” said Dawn Leonardo, who graduated from a Flexible Double Degree (Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Commerce) and participated in a Conferring of Awards ceremony on 7 February, 2022.  “Being part of student societies and going to Nepal to participate in a Humanitarian Design Summit were definitely highlights for me,” she said.
There were challenges, such as being away from friends and family, but also ways to mitigate it: “making sure to check in with people, making sure you are not alone and keep going”.  Read more.
Ryan Pike, who graduated in 2021 with Bachelor of Engineering (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Science degrees, returned to campus on 9 February, 2022 to speak at a second Conferring of Awards ceremony for those who, like Ryan, had graduated during a stage of the pandemic when such a large congregation had not been not possible. Read more.



Professor Amanda Barnard recognised in Australia Day honours

The Australian Honours and Awards recognise the outstanding service and contributions of Australians. This week, Senior Professor Amanda Barnard was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “for significant service to computational science, to medical research, and to education”. Barnard serves as Deputy Director of the School of Computing where she leads an initiative utilising high performance supercomputing in the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

“The Honour is a timely recognition of the importance of computational science today”, said Professor Barnard upon receiving the award. “For many Australians the last two years has been the first time they have heard (sometimes daily) about modelling results, but mathematics, machine learning and supercomputing are pivotal to many of the solutions to our biggest challenges in science, health the environment and society.”  Read more.

Prof David Hawking: Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years of Computing

If you missed a few of the past 50 years of computing at ANU, don't worry! Prof David Hawking was here for most of them, and was a recent guest on the ANU Computing Leadership Seminar Series. He talked about his book, The History of ANU Computing, which he will be signing at next year's 50 Years in Computing gala event. And he also answered questions about making career choices such as when to leave one position for another, and when or whether to voice criticism of the institution you serve. See the recorded event here.

Eyes in space to monitor Australian ‘tinderbox’ landscapes

Team members of the National Bushfire Initiative, led by Director Marta Yebra, discuss how new satellite technology can predict bushfire threat and monitor which areas are more susceptible to the effects of climate change. Their work was published in The Conversation and also highlighted on TERN’s website.

Afnan Hannan returns to campus to accept Young Alumnus of the Year award

Afnan Hannan returned to ANU today for a lunch and tour of his old stomping grounds, hosted by CECS Advancement. The 2014 CECS graduate and CEO of Okra Solar was presented with the 2021 ANU Young Alumnus of the Year award by Prof Nick Birbilis, Interim Dean.   Watch an interview with Hannan, co-founder of Okra Solar, on Youtube, and listen to his insights and experiences in applying technology to achieve social impact.  Pictured below: Birbilis, Hannan, and Dr Jeremy Smith shortly after the award presentation.


CECS PhD awarded Best Student Paper on ANZCC 2021

PhD student Zeinab Salehi is in her first year of the program and has already made a mark: together with University of Sydney PhD student Yijun Chen, she received the Best Student Paper Award during the Australian-New Zealand Control Conference (ANZCC 2021), last November.

The paper “Social Shaping of Linear Quadratic Multi-Agent Systems” was inspired by the 2021 Texas power outages and introduces new socially resilient market-based approaches for coordinating supply and demand in multi-agent systems. “Both students have impressed the co-authors in their theoretical and collaboration skills, and in their support for each other throughout lockdowns and despite significant time zone differences", said supervisor Elizabeth Ratnam, Senior Lecturer from the School of Engineering.

The fine art of gettering

Scientists in the ANU have conducted a thorough analysis of all state-of-the-art gettering technologies, aimed at reducing defects in wafers used in the solar industry. The results are available in the paper “Gettering in silicon photovoltaics: A review,” published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells. “As cell efficiency increases and becomes increasingly sensitive to traces of metallic impurities, gettering will become an important consideration in cell processing,” explained Dr AnYao Liu, from the School of Engineering, to the PV Magazine.

Parenting podcast addresses the importance of stimulating interest in technology

Happy Families podcast host Dr Justin Coulson chats with Dr Catherine Ball about how to address STEM learning at the school level, how the passion for the Arts is essential for developing technology, and futuristic lessons learned from people such as Genevieve Bell and Winston Churchill. 

Engineering and Computing at ANU highlighted by TechRadar

Despite global challenges, Engineering and Computing careers are booming all over the world - and technology website TechRadar published an article describing how CECS can be a great place to start a rewarding career. The article, developed in partnership with the CECS Marketing team, is part of a conversion campaign to help students who have recently received offers from universities to make their choice of a degree at CECS.

