Engineering Future Leaders

The Engineering Future Leaders program responds to growing demand for graduate researchers with the technical expertise and interdisciplinary know-how to drive industry transformation.

About the program

Coordinated by Deakin University’s School of Engineering, the initiative connects PhD candidates with academic supervisors and industry partners to provide a dynamic experience that includes rigorous graduate training, internships and professional development.

Deakin University provides unique opportunities to work with global leaders in advanced manufacturing, materials science and renewable energy based at its Geelong Future Economy Precinct in Waurn Ponds, which integrates high-level research capabilities with state-of-the-art equipment and industrial-scale infrastructure.

How we set you up for success

Engineering Future Leaders candidates are honed to become entrepreneurial thought leaders who can push the boundaries of knowledge and process to solve real-world problems and deliver sustainable industry outcomes.

Engagement with major industry players and government agencies is bolstered by professional leadership training in change management, strategic decision making, relationship building, business skills and people management.

Engineering Future Leaders builds on Deakin University’s outstanding reputation for engineering inquiry and innovation. In 2018 the Australian Research Council’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) ranked 100 per cent of the School of Engineering’s research output at ‘above’ or ‘well above world standard’ (ERA rating 4 or 5). Research in electrical and electronic, manufacturing and materials engineering rated in the top category (ERA rating 5) and mechanical engineering was awarded an ERA rating 4.

Study a PhD at Deakin

PhD graduate Tim de Souza’s passion for pushing the boundaries and his hands-on approach to problem solving led him to study an industry PhD with Deakin. Find out how the Deakin difference got him through.

2020 scholarships

The Engineering Future Leaders program is funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources with sponsorship from industry partners including CSIRO, Ford Australia, AusNet Services, Novelis, the Cooperative Research Centre for Rail Innovation, and the Australian Government Department of Defence, Science and Technology (DST).

Three-year industry-supported scholarships covering tuition fees and an annual stipend of up to $40,000 are available to outstanding domestic applicants (including candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship) in the following areas:

  • structural optimisation
  • transport systems
  • biomedical engineering (biofluid mechanics)
  • hydrogen and energy generation
  • material fabrication and forming.

To apply for one of the scholarships below, please contact the relevant supervisor/s directly.

Designing vehicles for autonomy – understanding safety and performance of novel vehicle structures

Industry partner

Ford Motor Company (Ford Australia)

Supervisor names and emails

Prof. Bernard Rolfe 
bernard.rolfe@deakin.edu.au

Dr Kazem Ghabraie 
kazem.ghabraie@deakin.edu.au

Project description

There is an urgent need to change Australian vehicle design practices to remain competitive in the face of autonomous vehicle disruption. Autonomous vehicles will disrupt the automotive sector with their dual private and public uses. Vehicles will be able to earn money while their owners are at work, which will demand alterations to interior configurations with an increasing emphasis on working spaces, and separation of private and public spaces. These changes will require an understanding of the structural implications of new configurations on passengers and an appreciation of the new ways they interact with vehicles.

The project will be conducted with Ford Australia, which retains a significant local design, engineering and testing presence with design responsibility for global platforms. The successful candidate will engage Ford engineers and meet regularly with personnel from the Research and Innovation Centre in Michigan (US).

Project aim

To inform Australian vehicle design practices based on insights into the structural implications of autonomous vehicle interior configurations on passengers; and the ways that passengers interact with the vehicles.

Designing vehicles for electrification – understanding integrated battery structures

Industry partner

Ford Motor Company (Ford Australia)

Supervisor names and emails

Prof. Bernard Rolfe 
bernard.rolfe@deakin.edu.au

Dr Kazem Ghabraie
kazem.ghabraie@deakin.edu.au

Project description

Australian vehicle design practices must change to remain competitive in the face of fully electric vehicle disruption. To maintain sustainability and quality of life, many cities are beginning to legislate for extended clean air regions – a move that will clear these areas of pollution from internal combustion engines and increase demand for electric vehicles. This will necessitate research into battery placement and their effect on overall performance, and will require a deeper understanding of the structural implications of new battery configurations.

