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Curtin University
Note to staff

31 August 2015


Fireballs in the Sky wins national award

Congratulations to Professor Phil Bland and his team on the ongoing success of the Fireballs in the Sky app, which won the national iAward in the education category last week.  The iAwards were established in 1984, to recognise and celebrate achievements and innovation in ICT across all areas of the economy.

Over 20 000 people have now downloaded the app, and the project was also a nominee in the recent Premier’s Science Awards.

Australia-India Joint Research Centre for Coal and Energy Technology

Curtin University and the Indian School of Mines have agreed to establish and operate the Australia-India Joint Research Centre for Coal and Energy Technology. Curtin is the leading Australian partner, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Chun-Zhu Li is the Australian Director and Associate Professor Hari Vuthaluru the Australian Deputy Director.

I am delighted that the agreement for the Joint Research Centre was finalised on 23 August 2015 during my trip to India, where I was part of the Education Mission to India 2015 led by the Australian Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.

The Joint Research Centre was developed in response to a joint statement in November 2014 by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, welcoming the intention to explore opportunities for partnership between Australian institutions and the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad.

By joining Australia’s and India’s premier energy research institutions the new centre will act as a platform for bilateral collaboration in research and technology development for both fossil fuels and renewable energy, with a focus on clean coal technologies.

This is a very important step for co-operation in energy technology development between the two countries, especially in light of the urgent global priority to secure cheap energy supplies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With Professor Hari Vuthaluru and Professor Vishnu Priye at the signing of the agreement for the Australia-India Joint Research Centre for Coal and Energy Technology.

With Professor Hari Vuthaluru and Professor Vishnu Priye at the signing of the agreement for the Australia-India Joint Research Centre for Coal and Energy Technology.

Awards for Research Excellence

I am very pleased to announce the following finalists for the 2015 Curtin University Awards for Research Excellence.

John de Laeter Award for Research Leadership – to provide recognition for an outstanding research leader at Curtin University:

  • Professor Hong Hao, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Professor Chun-Zhu Li, Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Paul G Dunn Research Development Award – to provide recognition for a Head of a Faculty, School or Area who fosters, supports and helps to develop research at Curtin University:

  • Professor Keith Hill, Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Professor Steve Reddy, Faculty of Science and Engineering

The Curtin Research Impact and Engagement Award – to provide recognition to the researcher or research group that has demonstrated outstanding engagement and impact across the private or public sector, non-government organisations or in the community:

  • The Desert Fireball Network and Fireballs in the Sky team, Faculty of Science and Engineering
  • Lakhnu Sustainable Rural Development Project Team, Faculty of Humanities

The Curtin Research Support Award – to provide recognition for a staff member who supports and enables research activity at Curtin University:

  • Mr Matthias Liffers, Curtin University Library
  • Dr Rebecca Anderson, Faculty of Health Sciences

I congratulate all the finalists.  The winners will be announced at the awards presentation on Friday 4 September.

New MOOC with edX

Congratulations to all those involved in developing Curtin’s second MOOC on the edX platform,  Digital Branding and Engagement.  Enrolments are now open and the course starts on 2 November.

Those completing the MOOC will learn about the challenges of managing a digital brand and how rich and compelling content, combined with digital distribution, are integral to brand engagement.

Enrolments for The Business of Mining MOOC, our first venture with edX, now number over 4 100 and 676 students have successfully completed the course.

Vale Leif Bakke

Leif Bakke






Sadly Leif Bakke, a long time member of Properties Facilities and Development, passed away last week at home. He was 62 years old.

Leif had worked at Curtin for 22 years and was known as a helpful and cooperative member of the Site Services team.  Our deepest condolences go to his family on this sad loss.

Curtin graduate with a colourful life

Curtin WA School of Mines graduate Paul Royle, who passed away recently at the age of 101, was one of the men who famously escaped from a German prisoner of war camp during the Second World War.

Paul was the pilot of a Bristol Blenheim Bomber and was shot down over France in 1940.  He was captured and held in the Baltic Stalag Luft I camp, but following an unsuccessful escape attempt was transferred to the highest security camp, Stalag III.  He escaped in March 1944 as part of an organised breakout, immortalised in the movie The Great Escape, but was recaptured the next day.

After the war Paul moved to Australia and enrolled at the WA School of Mines in Kalgoorlie.  He graduated with a Mining Diploma in 1949 and later worked in the industry in Australia and overseas before retiring in WA.

Points of interest

At last week’s SET meeting, Marco Schultheis (Chief Strategy Officer) and Madiha Bux (Director, Strategic Planning and Business Analysis) presented summaries of Curtin’s performance in the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) rankings and the 2016 edition of The Good Universities Guide.  These analyses are available from the Office of Strategy and Planning for those who are interested – they will form the basis for our efforts to continue to strengthen our research and teaching performance.

Also, preliminary discussions on our three year Capital Plan were facilitated by Andy Sharp (Director, Properties Facilities and Development) and Rocio Bono (Strategic Asset Planning Principal).  Details of the plans will be released once these have been finalised and approved by Council.

  1. Glen Lawson September 1, 2015 7:43am

    Very sad to hear of Leif’s passing
    He was always the first person i would ring for help, and it was always given freely and with a smile
    We will all miss him dearly

  2. Anita Lethlean September 1, 2015 7:52am

    Sorry to hear of Leif’s passing, he will be missed. He was a real asset to the University. God Bless

  3. John Hew September 1, 2015 8:37am

    Deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones. Leif will always be remembered for his wit, cheerful smile and ever willingness to help. Rest in peace, mate.

  4. Margaret Pittuck September 1, 2015 8:42am

    So sad to hear that Leif Bakke has passed away. He was always cheerful, amiable and eager to help. Heartfelt sympathy to his family and loved ones. You will be missed.

  5. Anthea Macrides September 1, 2015 9:13am

    Our deepest condolences to Leif’s colleagues, friends and family. Leif was always so helpful and a pleasure to work with. He will be missed by the Graduations Team.

  6. Amanda Robinson September 1, 2015 9:37am

    RIP Leif, you’ll be missed, especially your warmth and sense of humour.

  7. Peter Sheppard September 1, 2015 10:13am

    Re Leif’s passing
    One of the easiest staff to deal with. always very helpful.

  8. Jo Martin September 1, 2015 3:51pm

    My condolences to all of Leif’s family, colleagues and friends. Such a sad loss. Leif was always so kind, friendly and nothing was ever too much trouble. An absolute treasure. RIP.

  9. 237304f September 2, 2015 9:40am

    So sorry to hear of Leif’s passing; he will be sadly missed. Leif was always willing to help and certainly made my working life easier on many occasions. RIP.

  10. Kerry Rotumah September 4, 2015 4:00pm

    So sad to hear about Mr B, still so young. Knew this wonderful man since before we both came to Curtin. Always smiling, always joking, always happy. Sadly missed. Condolences to the family, friends and colleagues who knew him.

  11. Valerie Raubenheimer September 7, 2015 1:27pm

    So very sad to hear that Leif had passed away so suddenly. A gracious, humble, shy man, but when you got to know him he had a great sense of humour. Leif never complained about any task, and was very fondly regarded by all of us in Corporate Relations and Development, especially members of the events team who relied on him so much. My sympathy to his family and close work colleagues. RIP

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