ARC support pivotal
Support from the Australian Research Council (ARC's) has helped Deakin University's Professor Peter Hodgson build a career as one of the country's most successful research leaders.
Professor Hodgson, whose work is being featured on the ARC website, was Deakin University's first Federation Fellow and then Victoria's first Australian Laureate Fellow.
Both these scheme are run by the ARC.
"I think the senior fellows programs within the ARC - the Federation Fellowships and the Australian Laureate Fellowships - have for the first time given a serious alternative career path especially for people who can lead large research teams," said Professor Hodgson, the inaugural director of Deakin's Institute for Frontier Materials..
"Because if you have got those leadership skills, there are a lot of enticements to become a Dean or a DVC Research.
"While that is not a bad thing, it does mean that many of our top scientists who can lead and grow research teams have gone into administration.
"Certainly in my case, it has allowed me to stay in what I like doing - building the next generation of researchers, working closely with industry and really trying to engage in innovation rather than just straight R&D."
Professor Hodgson said his ARC support had also helped create new products and industries, including the establishment of facilities in both the United State and Australia.
"[My research] started out initially with a SPIRT grant, involving BHP SteelCastrol and the Ford Motor Company, that grew into an ARC Linkage grant involving HARD Technologies," he said.
"It was initially aimed at reducing tool wear by using novel surface treatments and improved lubricants. This then flowed into ways to improve die-casting and increase the productivity of aluminium extrusion, and we had some success which then allowed us to develop things further via an AusIndustry grant."
HARD Technologies Pty Ltd is a metallurgical-based research and development organisation working in partnership with Deakin University and the Victorian Centre for Advanced Manufacturing (VCAMM). Recent support for this research has occurred through the CRC program with the Advanced Manufacturing CRC, with some aspects supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals.
Last year, HARD Technologies opened a new factory in Altona, in Victoria, with a plant specifically designed for duplex surface treatments of ferrous and nonferrous metals. The new duplex surface treatments have features that can be used to improve the quality and performance of metal parts including lower processing temperatures, minimum distortion, increased wear and corrosion resistance, improved fatigue performance, and lower operating costs.
"This all came from the seed of an idea and good people all initially supported through the ARC," Professor Hodgson said.
"This program has allowed our researchers at Deakin to work with industry in really innovative ways with a number of other partnerships developed over the past 15 years."