Teaching kids to use drones for employment of the future

The economic impact of drones contributes an estimated $5.5 billion to the Australian economy, which will rise to $14.5 billion by 2040, according to a government study published by Deloitte. In an article published by Technology Decisions, Dr Catherine Ball discusses the importance of attracting more kids to STEM and how they can join the drone industry and other areas of the technology sector.


Eyes on a sustainable future

When the Paris Climate Change Agreement was being discussed, Sanduni Kodagoda was in her final year of a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Chennai, India. That sparked her interest in using technology to improve conditions around the world – starting with a solar-powered desalinisation project to get more useable drinking water. Now, as a graduate of the Masters of Engineering in Renewable Energy program at ANU, Sanduni is part of the current generation of postgraduates looking to create a more sustainable future. Read more.

Dr Hieu Nguyen wins Golden Globe Science and Technology Award 2021

Dr Hieu Nguyen was one of ten recipients to receive the prestigious Early Career Scientists award which is given to Vietnamese citizens for outstanding achievements in science and technology from across the world. A Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in the CECS, Dr Hieu Nguyen was recognised for his contributions to the development of advanced characterisation techniques for solar energy devices. Read more.

AI research highlighted in article on PhD challenges during the pandemic

A group of ANU researchers – including Dr Hanna Suominen, from the School of Computing  - have developed artificial intelligence tools that can analyse thousands of job advertisements and identify those suitable for PhD graduates. When The Conversation published an article about the disruption to PhD research in New Zealand (and Australia), their work was mentioned as one of the sources for the discussion.

Drones for good

People are now familiar with the use of drones in recreation and detection, but, according to Dr Catherine Ball, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering, their potential for positive impact is limited only by imagination. In an article for Cosmos Magazine, she describes how they could be used for registering optimal harvest times; autonomously extinguishing spot fires; and analysing oil spills from air, among other possibilities currently being explored.

How Mikaela Jade made the most of lockdown through Indigital

Alumna Mikaela Jade created an Indigenous education technology company online before COVID hit. Indigital uses augmented, virtual and mixed reality production to provide schoolchildren lessons on Indigenous culture, using the knowledge of local elders. However, she was not immune to the pandemic effects: "We actually meet up in holographic format with teachers and students and elders." In this interview to the Canberra Times, she talks about the recent challenges in her career.

Drone security leads to job security 6 months before graduation

Lewis Aston signed up for the Capstone engineering course because it was required, and he didn’t think about much beyond that. Six months later, an inspiring mentoring relationship had led to an eight-week Summer internship, and then the offer of a full-time position at one Australia’s leading engineering firms. 

Tech future, human rights: the need for digital and STEM literacy

In the article featured at the Griffith Review, Dr Catherine Ball describes how, despite the unimaginable challenges we have all been facing for the last few years, one thing assists us to curate hope: our combined knowledge and intellectual power as the species Homo sapiens. It includes data on STEM literacy, trends and suggestions on how to create a brighter future.

CECS scientist comments the creation of self-burning plasma

Matthew Hole, from the School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences Institute, explains to the ABC why an article about miniature suns self-heating their own reactions mark a milestone for this approach to nuclear fusion.

Technology in discussion on the Algorithmic Futures podcast

Senior lecturer Dr Liz Williams of the School of Cybernetics, and senior research fellow Dr Zena Assaad of the School of Engineering have released the podcast series Algorithmic Futures. In this podcast, Liz and Zena talk to technology creators, regulators, and dreamers from around the world to learn how complex technologies may shape our environment and societies in the years to come. The first episode is now live and you can listen to it on the Algorithmic Futures website or subscribe on Apple Podcasts & Spotify.

ANU researchers beat (their own) record for next-gen solar cell efficiency

The results of the research have been published in the journal Nature, and detail how a solar conversion efficiency of 22.6% for a 1cm2 cell was achieved through improvements on previous perovskite solar cells. Report co-author and CECS Professor Kylie Catchpole told Renew Economy website that the latest achievement represents an “important step towards commercially available perovskite solar cells”.

The Metaverse is a new word for an old idea

There have been conversations about what form the metaverse could or should take, but Facebook’s idea is not new. In this MIT Technology Review article, Genevieve Bell explains how many of those concepts existed long ago, (way before Snow Crash and Second Life), and it’s important to understand our potential and our limitations as makers of new worlds.

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing