Swinburne aims high

Specialists at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology are already working on an interplanetary refuelling station on the Moon and vastly improved satellite-imaging technology: just two of the projects in stream at the university’s new Space Technology and Industry Institute, launched today.

The institute will gather world-class capabilities in astrophysics, aerospace, aviation, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and education to tackle the challenges of future space exploration – a sector that’s generating economic growth – it’s projected to be worth $1 trillion globally by 2040 – in addition to technological innovation.

Swinburne’s also anticipating that the institute will inspire learning from vocational training to PhD level.

The institute’s leader will be Alan Duffy, renowned astronomer, science communicator and Lead Scientist of the Royal Institution of Australia – the not-for-profit owner of this website and Cosmos magazine.

“Space has always been a fascination from me, as my writing for the Royal Institution of Australia makes clear, [and] now being able to help bridge the expertise within Swinburne to the needs of partners outside is a joy,” says Duffy.

“I couldn’t be happier to lead our university in finding ways for industries and communities to solve their problems on Earth by using the technologies from space. Building for space brings together the very best of engineering and science to brave the challenges at the final frontier.”

Duffy, who was recently named Academic of the Year at the Australian Space Awards, says the institute is an important step forward in the ongoing growth and development of the growing Australian space industry.

“Space research, technology and education is, like the Universe itself, incredibly complex and interdependent. It requires close collaboration, targeted investment and new ways of working to succeed. Australia has the potential to be a global leader in space research and technology, as well as teaching the brightest minds.

“I’m delighted to be uniting the efforts of my colleagues at Swinburne to help achieve this and make that next big breakthrough,” he adds.

Swinburne Vice Chancellor Pascale Quester says research and education into space technologies and their terrestrial applications had extraordinary potential for both economic and social impact.

“Our end-to-end coverage of R&D, as well as developing the people and skills needed to build new space industries of the future, means that Swinburne is perfectly positioned to enter a new frontier in space discovery and innovation,” Quester says.

“We have all the experience, equipment and thirst for knowledge under one roof to help our industry partners move into this market and capitalise on the vast potential of space.”

Swinburne Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Enterprise Bronwyn Fox highlights the institute’s potential to collaborate with industry to build lighter, stronger and cheaper materials with faster production enabled by cutting-edge additive manufacturing processes.

“We’re opening up a world of possibilities to expand our stellar capabilities and the new institute will make the most of our globally recognised expertise in digitalisation and materials engineering,” Fox says. “We are in the midst of a space revolution, and Australia has a unique opportunity to emerge as a major player in the global space market.”

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