Advanced Manufacturing

UNSW Canberra’s Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory working alongside Ford to improve safety

Advanced Manufacturing

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Lab located at UNSW Canberra City, led by Associate Professor Matt Doolan, has been working with Ford Australia and other key industry partners in a bid to improve safety.

The team are striving to improve quality and reduce downtime by harnessing machine learning to develop novel techniques to monitor weld quality and improve vehicle safety.

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Lab was established for the development and use of innovative technologies for the fabrication of products, covering teaching, research and consulting in various manufacturing processes. This includes advanced laser and laser-hybrid processing of materials, high pressure water jet and air jet processing of materials, mechanical machining, additive manufacturing, and friction and wear.

Associate Professor Doolan completed his PhD in process control at Ford Australia’s former stamping operations facility. He has worked for the Mount Stromlo Observatory on the world’s largest telescopes – the Gemini telescopes, and as an academic in the School of Engineering at the Australian National University. He has led many manufacturing and industry research projects including:

  • process and dimensional control with Ford Australia
  • supply chain management with Toll Auto Logistics and Futuris
  • recycling with the AutoCRC and the ARC Training Centre of Lightweight Automotive Structres (ATLAS)

Associate Professor Doolan also led the highly acclaimed industry technology road mapping projects, Automotive Australia 2020 and On Track to 2040. He has also been involved in a range of different commercial activities across a number of Canberra start-ups and businesses.

With the ongoing advancement in manufacturing techniques, the team at UNSW Canberra City will continue to increase efficiency and improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes.


Skykraft opens new satellite manufacturing facility at UNSW Canberra


The UNSW Canberra City campus is now home to a newly launched Skykraft manufacturing facility. The new facility is enabling the development of the largest ever Australian manufactured space payload which is confirmed for launch this year with SpaceX from Florida.

Skykraft is an Australian company and UNSW Canberra spin-off that delivers services from space, focusing on the development of a space-based Air Traffic Management (ATM) service. The new Canberra manufacturing facility will produce ATM services with an aim to deliver surveillance and communications data for aircraft travelling across regions not covered by existing systems, including oceanic or remote locations.

“Skykraft’s space-based solution allows real-time communications between air traffic controllers and pilots, allowing for the reduction in separation between aircraft over oceanic airspace, enhancing efficiency and delivering environmental benefits,” Skykraft’s chairman, Air Vice Marshal (Ret’d) Mark Skidmore, said.

The new manufacturing facility is aiming to produce up to five satellites by 30 June 2022 with a further 12 satellites throughout the second half of 2022. Satellite production is expected to expand in 2023, with 45 satellites scheduled for production in the first half of 2023 and 120 satellites in the second half.

Read more about the Skykraft

inside the new City Campus

Professor Robert Fitzgerald appointed Head of School

inside the new City Campus

UNSW Canberra recently established the School of Professional Studies, appointing Professor Robert Fitzgerald as Head of School.

Formerly the Pro Vice-Chancellor Education Strategy at Charles Darwin University (CDU), Professor Fitzgerald was responsible for education strategy, digital learning and academic quality across both higher education and vocational education. Robert has built an international reputation for innovation and research in technology-enhanced educational practice.  He brings with him a wealth of knowledge in education, technology and leadership with a strong reputation across government and education sectors which will enable the Canberra School of Professional Studies to establish itself quickly whilst investigating opportunities for future growth.

Robert Fitzgerald
Professor Robert Fitzgerald

The approach of the new School will be to co-design high quality and innovative education products and services with stakeholders across university, government and industry bodies. This will be based on the best of entrepreneurial education, where the goal is to develop students’ capacity to create social, cultural, and economic value in response to real world problems.

The School will offer relevant and agile academic programs and professional education which reflect the needs of the modern workforce, while producing graduates who are job ready and capable of leadership and professional practice both for Canberra and a broader global community.

Impression of City Campus

UNSW Canberra City campus in final stages of approval

Impression of City Campus

The UNSW Canberra City campus Master Plan is in the final stages of approval. Once approved, the Master Plan will be rolled out in four major stages to accommodate future growth and investment.

The Canberra City campus will be a world-class research, education and innovation campus located in the middle of Canberra’s research and innovation corridor in the heart of Canberra. It will further grow the city’s reputation as Australia’s education and innovation capital by leveraging Canberra’s existing research, technology and government ecosystem.

