Canberra City campus design brief to NCA

On the 2nd of April 2020, UNSW Canberra presented a Design Brief to the National Capital Design Review Panel. This presentation forms the next stage of master planning and outline’s UNSW Canberra’s response to the National Capital Authority’s guidelines for developments in the area.

The presentation can be viewed here.

UNSW Canberra City given the green light

UNSW Canberra will build a world-class research, education and innovation campus in the heart of Canberra city following approval from the ACT Government.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr today made the announcement that the land on Constitution Avenue in the city’s east will be home to the new campus as well as a new Defence and Security Innovation Precinct.

UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs said the initiative will strengthen Canberra’s reputation as a knowledge and innovation hub, as well as boost the city’s economy and employment.

“UNSW has a 50-year history of delivering outstanding education and research in Canberra. This new campus will enable us to take the scale and quality of our involvement in Canberra to a new level. It is an exciting time for UNSW and for the national capital, as its tertiary education credentials are further enhanced,” he said.

“I thank the Chief Minister and the ACT Government for allowing UNSW an even greater role in the future of the city.”

UNSW Canberra Rector Professor Michael Frater said the new Canberra City campus will provide the opportunity to expand on the courses currently offered at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

UNSW Canberra City will be built in stages to accommodate future growth and is located in the middle of Canberra’s research and innovation corridor, situated with other like-minded institutions such as the Defence and Intelligence Headquarters in Russell.

“The campus is an ideal location for universities, industry and government to collaborate, discover and drive global change,” Professor Frater said.

“UNSW Canberra City will also be home to a new Defence and Security Innovation Precinct.The dedicated innovation precinct will allow academics, companies, government bodies and community to come together to develop defence and security capability, talent and technology.”

UNSW Canberra is committed to working with all stakeholders including the ACT Government, National Capital Authority, CIT, and local residents. Today also marks the launch of the community consultation program inviting early input into the development of the master plan for the campus.

Complementing existing academic courses and research at the ADFA campus, UNSW Canberra City advances the University’s place in the nation’s capital, reinforcing its commitment to the region.

“Today marks the beginning of the next phase of the UNSW Canberra story and we look forward to work getting underway on the development of UNSW Canberra City,” Professor Frater said.

The community is invited to contribute to the master planning phase and can find out more here.

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Have your say on the Canberra City campus master plan

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The UNSW Canberra City campus will be located on the corner of Coranderrk Street and Constitution Avenue and the existing car park site across Constitution Avenue.

UNSW Canberra is committed to working with stakeholders and the community as master planning for the City campus commences.

We’d like to hear your ideas on how the campus should connect with the surrounding neighbourhood and broader city, the types of amenities that might be included, and how the natural environment could be enhanced in the design. In particular we would like your thoughts on:

  1. What is important to appropriately connect the UNSW Canberra City campus with the surrounding area and broader city?
  2. What amenities do you think are important for a teaching and research environment in this area?
  3. How can the natural environment be enhanced in this proposed urban development?
  4. What do you value in larger-scale developments in this area of Canberra?

With the current COVID-19 crisis, unfortunately face-to-face engagement activities are not currently available in the best interest of public safety. However, we have created a number of online and remote opportunities to participate that will allow you to contribute your thoughts and ideas in just the same way you would if you were speaking with us in person.

The opportunity for community input to the master plan closes on Monday 18 May. However this is the first of many conversations UNSW Canberra will have with the community as we plan and deliver the Canberra City campus. Find out how you can have your say on the Canberra City campus master plan.

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YoWIEs sighted in Canberra

Launch on Northbourne Opening

With less than 14% of degree qualified engineers in Australia being women, YoWIEs, or Young Women in Engineering are as difficult to find in engineering schools across Australia as their mythical counterparts.

This week, UNSW Canberra is hosting the largest pack of YoWIEs ever seen at its engineering summer school, and it really is an amazing sight.

