Associate Professor Bre-Anne Sainsbury. Image courtesy Monash University.

Associate Professor Bre-Anne Sainsbury. Image courtesy Monash University.

WOODSIDE will contribute $10 million over five years to an Innovation hub at Monash University, aiming to advance research in materials engineering, additive manufacturing and data science.

Monash researchers and Woodside engineers will develop and test prototypes in the laboratory, aiming to lead to new applications for the energy and other industries, the groups said in a joint announcement.

Woodside senior vice president and chief technology officer Shaun Gregory said the centre added to the company’s existing FutureLabs network at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

“Launched last year, our FutureLabs are building an ecosystem of scientific and technological innovation through collaborations with research institutions, start-ups, entrepreneurs and adjacent leading industries,” he said.

“We are really excited about collaborating with researchers and experts from Monash to identify opportunities to solve real-life challenges we face at Woodside.”

Monash deputy vice chancellor and dean of the engineering and information technologies Frieder Seible said the three focus areas of the innovation centre were important drivers for innovation today.

“Monash engineering and information technology research and expertise is leading in all three areas, in particular in the additive manufacturing of duplex and super duplex stainless steels,” he said.

“In addition, Monash has Australia’s most advanced 3D visualisation environment for fully immersive analytics of big data sets.

These leading capabilities provide Woodside engineers, embedded at the centre’s lab, the opportunity to transfer that technology back to the workplace.”

Among the assets of the new facility is a selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printer – the most precise and dimensionally correct 3D printer available – capable of manufacturing components used in oil and gas plants.

“Through this partnership, we will train the next generation of exceptional engineers and IT professionals to deal with tomorrow’s challenges and advances,” professor Seible said.

The news came as Monash launched its resources engineering degree, allowing undergraduates to specialise in oil and gas engineering, mining engineering, geological engineering or renewable energy engineering.

Two years of the four year degree will be common for all enrolled students before a specialty must be chosen, enabling students to get a better understanding of the industry before deciding which option to pursue.

Speaking with Oil & Gas Australia, course director Bre-Anne Sainsbury said the common second year would focus on project risk and safety management and fixed plant engineering – subjects which were found across all four sectors.

“There is a significant change in people’s ideas about what sort of engineering they want to do once they get to university – historically we have had a pretty strong amount of students changing from one stream to another, so this probably just gives them a little more diversity before they get locked in,” she said.

Associate professor Sainsbury said the course would engage with industry on multiple levels in the third and fourth years of the degree to ensure that students are at the forefront of technological advances.

“Monash has a very strong relationship with Woodside, and they have been the impetus for most of what we have done in that space at the moment, but we are currently in the process of signing up industry partners and industry education partners and lecturers,” she said.

“Our industry education partners will provide practicing engineering professionals to help us deliver current and dynamic content, to ensure our graduates are relevant and industry ready.”

“It’s a new way of teaching, in that we’re embracing and including all Engineering and science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines,” she added.

“We’re delivering course content from each engineering department at Monash, and across several other faculties, dipping into their science and business expertise.”