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Curtin University
Note to staff

11 May 2015


Curtin technology surveys HMAS Sydney (II) and
HSK Kormoran Shipwrecks

A joint Curtin-WA Museum expedition to survey the historic World War II shipwrecks of HMAS Sydney (II) and the German raider HSK Kormoran has just returned with a treasure trove of 3D imaging, an acoustic survey and scientific data.

Curtin staff developed the custom lighting and camera package, including 14 digital still cameras and four 3DHD cameras fitted to the two underwater ROVs (Remotely Operated Vehicles) that have captured the site in amazing detail.

The dataset will feed into the 3D reconstruction pipeline being developed at the Curtin HIVE, the production of exhibitions at the WA Museum and partner institutions, and the preparation of a documentary about the expedition.

The new high-resolution images will also contribute to a better understanding of the site.  For example, for the first time the footage revealed a 15cm shell hole through the bridge at the compass platform.   This discovery supports the theory that within the first 30 seconds of the battle Sydney’s bridge was destroyed, her command structure lost, and her ability to effectively fight back severely disabled.

The imaging technology developed by Curtin is throwing new light on the historic site. When the wrecks were found in 2008 the shell hole was not obvious, presenting as a shadow in the photographs taken at the time.

Congratulations to Curtin staff involved in the expedition including Paul Nicholls from the Office of Research and Development and researchers from the Faculties of Science &Engineering and Humanities including Dr Andrew Woods, Dr Andrew Hutchison, Andy Bickers, Professor Euan Harvey, Dr Ben Saunders, and graduate students Joshua Hollick and Stuart Gralton.

The wrecks lie in 2,500 metres of water, 20 kilometres apart, about 200 kilometres west of Steep Point (Shark Bay). The $2.4 million survey expedition was supported by the Australian Government, Curtin University, DOF Subsea, the WA Museum Foundation, GMA Garnet Group and a number of other supporters and contributors.

The project has the support of the Royal Australian Navy and the Naval Association of Australia, representing veterans’ interests.

Video footage taken by the expedition is available at

Sydney 2

ROV captures wreck of HMAS Sydney (II)

Close up of shell hole

Close-up of previously unseen 15cm shell hole through the bridge.

Images courtesy of WA Museum and Curtin University © WA Museum.

 Transforming Curtin IT

In the context of the rapidly evolving higher education sector and the ever increasing pace of change in technology, we must be responsive to the changing needs of staff, students and researchers.

The Transforming Curtin IT (TCIT) program is designed to deliver the key enabling technology work that we need to ensure our continued success and competitiveness.  It has been approved by both Finance Committee and Council.  Funding for TCIT will be provided via the transformational funding source and so won’t impact on operational budgets across Curtin.

An overarching governance group will monitor, evaluate and lead TCIT.  This group, the TCIT Steering Committee, is chaired by myself and has as members:

  • Ian Callahan, Vice-President Corporate Services
  • Jill Downie, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education
  • Val Raubenheimer, Vice-President Corporate Relations and Development
  • Graeme Wright, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Development
  • Chris Rasmussen, Chief Information Officer.

I would like to acknowledge the considerable efforts undertaken by the TCIT program team, along with key stakeholders across the University, to ensure that TCIT is appropriately scoped to deliver achievable outcomes in the timeframe proposed.  A number of outcomes have already been delivered.  They include:

  • Launch of the new website and updates to the site, using the new “look and feel” for Curtin web presence
  • Launch of CRM Phase One on 4 May, which will deliver effective case management of ‘at risk’ students
  • Launch of the new Human Resources on-boarding application, which provides a much more streamlined and effective approach to on-boarding new staff members.

Changes that will occur during the remainder of 2015, include:

  • Development and implementation of a student app – Mobile Study Assistant.  This app will give students access to their study timetable, academic calendar, exam timetables, unit outlines, unit academic contacts and other information critical to their day to day life at Curtin
  • Further upgrades to the Curtin website, specifically for future students, and an enhanced search capability for the course finder
  • Broadening of the student retention strategy capability through CRM integration with Blackboard, plus an email and SMS messaging facility to students.

You will hear more about these projects over the coming weeks.  Some areas will be more involved in them than others but all of us, as technology users, will in some way be impacted by the changes. I encourage you to seek out information about what TCIT will deliver for you by emailing

United approach to build ‘Next Generation Cities’

Curtin University researchers will work with colleagues in China to lead a new urban sustainability initiative.

The University recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chongqing University to support research collaboration on Sustainable and Smart Cities of the Future – Next Generation Cities.  In addition, a joint research laboratory in the field of new generation construction technologies has been established.

The collaboration will bring together cross-disciplinary expertise from the two universities, focusing on five themes of sustainability, mega-projects, industrialisation, policy, and building information modelling (BIM). This collaboration will not only benefit both universities’ research innovation, but also the wider community.

Curtin’s London House Boardroom is open for business

The University currently leases space in London House, 216 St George’s Terrace.  The area is used by the Strategic Engagement, External Relations and Advancement teams to help develop and enhance our corporate engagement networks in the city.

Other areas of the University are very welcome to utilise the facilities, and enquiries should be directed to the Strategic Engagement office via email or extension 4256.

Staff achievement

Congratulations to Karen Clay of the WA School of Mines on being selected for the WA State Women’s Eight in 2015 Australian Masters Rowing Championships at the Sydney International Regatta Centre later this month.

IDAHOT Day, 17 May

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) was created in 2004 to draw the attention to the discrimination, homophobia and transphobia that denies millions of people across the world their basic human dignity.  Curtin is committed to creating an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, and to supporting diversity in sexuality and gender.

Other points of interest

At this week’s Senior Executive Team (SET) meeting, the new Head of the School of Design and Art was announced.  Associate Professor David Hawkins is due to take up the position on 22 June this year.  He is currently Head of Graduate School and Associate Professor of Design at Falmouth University in the United Kingdom and has recently completed a three-year term as Associate Dean (Research and Innovation).  Falmouth is a leading arts university in the United Kingdom.

The SET meeting included a presentation on the Future Students Recruitment Strategy. One of the team’s key initiatives is the Teachers’ Big Day Out, which has been run annually since 2009 to provide professional development for high school careers counsellors, year coordinators and principals.  Almost 100 people attended this year’s event on May 4 and the feedback was excellent.

  1. Paul Nicholls May 11, 2015 9:05am

    I was very privileged to be part of the Sydney-Kormoran expedition and very proud of the Curtin researchers involved. This was a truly multidisciplinary project and will provide ongoing R&D and promotional opportunities for Curtin in the future.

    The project had a number of associated risk not the least of which was that we had 150 connections in a system that was 2500m under the ocean and had never been tested at that depth….. so thanks to the Curtin Executive team who took a chance on us.

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