The YoWIE program was created to directly disrupt the imbalance in the gender make up of Australian engineers. It has been designed specifically for young women and aims to show them engineering is for them through a number of fun, hands-on activities.

This year, more than 80 year 9 to 12 girls from across the country have come together to take part in the free three-day event. Some of the activities the girls will complete include designing satellites, building and testing rockets, disassembling a lawn mower and programming a robot. They will also hear from Liz Pearce who works at the Australian Space Agency.

Event organiser and aerospace engineer Dr Bianca Capra is passionate about increasing the number of women into the profession she loves.

“Engineering is a unique profession mixing creativity, abstract thinking and technical skills to solve unknown problems,” Dr Capra said.

“It is fundamental to our lives, yet sadly remains non-representative of our society. The innovative future that is our promise to further generations will only be achieved with diverse and inclusive teams – and increasing the number of women in engineering is a crucial first step to greater diversity.”

Dr Capra said the participants are at an important time in their schooling. Some will be deciding on subjects for their senior classes, while others considering university options.

“Over the next few days, these young women will develop and use the real skills of practicing engineers, improving not only their skills but their confidence in engineering. We hope that this week they are empowered to continue studies in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, which are critical subjects to any STEM career,” Dr Capra said.

“YoWIE continues to grow organically, with a year-on-year growth of about 28% so we must be doing something right! The success of YoWIE is testament to the depth of the program as well as the support from schools, teachers and parents. Importantly this program is having a real impact with several of our first pack of YoWIEs enrolling to studying engineering.

“We need gender parity in all areas of STEM, and particularly engineering where the numbers remain stubbornly low. It’s time we shook things up, and that’s what we do here at YoWIE and that’s why I love it.”

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UNSW Canberra awarded six ARC Discovery Projects

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Research into the swarm behaviours of robots, how sound waves exert force on objects and how a bird’s wingtip feathers contribute to its flying ability are among six UNSW Canberra projects awarded more than $2.8 million in Australian Research Council (ARC) funding.

Eleven academics from UNSW Canberra Engineering and IT were awarded funding from the ARC Discovery Projects on Wednesday.

In total, 72 UNSW projects received $30.8 million in the ARC Discovery Project scheme announced by Minister for Education Dan Tehan.

Professor Nicholas Fisk, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), congratulated the University’s researchers on their funding success.

The Discovery Projects scheme provides funding for research projects that can be undertaken by individual researchers or research teams.

The objectives of the scheme include: supporting excellent basic and applied research by individuals and teams; encouraging high-quality research; enhancing international collaborations in research and expanding Australia’s knowledge base and research capabilities.

UNSW Canberra ARC Discovery Project 2020 Round grant recipients:


$580,000 to Professor Hussein Abbass and Dr Sondoss Elsawah

Transforming data assets into organisational knowledge assets sits in the hands of a few, highly specialised, data scientists. The aim of this research is to design educational instruments to support non-experts to teach artificial intelligence (AI) systems in a similar way to educating human teachers to teach human learners.

$390,000 to Professor Jiankun Hu

Privacy-preserving Biometrics based Authentication and Security. Password based authentication systems cannot verify genuine users. Biometric authentication can address this issue. The intended deliverables will include deep learning based biometric feature extractor, cancellable biometrics and cloud oriented biometrics security protocols.

$373,000 to Associate Professors Kathryn Kasmarik and Matthew Garratt

This project aims to develop algorithms to permit groups of robots to evolve coordinated, collective, swarm behaviours. Groups of robots will be conceptualised as developmental swarm organisms with an initially limited set of behaviours, but equipped with structures and processes to permit them to evolve new behaviours.

$540,000 to Professor Valeri Ougrinovski

The project aims to develop an innovative systems theory and optimisation methods to enhance the design of components for next-generation quantum communication networks. It will advance new theoretical knowledge and efficient algorithms that can be applied to make networks more efficient and less costly.

