Photo: Dr Jonathan Binns inside the AMC Towing Tank, which has undertaken tests on more than 500 models of ships and other ocean-going structures, such as submarines, submersibles and offshore oil rigs since its commissioning in the mid-1980s. Photo: Will Swan

Australia’s ambitious multi-billion dollar naval shipbuilding program is set to become the largest commitment this nation has ever made to defence, comprising the design and manufacture of new fleets of submarines, future frigates and patrol boats.

The success of these major projects relies on training highly qualified engineers to solve key research and development questions.

This year, the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania officially launched the ARC Training Centre for Transforming Australia’s Naval Manufacturing Industry. The $3.8 million centre, funded through the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme, will enable the naval manufacturing industry to innovate more rapidly.

Chief investigator Dr Jonathan Binns said the centre would feed into the naval manufacturing industry by creating a new cohort of industry-focused, broadly skilled engineers and researchers.

“The project provides an opportunity for 10 higher-degree research students and three postdoctoral fellows to undertake a combination of research and professional training in an industrial environment,” Dr Binns said. “These researchers will focus on developing advanced techniques to efficiently design, construct and sustain the naval platforms, providing significant economic benefits to the nation.”

Each student and postdoctoral fellow will work on a specific industry-driven research project, in collaboration with researchers from the three universities and two government organisations involved in the partnership.

AMC Principal Professor Neil Bose said the project would have far-reaching benefits.

‘These researchers will focus on developing advanced techniques to efficiently design, construct and sustain the naval platforms.’

“Significant economic benefits from developing advanced techniques to efficiently design, construct and sustain naval platforms will impact the defence, social and economic welfare of Australia. Projects include the future submarines, whose construction will be Australia’s largest engineering project,” Professor Bose said.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Tasmania, University of Wollongong, Flinders University, ASC Pty Ltd, INCAT Tasmania Pty Ltd, Babcock International Group, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Defence Materials Technology Centre, Thales Australia Ltd and PMB Defence Engineering Pty Ltd.

The ARC’s Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme aims to foster close partnerships between university researchers and other research end-users to provide innovative higher degree and postdoctoral training in industries vital to Australia’s future.

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