In anticipation for construction to commence, the team at UNSW Canberra have commenced operations from the new UNSW Canberra City location, which is currently located at CIT Reid, fostering valuable connections with Defence, industry and academia.

City Campus Map
Image: UNSW Canberra proposed new city campus location

The new campus will be located on approximately 8 hectares of land either side of Constitution Avenue in Reid and Parkes. CIT Reid is set to be moved to a new flagship facility based in Woden.

The UNSW Canberra City campus will establish education and research facilities, collaborative industry activities, and facilities to support the campus population, such as parking, student accommodation, student services, and retail.

The new campus is a five-minute walk from the CBD, neighbouring some of Canberra’s key institutions such as the ANU, CSIRO, Australian Defence Force Academy and the Defence and intelligence headquarters.

Upon completion, the UNSW Canberra City campus will welcome students and is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs locally, including opportunities for local businesses including on-site restaurants and cafes.  Learn more about Launch at UNSW Canberra City 

Emma Sparks

Professor Emma Sparks appointed new Dean and Rector of UNSW Canberra

Emma Sparks

It has been great to see our students and staff returning to campus with the resumption of in-person classes this year.  While safety still remains a top priority during these unprecedented times, we are thrilled to have our students and staff back on campus.  We have commenced operations in Building J from the new UNSW Canberra City location at CIT Reid, in anticipation for construction to commence on the new UNSW Canberra City campus.

In January this year, Professor Emma Sparks took up the position as UNSW Canberra’s new Dean and Rector.

Joining from Cranfield University in the UK, Professor Sparks has been recognised as one of the ‘Top 50 Women in Engineering in the UK’ and is the first female to be appointed to the role of Dean and Rector at UNSW Canberra.

Professor Sparks brings 20 years’ experience working across both the higher education and defence sectors. Before joining UNSW Canberra, Emma was the Director of Programme Portfolio Delivery, Deputy Director of Education and Head of the Centre for Systems and Technology Management at Cranfield University

Professor Sparks boasts a wealth of accolades and qualifications that make her the perfect fit for this vital role at UNSW Canberra. These include:

  • Member of the International Council on Systems Engineering and the Institution of Engineering and Technology
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) in sports science and osteopathy
  • Masters of Science and PhD in systems engineering for defence
  • Postgraduate certificate in teaching, learning and assessment for higher education.
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK

During her time in the UK at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Fort Halstead, she was responsible for numerous projects looking at all aspects of human protection and performance, helping to develop next-generation soldier systems. Her PhD research on future soldier capability developed a well-established relationship with DST in Adelaide, working on the Australian Soldier Modernisation Program, part of a $35 million package to boost the Army’s combat capability.

Learn more about Professor Emma Sparks

UNSW Canberra Launch continuing support for veterans

UNSW Canberra Launch on Northbourne is proud of its role in supporting veterans and helping innovative defence and security SMEs bring their ideas and products to market.

Since its establishment in February 2020, Launch’s collaborators have continued their growth, with many employing a high proportion of veterans and further developing pathways and opportunities for future veteran employment.

As a 100 per cent veteran owned and veteran staffed company, Viden has been a shining example and advocate for veteran employment. Specialising in cyberworthiness and capability delivery to Defence and other national security partners, Viden has proven a natural and highly supportive environment for many transitioning veterans.

Viden’s Chief Executive Officer Anthony Barnes believes that the unique experience, training and values inherent to many veterans make them a highly capable and obvious choice for employers.

“Veterans are motivated, innovative, honest, hardworking and humble professionals,” Mr Barnes said.

“We are thrilled to have a great veteran team, but equally to be a part of many other great veteran employment initiatives, including the Australian Defence Force’s new industry On The Job Training (OJT) program.”

Launch collaborator Terra Schwartz, a cyber-security company specialising in strategic cyber services and products for Defence and national security clients, employs more than 20 per cent veterans in its team. Head of Cyber at Terra Schwartz, Dr David Ormrod, a 22-year veteran of the Australian Army, said the unique facilities and dynamic environment made Launch an ideal location for their business.

“We are thrilled to be here at Launch in a supportive and collaborative environment which allows us to grow and provide more opportunities for former Defence members,” Dr Ormrod said.

