A team of students headed to Jakarta, Indonesia, to help map seasonal floods in the city as its monsoon season peaked. The group of 10 was the second student team to travel to the city of 28 million people to work on the PetaJakarta.org project, which is powered by an open source geosocial intelligence framework known as CogniCity developed at UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. PetaJakarta.org aims to empower citizens of Jakarta to report instances of flooding to the Jakarta Disaster Management Agency (BPBD, DKI Jakarta).
A report in January highlighted how computer science graduate Sam Dunster (pictured below) got his foot in the door at the social media giant Facebook via a 12- week production engineer internship in Menlo Park, California, USA. Sam, whose fascination with computers began at the age of eight, relocated to the USA in February and entered Facebook Engineering Bootcamp. During this introductory period, Sam was afforded the time to get to know the company’s processes and ethos and discover where he fits in best among the company’s army of engineers.
Professor Mohamed Salem was named as the new President of University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD). A former IBM software engineer turned higher education leader, Professor Salem has a long-term commitment to the region and to UOWD, having held various positions at the University, including Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences. Professor Salem had been acting in the role since April 2014. As President of UOWD, Professor Salem also holds the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Middle East and North Africa) reporting to the Deputy Vice- Chancellor (Global Strategy) Professor Joe Chicharo.
A delegation from China’s largest steel manufacturer, Baosteel, visited the University of Wollongong in February to discuss future research collaboration opportunities. Dr Laizhu Jiang, Vice President of the Baosteel Research Institute, confirmed that it would extend the Baosteel-Australia Joint Research and Development Centre for another five years with an investment of $2 million per year. Baosteel has been undertaking research and development work with UOW researchers since 2007.
One of Australia’s most distinguished former military officers NSW Governor The Hon David Hurley and his wife, Linda, visited UOW’s Bega Campus to meet staff and students. The Governor said he was keenly interested to learn about and support initiatives in youth education, Indigenous education and what is being done to support regional and rural NSW.
Staff gathered on the McKinnon Lawn of UOW on 19 February to celebrate UOW’s 40 Years of Independence. They listened to jazz and perused photos from the past 40 years at the garden-party The year at UOW style event. Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings, CBE, noted that it was important to celebrate such milestones and remember how far the University has come since it was established in 1975. Professor Wellings acknowledged the support of the community and local industry which were instrumental in raising money and support for the college that UOW grew out of.
UOW's best and brightest computer science students learned of the opportunities to become ‘Googlers’ when the tech giant visited the campus in March. Representatives from Google hosted two sessions aimed at showcasing the scholarship, internship and other placement opportunities for undergraduate students. They also heard from Google employees, including UOW bachelor of telecommunications engineering graduate and now Google Maps product manager Nabil Naghdy about their jobs and experiences as well as from current students who are Google ambassadors.
A study released in March revealed one of southern Sydney’s most expensive waterfront suburbs was harbouring trace metals. It was the first comprehensive study in almost 20 years to investigate sediment pollution in the Georges River and Port Hacking. The study was conducted by environmental scientist Yasir Al Yazichi from UOW and published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
UOW’s commitment to collaborating with talented mid-career researchers from around the world was advanced with the announcement in April of the first 10 outstanding academics to visit UOW under the Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholar Awards (VISA) Scheme. The new scheme provides funding to support 40 such scholars over the next four years from the UK, USA, Asia and Europe to work at UOW on real world problems for two to six months.
The memory of the ANZACs who served in the First World War is being kept alive with university scholarships. It was announced in April that the Illawarra Centenary of ANZAC Scholarship, worth $5,000 a year for three years from 2015, will be offered to first year students who are direct descendants of Australian or New Zealand WWI veterans or those who have served in the Australian Defence Force, including the Reserves. The Illawarra Centenary of ANZAC Committee announced the scholarships to mark the 100th anniversary of the declaration of World War 1.
A Community Fellowship Award was bestowed upon Lifeline South Coast on 13 May at the organisation’s annual Volunteer Recognition lunch during National Volunteer Week. Lifeline South Coast is the inaugural recipient of this prestigious award. Director of Advancement Monique Harper- Richardson said the award acknowledges the life-saving work done by Lifeline South Coast as well as its 20 year long relationship with the University. Chancellor Ms Jillian Broadbent, AO, admitted Lifeline South Coast to the inaugural Community Fellowship Award in front of more than 200 Lifeline South Coast supporters.
UOW’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) is the first certified 6 Star Green Star building in the Illawarra. The Green Building Council of Australia Green Star rating system evaluates the sustainable design, construction and operations of buildings and communities. The SBRC was awarded a 6 Star Green Star – Education Design v1 certified rating, which represents ‘World Leadership’ in environmentally sustainable design practices. SBRC was made possible through a contribution of $25.1 million from the Australian Government’s Education Investment Fund and $1.2 million from the NSW State Government.
Researchers at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) based at UOW contributed to the first-ever pharmaceutical trial on a shingles vaccine. The study which was published in the world’s top clinical journal the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the vaccine, developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was 97 per cent successful in protecting older people from developing shingles, compared to the placebo. The IHMRI Clinical Research and Trials Unit, which was established in 2010, is one of several centres around the world to contribute to the ZOE-50 study that involved over 15,500 patients aged 50 and older.
A record 19 women, including UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Judy Raper, appeared in the 2015 Top 100 Most Influential Engineers in Australia list. It was the third year in succession that Professor Raper, a chemical engineer, has been recognised on the list. She joined graduate engineers Mark Cutifani (Anglo American), Bronwyn Evans (Standards Australia) and Dr Alex Zelinsky (Defence Science and Technology Organisation). The list also featured Grant King (Origin Energy) who was awarded a Master of Management degree at UOW in 1987 and Professor Mary O’Kane (NSW Chief Scientist) who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from UOW in 2013. A member of the Top 100 Advisory Panel for 2015 was Professor Alex Baitch who is an honorary professorial fellow of UOW. Professor Baitch was recognised in the Top 100 list in 2014.