The project will be conducted with Ford Australia, which retains a significant local design, engineering and testing presence with design responsibility for global platforms. The successful candidate will engage Ford engineers and meet regularly with personnel from the Research and Innovation Centre in Michigan (US).

Project aim

To inform Australian vehicle design practices based on fresh insights into the structural implications of new battery configurations in electric vehicles.

Flameless oxidation and hydrogen-in-mix for power and heat generation

Industry partner

CSIRO

Supervisor names and emails

A/Prof. Farid Christo
farid.christo@deakin.edu.au

Dr Jorg Schulter
jorg.schluter@deakin.edu.au

Project description

Improving thermal efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas and hazardous emissions, and increasing materials durability in industrial kilns, calciners, furnaces and gas turbines (GT) are critical to sustainability of the transport, power generation and process sectors. However, the complex interdependency between the requirements for thermal efficiency, durability and emissions makes this a scientifically and technologically challenging endeavour that necessitates a fundamental understanding of the physics of flow, chemistry, multiphase flow dynamics, and thermal radiation phenomena. Developing a deeper understanding of the complex reactive and radiative physics of hydrogen-in-mix burners for industrial applications is particularly difficult. This project will utilise advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling tools to predict the flow, temperature, species, radiation, and emission characteristics of industrial power and heat systems. The focus will be on utilising numerical models to investigate and design hydrogen-in-mix burners for high-temperature processes (HTP), and flameless oxidation systems for GT engines. It will involve both fundamental and applied research: first to gain an understanding of the physico-chemical mechanisms involved in the integration of hydrogen into existing industrial burners and flameless oxidation processes; and secondly to apply this knowledge in the design of practical burners for HTP systems and GT engines.

This is an exciting challenge that suits an ambitious, curiosity-driven researcher who is looking to work at the leading edge of energy technology.

Project aim

To design practical burners for HTP systems and GT engines based on a sound understanding of the physico-chemical mechanisms involved in the integration of hydrogen into existing industrial burners and flameless oxidation processes.

Ultra-lean, ultra-low emission hydrogen burners

Industry partner

TBC

Supervisor names and emails

A/Prof. Farid Christo
farid.christo@deakin.edu.au

Dr Jorg Schulter
jorg.schluter@deakin.edu.au

Project description

A significant amount of heat is wasted in many heat and power generation systems. While heat recirculation and heat recovery are used in numerous applications, maximising the sensible heat recovery is often limited by the quality of the heat and is constrained by efforts to avoid a secondary combustion process to minimise hazardous (CO and NOx) emissions. The proposed research focuses on utilising hydrogen injection into hot combustion gases. To avoid safety issues related to hydrogen combustion (stemming from its high reactivity), an ultra-lean mixture will be used as an alternative. To burn hydrogen at a concentration beneath its lower flamelet limits, it is proposed that the mixture should be burnt in porous media. The concept of porous burner technology has been successfully demonstrated for methane and installed in industrial-scale systems but has not yet been verified for hydrogen. Ultra-low CO and NOx emissions are a signature of porous burners which are effectively premixed combustion with well-defined and constant stoichiometry. In a recent numerical study (not yet published), Christo has shown the feasibility of ultra-lean hydrogen combustion in a multi-layered porous media.

This project will use advanced numerical methods to predict the flow, temperature, species, radiation and emission characteristics of premixed hydrogen hot gas combustion in porous media. The study could also include burner design and testing with an emphasis on selecting suitable porous materials. The project requires developing an understanding of the fundamentals of combustion and strong knowledge in numerical simulations.

This is an exciting challenge that suits an ambitious, curiosity-driven researcher who is looking to work at the leading edge of energy technology.

Project aim

To predict the flow, temperature, species, radiation and emission characteristics of premixed hydrogen hot gas combustion in porous media using advanced numerical methods with a view to burner design and testing based on selection of suitable porous materials.

