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Emerging technologies programs

Applied AI and Digital Innovation for Defence and Aerospace Applications

The Applied AI and Digital Innovation for Defence and Aerospace Applications program will deliver graduates capable of tackling Australia's pressing current and future challenges in the defence and aerospace sectors through the application of AI and digital technologies. It will expand opportunities for diverse communities of students and create workers skilled in emerging technologies, including applied AI, digital twins and threads, machine learning, robotics, cyber security, and modern manufacturing.

This interdisciplinary program builds on the strategic partnership between RMIT University and Charles Darwin University (CDU), which will see the creation of a joint Aerospace and Defence Industries 4.0 TestLab in the Northern Territory. Through the Next Generation Graduates Program, greater outcomes will be created for both institutions by leveraging strengths of each, including the world-class research capabilities of RMIT's Sir Lawrence Wackett Defence and Aerospace Centre and CDU's abiding and deep engagement with Australia's First Nations peoples across northern and central Australia. The program will also build on the institution's long-standing relationships with Australia's Department of Defence, defence-industry prime contractors and small-to-medium enterprises, the Northern Territory Government, and remote and regional communities.

Chief Investigators Dr Jennifer Palmer, Professor Pier Marzocca, Professor Hamish Campbell, Associate Professor Selina Fothergill, Professor Ivan Cole, Professor Xiuzhen (Jenny) Zhang
Universities RMIT, Charles Darwin
Industry partners BAE Systems Australia, Boeing Australia, Defence Science and Technology Group, Elbit Systems of Australia, Memko, Thales AustraliaNorthern Territory Government
Student degree type PhD, MPhil

Artificial Intelligence of Things Empowering Industrial Digital Twin

The introduction of digital technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Digital twins (DT), has transformed the nature of work and reshaped the Australian and global economies over time.

Our primary objective is to research and develop novel DT solutions empowered by Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), a combination of AI and IoT, to meet the needs of our industry partners, such as improved productivity, and reduced maintenance and management costs. By representing physical objects digitally, DT can harness real-time IoT data and optimise performance using AI and data analytics. Several research and industry challenges will be addressed, including accurate 3D modeling, DT model optimisation, reliable connectivity between the physical world and digital world, and edge AI models.

By collaborating with academia and industry, the program will train the next generation of graduates in the fields of AI, IoT, and DT. Mentoring will be provided to the cohort by 20 industry and academic researchers from 10 committed organisations with expertise in machine learning, computer vision, networking, edge computing, and manufacturing, construction and mining. Students from diverse backgrounds will be able to collaborate across disciplines through our research team's outstanding facilities and expertise in diverse team environments. 

Chief Investigators Professor Wei Xiang, Professor Wenny Rahayu, Professor Phoebe Chen, Associate Professor Andy Song, Professor Jiong Jin
Universities La Trobe, RMIT, Swinburne
Industry partners Australian Turntables, Schenck Process, Bortana, Janco, Nature Innovation, YepHome, CSIRO
Student degree type PhD, MPhil, Honours

Central Bank Digital Currency – Infrastructure & Applications

Digital Finance comprises a wide field of R&D endeavour encompassing many use cases across many industries and asset classes. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is a field of particular importance. CBDC and other forms of trusted digital currency have the potential to transform financial infrastructure thereby impacting market operations, retail and business payments, and buying/selling of digital assets. The Bank of International Settlement notes: CBDCs promise to provide cash-like safety and convenience for peer-to-peer payments. To do so, they must be resilient and accessible.

The development and deployment of robust, efficient and trusted CBDC requires the design, engineering, proving and integration of a suite of technologies including blockchain, security and privacy preserving solutions and regtech (surveillance, alerting and compliance) technologies. Progress in the field of CBDC, and Digital Finance more broadly, critically depends upon the development of highly skilled human capital.

Our proposed R&D program unites the RBA and ANZ with Trovio and DigitalX, digital market services and technology solutions providers, with 11 PhD students supervised by investigators from RMIT, Macquarie University and UTS. The Digital Finance CRC will manage the program and provide expert mentoring for the students plus access to finance, legal and technology advice, infrastructure and solutions. 