$400,000 to Dr David Powell

This project aims to investigate how sound waves exert forces on objects, and how these forces can be controlled by artificially engineered structures known as acoustic metamaterials. The project is expected to lead to a new understanding of acoustic radiation forces, and how they can be efficiently manipulated with high resolution.

$535,000 to Dr Fangbao Tian, Associate Professor John Young, Professor Joseph Lai and Dr Sridhar Ravi

This project aims to produce a deeper understanding of the role of wingtip feathers in the remarkable abilities of birds to fly in unsteady and unpredictable aerodynamic environments, and in some cases to do so almost silently.

Launch on Northbourne Opening

UNSW Canberra launches new collaboration space

Launch on Northbourne Opening

A new collaborative workspace precinct in Canberra City dedicated to the defence and security industries has been announced today.

Called Launch on Northbourne, and hosted by UNSW Canberra, the precinct is a concept that will provide three floors of collaborative workspace bringing together industry, government and academia to grow innovation and capability in defence and security.

UNSW Canberra Rector Professor Michael Frater said that innovation is one of the most significant sources of sustainable competitive advantage.

“That is why UNSW Canberra identified the need for a dedicated innovation space that will allow these different industries to come together to develop defence and security capability, talent and technology,” he said.

As part of the Launch concept, UNSW Canberra will host a cohort of start-ups in the defence and security industries. The incubator initiative also forms part of the University’s greater commitment to growing industry and academic capability in the region.

“Universities are trusted partners in the development of defence and security capabilities and Launch on Northbourne will build off a successful base of established activity, talent and infrastructure that is maintained by UNSW Canberra and the greater UNSW network,” Professor Frater said.

The precinct will be designed using the Protective Security Policy Framework which articulates the effective implementation of physical, personnel and information security. Launch’s flexible space solutions will suit a broad number of organisations, with security Zones Two, Three and Four supporting the proposed workspace models.

Professor Frater said that for a model such as Launch to be successful it requires the ability to tap in to a network of innovators, researchers, thought leaders and existing commercial expertise.

“The workspace provided by the precinct will provide an avenue for shared infrastructure and ideas, through to networking opportunities with complementary entities and individuals and to pool resources with like-minded companies and institutions,” he said.

More information about the precinct can be found on the Launch on Northbourne website.

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UNSW Canberra Cyber collaborates on social science project

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Academics from UNSW Canberra Cyber were a central part of a project providing an Australian academics perspective on a United States Survey that delves into the social and behavioural sciences and how targeted research in this area will strengthen intelligence assessments.

In March 2019, the United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report entitled A Decadal Survey of the Social and Behavioral Sciences: A Research Agenda for Advancing Intelligence Analysis (the Survey).

In response, the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia has been commissioned by the Australian Government’s Office of National Intelligence (ONI), on behalf of the National Intelligence Community (NIC), to provide an Australian perspective, with a particular focus on its 10-year vision, and to examine the capacity of the Australian social science research community to offer insights in relation to this agenda for its own national intelligence sector.

An Expert Working Group engaged more than thirty experts from intelligence studies, cyber security and broader social sciences disciplines.

A workshop was held on October 29 comprising ten Australian intelligence agencies to present the findings from the ASSA study. The findings suggest that social science understandings can add value to making good sense of the security environment.

It further argues that Australia has distinctive comparative advantages in social science, through global excellence, as well as those relating to the region in which we live.

Finally, it provided four key recommendations for facilitating better mutual understanding and engagement as between official agencies and independent research scholarship in these fields.

The workshop has created a strong basis for ongoing work on social cyber through structured liaison between the national intelligence community and the Australian social science research community.

Interested UNSW cyber and social science researchers should contact Glenn Withers or Greg Austin if they would wish to be involved with the ONI and ASSA follow up. Cyber issues were specifically identified as involved in four of the six core concerns for future social science insight for the intelligence community.