Australia’s literary culture was at the forefront of the inaugural Australian Literary Studies Convention held at UOW from 7-11 July. The landmark literary studies event brought together for the first time several of the major Australian literary studies organisations to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of literary studies in this country. The convention attracted 225 paper givers and about 250 delegates. It served as the 2015 annual conference for the Australasian Association for Literature (AAL), Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) and Australasian Universities Language and Literature Association (AULLA).
The most sophisticated early childhood teaching, research and community engagement initiative ever undertaken in Australia was officially opened by Australia’s then Minister for Social Services the Hon Scott Morrison MP on 8 July at UOW. Early Start consists of a $44 million transformational infrastructure investment together with a continuing commitment from UOW and its partners. The Early Start initiative is focused on creating educational programs, experiences and networks that enrich the way we understand and interact with children, families and communities. It involves a partnership with 41 early childhood education and care centres across NSW and the ACT who are helping to inform and pioneer innovation in the early years and translate research into practice. It also consists of the Early Start Discovery Space – Australia’s only dedicated ‘children’s museum’ promoting learning through play and the importance of lifelong learning.
UOW’s place as a leading international higher education provider was further strengthened after winning the prestigious 2015 Hong Kong – Australia Business Association (NSW Chapter) Awards, which recognise NSW companies striving for excellence in international trade with Hong Kong. The announcement was made just weeks after UOW became the first ever overseas-based comprehensive university to enter Hong Kong when it was selected by City University of Hong Kong—following an exhaustive international search—to take custodianship of the Community College of City University Hong Kong (CCCU) and develop it into an internationally accredited degree-offering institution.
More than 9,000 visitors from across NSW and the ACT descended on Wollongong on 15 August to experience university life at the annual UOW Open Day. The Open Day featured more than 80 information sessions, including dedicated postgraduate sessions, to help thousands of potential students explore university life. Among the information sessions were those featuring new degrees introduced this year, the Bachelor of Social Sciences and Bachelor of Social Work, as well as the Bachelor of Pre-Medicine, Science and Health, which starts in 2016. The University’s Sydney Business School Open Day was held later in the month on 29 August.
UOW’s research credentials and standing among the top two per cent of world universities were further strengthened by the release of the Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU). The results revealed UOW’s international standing had improved from its previous ranking of 329th to 262nd. Also called the Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings after the Chinese university that publishes them, the ARWU has ranked the world’s top 500 universities annually according to a transparent methodology and reliable data since 2003. It was UOW’s best ever ranking in the table, moving the University into a higher ranking bracket and from 13th in Australia to 10th place behind the Group of Eight universities and Macquarie University. UOW’s elevation in the highly-respected global ranking reflects an increase in the number of its researchers being cited by academics around the world.
UOW outperformed all other universities in the country to score the highest number of star ratings following the official release of national statistics in the 2016 Good Universities Guide. UOW scored an impressive 50 stars across the Guide’s various categories – three stars clear of our nearest metropolitan-based university rival. UOW’s teaching quality was awarded a five-star rating along with a national recognition that graduates also have a five-star chance of getting a full-time job at the end of their studies. It is the 15th year in a row that UOW has received five stars for graduates getting a full time job.
UOW’s newest professors shared their potentially world-changing research at the second Big Ideas Festival, attended by over 400 people, on Tuesday 25 August. The festival saw 12 of the University’s recently promoted and appointed professors sharing their research with the public and industry. Interactive research stalls, live music and networking drinks capped off two sessions of short 10-minute talks on a range of topics, from 3D printed edible robots to deciding when children are to blame for their actions.
UOW made one of the biggest jumps among the world’s universities in the QS World University Rankings capping off a year of significant ranking successes for UOW. The 2015 QS World University Rankings, officially announced from Glasgow, Scotland, saw UOW surge from its 2014 ranking of 283rd to 243rd -- a rise of 40 places representing one of the biggest improvements of any university. UOW also fared well in the employer ranking—a measure of how much employers value UOW graduates—being placed at 119th in the world and 8th in Australia. The citations rating—a measure of how often the work of UOW researchers is cited around the world—also placed UOW as 8th in Australia, ranking 195th internationally. The QS faculty rankings also revealed big improvements for UOW. Its natural sciences ranking jumped 97 places from 298th to 201st, social sciences and management improved 81 places from 259th to 178th while engineering and technology jumped 45 places from 208th to 163rd.
A host of world experts into the formative early years of a child’s life attended the inaugural Early Start conference at UOW from 28-30 September. It was hailed as the most significant conference of its kind ever held in Australia with a total of 11 countries represented, 102 presentations given and about 630 delegates in attendance. The conference theme was ‘Improving Children’s Lives: Translating Research for Practice, Policy and Community’.
The President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, Professor Rosalind Croucher, AM, presented this year’s Goldring Memorial Lecture. In 2014 Professor Croucher was acknowledged for her contributions to public policy as one of Australia’s ‘100 Women of Influence’ in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac awards. The Goldring Lecture honours Jack Goldring (1943-2009) who was UOW’s Foundation Dean of Law from 1990 to 1995 and was subsequently appointed as a Judge of the District Court of NSW. Jack also served as a Commissioner of the Australian Law Reform Commission and the NSW Law Reform Commission.
A gala Fellowship and Alumni Awards Dinner was held in the University Hall on 8 October to celebrate and award four new University Fellowships and the 2015 UOW Alumni Awards. His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Linda Hurley were among the 350 guests in attendance. The evening also marked the University’s 40 years of independence.