Naj Aziz

Fellow of the University

Citation delivered by Mr Harold Hanson AM, Chair of the Honorary Alumni Chapter, University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Naj Aziz as Fellows of the University on 5 December 2013.

Chancellor, I present Naj Aziz.

We are honoured this evening to celebrate the achievements of Naj Aziz, a true man of the world. Originally from Kirkuk in Iraq, Naj graduated with his Higher Education Entry Baccalaureate Certificate and moved to Lancashire in the UK. There he completed his General Certificate of Education, before moving to Cardiff in Wales to undertake further studies. Naj graduated with his Diploma in Metalliferous Mining in 1967; his Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering (Honours) in 1968; and went on to complete his PhD in Mining Engineering at the University of Wales, with a specialisation in rock mechanics in 1978.

Naj Aziz arrived at the University of Wollongong in August 1981, as the inaugural mining engineering appointment in what was then the Department of Civil & Mining Engineering. He built the mining engineering program from the ground up, advising on the appointments of the teaching team and the curriculum, and, for 14 years, was the Course Coordinator for the Mining Engineering degree. Since its inception, the mining engineering program at UOW has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the largest mining cohorts in Australia with current first year enrolments approaching 60 students and an excellent international reputation.

Naj’s research interests are many and varied and include rock bolting, dust control and roof support systems, in which fields the University is a leader. Naj was instrumental in establishing the only Australian university research laboratory for mining gas and outburst control here at UOW. He has received significant funding from industry and the Australian Coal Association Research Program for his work and is widely acknowledged for his significant contribution to safety and productivity in the Australian coal industry.

Naj is a passionate and devoted teacher. Despite retiring five years ago, he continues to volunteer his time five days a week to mentor and teach mining students, who adore him for his abiding commitment to the science of mining engineering and his personal approach to each of them. Among his fondest memories are the annual five-day field trips he arranges to Cobar and Broken Hill to visit mines and take plant tours, giving his students first-hand experiences of mining technologies and their environments. Naj has even been known to take on the job of bus driver!

One of Naj’s proudest achievements has been his role as Chair of the Annual Australian Coal Operators Conference. Held at UOW every year since 1988, the conference brings together top industry representatives and researchers to discuss the latest developments and initiatives in all areas of coal mining. Organised jointly with the Illawarra Branch of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Mine Managers Association of Australia, the conference draws large audiences comprised of local and international experts in mining and geoscience.

Naj is also a digital pioneer who has created the first comprehensive digital library for the coal mining industry. In collaboration with the University of Wollongong Library and hosted by Research Online, the COAL Operators Conference website contains links to every conference paper presented at the conference since its inception in 1998.
Chancellor, for his dedication and commitment to fostering the University’s national and international prestige in mining engineering over three decades, it gives me great pleasure to present Naj Aziz for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.