Universities advance manufacturing, research sectors

Universities advance manufacturing, research sectors

In addition to offering new courses or degrees to keep Australia’s workforce skills updated, some universities are ramping up efforts to advance innovation and manufacturing capabilities.

Last week, Central Queensland University opened the $10m Rockhampton Manufacturing Hub in its Rockhampton North Campus in a bid to support the local manufacturing industry which employs more than 5,000 people.

State Manufacturing Minister Cameron Dick said the hub will help the industry access equipment, business development programs, as well as skills and training opportunities. CQ University is particularly known for its rail, metal production and food innovation.

Meanwhile, Monash University and the University of Wollongong (UOW) also announced new funding to upgrade their research and facilities.

The Australian Research Data Commons granted Monash’s eResearch Centre $4.3m in funding to lead four projects on data and cloud infrastructure. One project involves upgrading ARDC’s Nectar Research Cloud which serves more than 16,000 researchers involved in about 1,600 active projects.

Professor Ian Smith, University vice-provost (research and research infrastructure), said the funding was crucial given that researchers are generating more complex and unstructured data.

UOW’s Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) recently received a $2.15m boost from the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer to strengthen its advanced materials process, 3D printing, and 3D bioprinting capabilities.

The University received the funding through the state’s biennial Research Attraction and Acceleration program. ANFF will be using the fresh funds to build industry-standard process lines for the commercialisations of novel semiconductor products, bioprinting and quantum technologies.

The funds will also cover operating costs of existing equipment and staff, upgrades in additive and subtractive manufacturing suits and the acquisition of equipment used for patterning, etching or deposition of materials.

Distinguished Professor Gordon Wallace, ANFF Materials Node Director, said the funding will help in accessing state-of-the art materials synthesis and fabrication equipment, keeping them ahead in global trends.

ANFF CEO, Dr Ian Griffiths, said the funding is also essential in improving collaboration among researchers and relevant industries, ultimately leading to creation of new products, companies and employment in the process.