Friday, May 20, 2016

CSIRO and University of Technology Sydney

Today we visited CSIRO to learn about their research and facilities. Later we went to the University of Technology Sydney where we heard a few lectures and got to see their UTS Hatchery and data arena.
Today we visited CSIRO, which is described as a sort of a NASA equivalent, but not just aerospace focused. CSIRO does research and engineering in almost every field imaginable, with over 5000 staff, they work with over 2800 industry partners. They are the largest patent holder in Australia and lay claim to the invention of things such as fast WLAN, polymer banknotes, and Relenza flu treatments, which is one of the two existing treatments.

Our host Scott Martin is the officer in charge of the Lindfield site which we visited, and also the group leader of the applied physics sect. He gave us a brief overview of the kinds of projects CSIRO works on, and we really got a sense of how vast their research extends. Next, we went on a tour of the building, which houses 250 laboratories.

Just a couple of fun facts about the CSIRO building:

  • It is built entirely out of brick to suppress vibration
  • Every single window is coated with gold to prevent radio waves from penetrating
  • It houses Australia’s standard atomic clock.
  • The air conditioning is housed in an entirely different building because of its sheer mass, and the CISRO building is guaranteed to a quarter of a degree, but typically maintained to a tenth
  • The building uses $6000 of electricity per day.

Next, we visited the University of Technology Sydney, where we heard lectures from Dr. Ganesh Naik, Dr. Rifai Chai, Dr. Bao Trong, Ph.D. student Daniel Roxby, and Dr. Simon Ting.

Dr. Naik spoke about independent component analysis, which is a method to both reduce error and determine the source of information being examined. Dr. Chai spoke about his research on brain activity using an EEG to create things such as a brain-computer interface for people with spinal injuries, and the effects of drive and sport-cognitive fatigue on the brain. Dr. Truong is doing research on a new kind of biomedical imagery for cancer using terahertz radiation, for which he has had success in detecting and classifying skin cancer with accuracies up to 95.7%, and breast cancer with accuracies from 86.5-97.3%. Ph.D. student Daniel Roxby spoke about ways to wirelessly recharge implanted devices, particularly examining the possibility of using the ability of bacteria to convert glucose to energy, more than that, he is researching how different chemicals may yield the same results. Dr. Ting spoke about using nanoparticles to carry medication to targeted cells or ways to promote cell healing, also how this may be able to combat bacteria infections.

After the lectures, Dr. Hung Nguyen, who is in charge of their recently established Biomedical Engineering major, took us on a tour of the UTS hatchery. The hatchery is similar to an incubation chamber for start-ups, where people who want to start a company can come to foster their ideas and build entire businesses with aids from teachers and professionals.

We also got to visit the Data Arena room at UTS. This is a circular room with motion trackers and six projectors projecting onto the surrounding walls, creating a 360-degree 3D image. The image can then be seen by users wearing special 3D glasses. The main use for this room is to visualize data and allow it to be interactive with users in the room via little handheld devices. Aside from showing us how the interactive data works, they also showed us some cool movies which utilize the entire screen and its 3D effects.