“Our clients need expertise, we are grateful that our veteran community has so many excellent candidates who have the required skills and knowledge to help our industry.”

As the premier military education institution in Australia and a long-standing member of the ACT business community, UNSW Canberra is unique in its approach to supporting the employment of veterans.

UNSW Canberra’s tertiary and professional programs are designed on sector trends, providing the skills and knowledge required for a military career but also making them equally relevant and transferable to a civilian career path; providing a breadth of opportunities for veterans, post-military.

As a research institution, UNSW Canberra shines a light on veteran issues through research, including significant contributions to the fields of post-traumatic stress disorder and analysing veteran homelessness. UNSW Canberra was also a major sponsor of the Invictus Games in 2018, a major event celebrating and showcasing the capabilities of veterans.

UNSW Canberra draws on its knowledge, experience and networks to develop practical initiatives aimed at creating and facilitating opportunities to assist veterans, especially those transitioning to civilian employment.

UNSW Canberra showcases leading Launch innovators

From cyber frameworks to the Battlefield-of-Things, electronic  warfare  capabilities  to  the  manufacture of SmallSat satellites, UNSW Canberra Launch collaborators presented their capabilities, ideas and innovation to industry during the first UNSW Canberra Launch Capabilities Showcase today.

Since it opened its doors in 2019, UNSW Canberra Launch on Northbourne has developed into an ecosystem of defence, space and cyber small-to-medium enterprises. The innovative precinct fosters collaboration between industry, academia and government to grow capabilities in Australia’s strategic priorities.

UNSW Canberra Rector Professor Michael Frater said that the growth of Launch on Northbourne after almost 12 months of operation was evidence of the incubator’s success.

“UNSW Canberra is one of Australia’s leading centres for defence and security capabilities. Launch on Northbourne offers the University an  opportunity  to partner  with and  support  tech  start-ups,  while  giving  our  students  and  researchers pathways to further their work,” Professor Frater said.

“Today our Launch businesses showcased  their capabilities and innovation for  industry.  The great  strength  of  this collaboration is this innovative space that allows different industries to come together to develop solutions, talent and technology.”

Launch collaborator Terra Schwartz, a cyber-security company specialising in strategic cyber services/products for defence and  national  security  clients,  have  leveraged  their  partnership  at  Launch  to  create  bespoke  cyber  security solutions, intelligence, wargaming design, and software development.

Terra Schwartz General Manager Amy Ormrod said that Launch, with its industry rated information security infrastructure and collaborative workspaces, has provided the ideal environment for her team to thrive.

“Launch on Northbourne offers us the necessary security and system requirements we need to provide for our clients in a collaborative and dynamic precinct,” Mrs Ormrod said.

“To be able to showcase our work today, in partnership with the other collaborators here at Launch is another example of how this unique facility promotes growth and innovation.”

Launch on Northbourne provides a working model of the UNSW Canberra Defence and Security Innovation Precinct, part of the future UNSW Canberra City campus. More information about the precinct can be found on the Launch on Northbourne website.

UNSW Canberra acknowledged as a Platinum Healthier Workplace

UNSW Canberra was recognised as a Platinum Healthier Workplace by the ACT Government at an awards ceremony this morning.

Healthier Work is a WorkSafe ACT program that was established to support local businesses to thrive as health promoting environments.

UNSW Canberra has achieved platinum recognition for consistently implementing health and wellbeing initiatives for four years.

ACT Work Health and Safety Commissioner Jacqueline Agius was on campus to present the award to Deputy Rector Harvinder Sidhu.

“Today is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate UNSW’s ongoing commitment to work health and safety, and also for taking part in the Healthier Work Program,” Ms Agius.

“Since joining the healthier work program in 2015, I know UNSW has implemented a range of initiatives.”

Professor Sidhu said it was an  honour to accept this trophy on behalf of UNSW Canberra.

“I note that we are in good company, joining organisations such as the National Archives of Australia, ActewAGL, and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, in achieving platinum status,” Professor Sidhu said.

“This trophy acknowledges the outstanding work done by our teams over the past four years to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff – driven by the Health, Safety & Facilities (HS&F) team in previous years and in 2020, the combined efforts of the HS&F, Human Resources and Equity & Diversity units.”