Experimental and numerical analysis of nasal cavity flow and inhaled particulates

Industry partner

TBC

Supervisor name and email

Dr Sara Vahaji
sara.vahaji@deakin.edu.au

Project description

Understanding the flow and particulate dynamics of inhaled droplets through the nasal cavity is critical for efficient and effective design of drug delivery inhalers. There are numerous inhaler products in the market, however most fail to deliver droplets into the targeted regions. Alongside the experimental investigation, this project aims to develop realistic geometry and injection conditions in the nasal cavity. It will help to understand complex transient flow and particulate patterns to optimise inhaler design and the manner in which they should be used to maximise drug delivery effectiveness.

Advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models will be the key design and optimisation tools utilised. Full 3D-CAD models of a human nasal cavity have been obtained from CT images of actual patients and from a generic humanoid model. More patient-dependent models will be produced during the candidature to potentially provide statistical analysis and medical advice. An experimental study using PIV imaging and other sampling techniques will also be carried out on a surrogate nasal cavity. Results will be used to validate the numerical model and demonstrate the fidelity of numerical predictions.

Project aim

To optimise design of inhalers and their use to maximise drug delivery effectiveness based on an improved understanding of complex transient flow and particulate patterns of inhaled droplets through the nasal cavity.

Understanding micro mechanisms in plane strain bending deformation of automotive, high-strength aluminium alloys

Industry partner

Novelis

Supervisor names and emails

Dr Thomas Dorin
thomas.dorin@deakin.edu.au

Dr Matthias Weiss
matthias.weiss@deakin.edu.au

Dr Mariana Paulino
mariana.paulino@deakin.edu.au

Project description

Novelis is the world leader in rolled aluminium products and recycling, and the largest global producer of automotive sheet. To build on weight saving initiatives from the automotive industry, Novelis is exploring roll forming as a potential manufacturing route for aluminium automotive parts. Roll forming is an incremental bend forming process that has been extensively studied to form high strength steel, however very little work has been carried out on the roll formability of high strength aluminium alloys. Recent work performed by Deakin University as part of a small-scale seed project with Novelis showed that conventional design rules developed for steel do not apply to aluminium. The study confirmed a clear mismatch between the tensile uniform elongation/total elongation and the bend forming limit of high strength aluminium. This suggests that to achieve high fracture limits in bending, the optimum alloy composition, heat treatment and microstructure is likely different to that required for high tensile ductility. Further, significant wrinkling occurred when roll forming the high aluminium alloys and this could not be reproduced by numerical models developed for steel. Initial results indicated that residual stresses and/or microstructure effects in aluminium strip reduce bending yield strength and may lead to a lower buckling limit in aluminium compared to steel.

To enable widespread application of high strength, roll formed aluminium components in the automotive industry, new alloy design approaches must be developed that target forming limits in bending instead of uniaxial tension. Reliable material models also must be established for CAD and FEA supported process design, and the micromechanics that underpin fracture limits and wrinkling behaviour must be understood.

Project aim

To develop a fundamental understanding of microstructure effects on the material behaviour and forming limits of aluminium in bending dominated forming to support its potential use in the production of aluminium automotive parts.

There are three major objectives:

  1. Develop a fundamental understanding of the relationship between microstructure and fracture limits in bending, tension and roll forming.
  2. Establish numerical and analytical models for process design.
  3. Develop microstructure optimisation strategies to improve roll formability.

The study will establish the microstructural mechanisms that control the plane strain behaviour of 6xxx-series aluminium alloys. This knowledge will be used to better understand practical forming limits in roll forming aluminium alloys and will provide strategies to avoid defects such as wrinkling.

Get in touch for more information

Bernard Rolfe
Professor Advanced Manufacturing (Mechanical)
School of Engineering
Phone: +61 (0)3 5227 2417
Email: bernard.rolfe@deakin.edu.au