Chief Investigators Professor Talis Putnins, Professor Fang Chen, Professor Iqbal Gondal, Associate Professor Chris Berg, Professor Andreas Furche, Professor Niloufer Selvadurai
Universities Macquarie, RMIT, UTS
Industry partners Reserve Bank of Australia, ANZ Banking Group, DigitalX Limited, Trovio, Digital Finance CRC
Student degree type PhD

Developing Digital Capabilities to Support the Aged Care Sector

The release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report has given us an opportunity for the government, providers and the community to explore ways together which we can address the challenges. The need to do so is urgent as our population continues to get older while overcoming challenges in the care workforce will take time.

One of the recommendations in the report is to adopt technology to transform the aged care system so that carers' time can be best used to deliver quality care. The report also noted the use of technology to increase connectedness of older Australians - to one another, their family and carers, and to the broader community as our social structure change.

Reimagining the role of technologies in aged care will be critical in ensuring the sustainability of the sector. Our industry partners are driven by these challenges everyday, with issues falling into one of the three key areas: (i) how to help our strained workforce with technology; (ii) how can technology play a role in uplifting the well-being and quality of life of our aged Australians; and (iii) how to improve the patchy digital capability present across the sector. 

Chief Investigators Professor Kok-Leong Ong, Associate Professor Andy Song, Dr Chao ChenProfessor Vasso Apostolopoulos, Associate Professor Daniel LaiProfessor Rezaul Begg
Universities RMIT, Victoria, Newcastle
Industry partners McKenzie, Smartheal, Netlinkz, Fronditha, CSIRO's Data61
Student degree type PhD, Masters 1 year project (RTP eligible), Coursework Masters (not RTP eligible)

Quantum Information Technology: Industry Readiness & Applications

Quantum Computing (QC) is a rapidly developing emerging technology based on a combination of information technology and the physics of quantum mechanics, which is expected to transform the Information Technology industry. The implications of QC range from rendering insecure existing protocols protecting online security, to solving previously infeasible industrial problems in the cybersecurity, transportation, manufacturing, energy, supply chain and defence sectors, among others.

However, the Australian IT industry is currently unprepared for the Quantum IT transformation, lacking a suitable skilled workforce and an understanding of the technology and how to apply it to solve real-world problems. This program aims to tackle hurdles in the adoption of quantum-safe security technologies and innovative industry applications of quantum computing. We aim to identify, develop and evaluate suitable QC algorithms and protocols for cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, optimisation and physical system simulation problems, and apply them to feasibly solve industrial problems with near-term QC devices.

We also aim to contribute to training the future workforce for the Australian Quantum IT industry. Outcomes are expected to provide technical solutions, know-how, and graduates with multi-disciplinary skills required for multiple sectors of Australian industry to prepare for and take early advantage of QC in tomorrow's global quantum-based industry. 

Chief Investigators Associate Professor Ron Steinfeld, Professor Michelle Simmons, Associate Professor Muhammad UsmanProfessor Dinh Phung, Associate Professor Guido Tack, Professor Katya Pas (née Izgorodina)
Universities UNSW, Monash
Industry partners Senetas, Transport for NSWDefence Science and Technology Group, Silicon Quantum Computing
Student degree type PhD, MPhil, Coursework Masters (not RTP eligible), Honours

Sports Data Science and AI: Creating the Skillsets, Toolsets and Mindsets for Transformation, Innovation, &/or Trajectory 2032

Globally, sports data analytics was worth ~US$2.20b in 2020 with a CAGR of ~21.8% by 2028 (Emergen Research). Much of this is driven by growth in sports technology (Sportstech), the intersection of emerging technology with human performance, medicine, and STEM. On-field Sportstech is used to monitor and improve athlete health and performance, and off-field technology involves sports business applications, infrastructure, and engagement.

The global Sportstech industry was worth ~US$17.9b in 2021 growing to US$40b by 2026. The Australian Sportstech industry generates US$3.1b in revenue, with 600+ companies (tripling in the last decade) and employing over 10k people (ATSN Sport Innovation Report, 2022).

This Program will train a sports data scientist cohort to tackle challenges faced by the Australian Sportstech industry. It will meet analytical demand driven by emerging Sportstech technologies for managing athlete health and performance, recovery from injury, and athlete and support staff management, with a focus on personalised outcomes and embracing diversity.

By training multidisciplinary, industry-driven data specialists, the Program will boost the Australian Sportstech sector, accelerate growth and upskilling of new ventures, and support Australia's 2032 Olympic trajectory. Program graduates will be work-ready for sport, and related areas of data-driven human performance, including defence, business, and health. 