Over the years, the University’s initiatives have included a focus on encouraging staff to eat healthily, increase their physical activity, cut down on their alcohol use and stop smoking.

There have also been programs designed to enhance the social and emotional wellbeing of staff including workplace resilience workshops and regular yoga sessions.

“Of course, 2020 has been a more challenging year in many respects, with first the bushfires and now the pandemic,” Professor Sidhu said.

“We needed to do things a little differently this year, and we may need to change the way we do many things in the future.”

Ms Agius said workplaces have faced unprecedented challenges in 2020, with COVID-19 having a major impact on the day-to-day activities carried out by universities, in particular.

“Universities, probably more than anyone, have had to be dynamic in the way that they put in controls to ensure that everybody on campus is safe in relation to COVID-19,” Ms Agius said.

“UNSW has been agile, responsive and you have demonstrated a commitment to your staff, with the implementation of specific initiatives to support people working remotely.”

2020 health and wellbeing initiatives have also included monitoring our buildings for the impacts of bushfire smoke, safeguarding the health and safety of those who needed to remain on campus throughout the pandemic, safely providing staff flu vaccinations, and the roll out of the Mental Health First Aid Officer program.

Professor Sidhu said the University looked forward to continuing the initiative.

“UNSW Canberra has appreciated all the advice and support the Healthier Work team has been able to provide us in implementing our programs and we look forward to a continuing connection in the years ahead.”

Penten at Launch on Northbourne

Penten ready for Launch as anchor tenant

Penten at Launch on Northbourne

UNSW Canberra has welcomed local Canberra cyber security company Penten as the anchor tenant at the University’s new collaborative workspace precinct; Launch on Northbourne.

UNSW Canberra Rector, Professor Michael Frater said the concept of Launch is about the power of collaboration and Penten will be a leading contributor to the success of the collaborative model.

“Penten is a local Canberra company that has achieved great success having been recognised as Telstra’s 2018 Australian Business of the year as well as Australia Defence Industry’s 2019 Cyber business of the year.

“They also have a strong connection with UNSW Canberra; from advising and teaching into our cyber courses through to the staff they employ, with UNSW Canberra alumni being key members of the leadership team,” Professor Frater said.

“Penten is forward-thinking and innovative, working on future challenges that industry and Australia will face. I welcome them to Launch and am excited by the research and educational opportunities the collaboration will enable.”

Matthew Wilson, CEO of Penten said moving to Launch will enable the business to grow in a centrally located area that provides easy access for clients, industry partners and employees.

“The Launch collaboration space provides the opportunity to share ideas, resources and new methods of delivering capability in the defence, space and cyber industries,” Mr Wilson said.

Being part of a unique opportunity to contribute to the vibrant and growing community in Canberra, focused on Defence and national security, while sharing space with academia, government and industry partners was part of the appeal of the Launch concept.

“It also means being at the heart of innovation, which is something Penten strives to do,” Mr Wilson said.

ACT Minister for Advanced Technology and Space Industries, Mick Gentleman said Penten is a local success story, providing world-class sovereign defence and cyber capability and contributing to Canberra’s remarkable culture of innovation and excellence.

“It’s great to see companies like Penten continuing to grow here in Canberra. By working collaboratively alongside other organisations – like UNSW Canberra – our local advanced technology industries will be well placed to solve the cyber challenges of tomorrow.

“The ACT Government is committed to supporting our defence, space and cyber industries, which play a key role in diversifying the ACT economy, attracting more investment and creating more jobs for Canberra,” said Minister Gentleman.

Penten is an Australian cyber company focused on delivering defence and security technologies. It makes hardware and software cyber solutions to enable the modern war fighter and policy maker and give them the best advantage. In addition, the company creates secure mobility devices, encryption modules and automation tools to counter the adversary.

“Cyber security is a rapidly growing industry and defence is becoming more digital and connected. The future fight will include machine-on-machine conflict and we need to ensure Australia has world-leading defence and security technologies to tackle this challenge,” Mr Wilson said.

Launch on Northbourne was announced in December 2019 and is dedicated to the defence and security industries. It is a precursor to the larger Defence and Security Innovation Precinct, which will be established at UNSW Canberra’s new City campus.

The Precinct will facilitate new connections in the sector, fostering powerful collaborations and contributing to the advancement of Australia’s defence and security capabilities.

YoWIE group

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.”