With its ‘research powerhouse’ reputation – particularly in mathematics, advanced engineering and neuroscience – it makes perfect sense for UQ to join forces with Boeing, a company also renowned for research and development activities that have been critical to its 100 years of aerospace leadership.
In a first for the Asia-Pacific region, a team of more than 30 engineers from Boeing Research & Technology Australia (BR&T–A) is relocating from its Brisbane headquarters to a specially designed research centre at UQ’s St Lucia campus this year.
To be housed in the Hawken Building, the heart of the University’s engineering hub, the BR&T–A Brisbane Technology Centre will be conveniently located near other specialist research groups of interest to the aviation industry, including the Queensland Brain Institute, where bird flight-patterns are being analysed for possible unmanned aircraft system application, and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, home to several sustainable fuels project teams and polymer researchers.
UQ graduate and former NASA fellow in the US, Dr Jason Armstrong (Bachelor of Science ’89, Bachelor of Science (Honours) ’90, Master of Science ’92), who heads the BR&T–A Brisbane Technology Centre, believes the partnership will benefit all.
“From Boeing’s perspective, we will have a customised work environment featuring adaptable space and advanced technology,” Armstrong said.
“More importantly, we will enhance our access to UQ’s world-class researchers in engineering, human movement, neuroscience, chemistry, physics and psychology, as well as investigators in software and hardware components."
“And we hope that by being located in a high-traffic area on campus, we will attract interest from students who may then work in our industry and/or undertake high-level study in the fields of aerospace.”
The collaboration means that academic research will be effectively translated to industry – a great boon for its relevance when applying for funding – and UQ students will also continue to benefit from the PhD scholarships and undergraduate internships Boeing offers.
“We will be putting meat on the bones of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, which suggests that we must ‘embrace new ideas and harness new sources of growth to deliver the next age of economic prosperity’,” Armstrong said.
On a day-to-day basis, Boeing‘s presence at UQ will be a showcase for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) projects, involving not just Boeing researchers, but UQ students and staff too.
Topics already being investigated include a study of human factors in the flight deck and simulator technologies for future training approaches with Professor Stephan Riek, and Professor Paul Meehan’s work on incremental sheet forming, which, as an advanced manufacturing technology, has demonstrated high potential to shape complex three-dimensional parts without using specific high-cost tooling.
As a fully functioning industry workspace, the new BR&T–A Brisbane Technology Centre will demonstrate the realities of aerospace research and will provide opportunities for UQ staff and students to experience it first-hand.
“We are very pleased to be able to embed this BR&T–A Brisbane Technology Centre at UQ St Lucia, which will complement our other sites, including the Brisbane Airport Boeing Flight Training facility and CBD Boeing locations which perform technical work,” Armstrong said.
To learn more about Boeing Research & Technology Australia, visit boeing.com.au.