Chief Investigators Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Dr Paul Wu, Associate Professor Dimitri Perrin, Associate Professor Divya Mehta, Professor Scott Sisson, Dr Sahani Pathiraja
Universities UNSW, QUT
Industry partners Queensland Rugby Union, Platypus Medtech Consulting, Reaction Performance, Again Faster Australia / Fitbox, Microba Life Sciences, Precision Health Alliance, iNSPIRETEK, Paddle Australia, Surfing Australia, Splink, Mitosportz, NVIDIA, Oracle
Student degree type PhD, MPhil, Honours

Transformation of data to data products for a trusted data-driven economy: technology innovation and application

In this program, we propose a unique research and training opportunity for prospective PhD students in data science and engineering technologies which is essential to the development and implementation of data economy. The research will be centred around the development of Data Product which combines disciplinary areas in data science/engineering, privacy and security, governance, economics.

We aim to research, develop and deliver novel data product generation tools, best practices, solutions and platforms that will allow: (1) for organisations to transform their data to data products with governance, privacy protection, to extend and broaden data applications, and to enable data exchange and flow crossing organisations, domains and sectors; (2) for data consumers to search, query, explore, and combine data products for advanced data analytics and providing value added services; (3) for true data product trading in marketplaces.

This program puts together a multi-disciplinary and industry-driven research program to support postgraduate training for 10 PhD students. Our team includes: Macquarie University, University of Adelaide, RESINT, EY, Westpac, Truuth, ITIC, Yirigaa, WIMR. We have a very strong team dedicating to this very exciting R&D and education program, which includes leading academics in this area, and experts from both IT/data industry and data-driven organisations/companies. 

Chief Investigators Professor Jian Yang, Professor Amin Beheshti, Dr Jia Wu, Dr Wei Zhang, Associate Professor Yuval Yarom, Associate Professor Stephanie Huang
Universities MacquarieAdelaide
Industry partners RESINT Technology, ITIC, Truuth, Yirigaa, EY, Westpac, Westmead Institute for Medical Research
Student degree type PhD

Artificial Intelligence of Things for Resilient and Sustainable Smart Cities

In this program, we propose a unique research and training opportunity in digital technology which is essential to the future development of resilient and sustainable smart cities. The research will be centred around Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) which combines AI and IoT. We aim to research, develop and deliver novel IoT platforms and solutions that will allow for massive connectivity of sensors, intelligent processing of data, and AIoT infrastructure support to optimise city functions and drive economic growth while improving quality of life for its citizens.

This program puts together a multi-disciplinary research program to support postgraduate training for 10 PhD students. The research in this program focuses on digital technology including IoT, AI, data science and digital twins for smart cities. The industry partner, Blue IoT, will contribute $600k in cash and $150K in-kind over the entire program period. Macquarie University will contribute $50k in cash and $588k in-kind, and UNSW will contribute $12k in cash and $416k in-kind over 3.5 years.

Chief Investigators Professor Tao GuProfessor Jian YangProfessor Bamini GopinathDr Jia WuProfessor Mahbub HassanProfessor Wen Hu
Universities MacquarieUNSW
Industry partners Blue IoT Pty Ltd
Student degree type PhD

Building National Cybersecurity Capabilities for Digital Transformation in Manufacturing

Digital transformation holds tremendous potential for innovation and growth for Australian industries but it brings risks and challenges. This has been demonstrated by cyber incidents targeting the manufacturing sector like the US Colonial Pipeline hacking and the $100M ransomware loss of food manufacturing company Mondelez.

Driven by the real-life needs from our industry partners such as DXC, Amazon, ASTA, and Sysbox, we aim to address the grand cybersecurity challenges faced by Australian manufacturers, such as the vulnerabilities in manufacturing software, data flow analysis for security in smart manufacturing, data driven control system assessment, and secure and responsible AI for manufacturing. This program will build Australian sovereign cyber capabilities to secure business-critical manufacturing systems and bring together a multi-disciplinary team to train next generation graduate students as a cohort within industry from the outset.

The cohort will be mentored by 17 industry and academic Investigators from 8 committed organisations with relevant industrial expertise such as manufacturing, cybersecurity, human interaction, software engineering, entrepreneurship and commercialisation. Our research team will provide outstanding facilities and leading expertise to ensure that the students work together as a multidisciplinary team. The students will be deliberately recruited from diverse backgrounds and work collaboratively within diverse team environments.

Chief Investigators Professor Yang XiangProfessor Dimitrios GeorgakopoulosProfessor John GrundyDr Xiaoning DuDr Siqi MaDr Chao Chen
Universities SwinburneMonashUNSW ADFAJCU
Industry partners DXC TechnologyAmazon Web ServicesAstaSysbox Pty Ltd
Student degree type PhD, Coursework Masters (not RTP eligible), Honours

Creating the Next Generation of Quantum Technology Specialists

Quantum technologies offer great opportunities across the economy, and possible threats should Australia inadequately invest in its development. These have been recognised through recent government attention given to quantum technologies, as an economic driver and a safeguard to national security.

The proposed Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA) program will provide the framework to holistically develop the quantum technology industry, from hardware and software to responsible innovation.

We have brought together a world-renowned team of researchers from our four partner universities with a range of industry collaborators to engage in building a robust, diverse quantum workforce that meets industry needs. Our team of investigators have demonstrated strong track records in working successfully with industry. Our industry partners represent both small start-ups and large organisations that populate the nascent quantum ecosystem. Their participation in the program will include timely engagement on industry applications as the technology develops and internships.

This program aligns perfectly and will complement the already established SQA Postdoctoral, PhD, undergraduate, outreach, and internship programs, leveraging the substantial value they represent, increasing capacity and skills to build our next generation of quantum technology specialists. Working closely with CSIRO, SQA will ensure the best possible experience for supervisors, industry, and the students that participate.

Chief Investigators Professor Peter TurnerProfessor Andrew DzurakProfessor Gavin BrennenProfessor Andrew DohertyDr Simon DevittDr Zixin Huang
Universities MacquarieUNSWSydneyUTS
Industry partners Sydney Quantum AcademyKPMGBTQ AGQuintessence Labs,Joseki
Student degree type PhD, Masters 1 year project (RTP eligible), Honours

Digital Engineering for Device-on-Demand

Digital engineering can forge a future defence force that continually innovates and quickly adjust to a rapidly evolving technology and threat landscape. It enables the prototype warfare concept of adopting archetype models, which are proven in virtual experimentation, produced in small quantities, and quickly introduced into service. Realising continuous innovation and an adaptable force hinges on three key ingredients: an agreed and shared virtual design, development and manufacturing reference architecture that provides a technical description of the prototype devices based on a set of common standards; a well-connected defence-industry-academia ecosystem of innovators, partners, and suppliers; and a change to the defence DNA to welcome and embrace innovation.

Our graduate program will develop the foundations of the required reference architecture. It will demonstrate its benefits by designing, building, and flight-testing various on-demand small unmanned aerial systems, each optimised for a different mission. Once tested, we will roll out our architecture to a broad set of end-users and provide training. We will extract and disseminate lessons learned on various aspects of the program to facilitate and speed up translation to other devices. We will generate a cohort of innovation catalysts and create a tightly-connected community of defence innovation SMEs and academic partners.

Chief Investigators Associate Professor Dries VerstraeteProfessor Ben ThornberProfessor Con Doolan,Dr Danielle Moreau,Professor Philip Leong,Professor Gwenaelle Proust
Universities SydneyUNSW
Industry partners DSTG Australia
Student degree type PhD

Empowering Human within the Metaverse

The Metaverse typically represents a network of virtual environments with large-scaled spatial data, within which human entities are often represented with virtual avatars. Our proposal expands the Metaverse concept as a holistic synergy of digital and physical environments, within which human workers manage, analyse, train, educate, and explore.

We recognise an opportunity to enable Australian industry sectors to enhance their physical operations through Metaverse techniques and technologies, to boost Australia’s digital economy. Our core objective is to empower human performance, capabilities, and safety within the Metaverse, to seamlessly facilitate communication and cross interactions between digital and physical entities.

Our strategies manifest as two additional objectives where digital assets mirror and sustain physical assets. We aim to innovate in the areas of assets management, authentication, and authorship with blockchain technologies across physical and digital realms, allowing digital assets to mirror physical assets with life cycle transactions. We apply circular economy methodologies to support exchange and trade of digital and physical resources within urban ecosystems of the Metaverse, thus enabling digital technology to make physical resources sustainable. Our student cohort will participate in an interdisciplinary research environment with research leaders and industry partners from manufacturing, architecture, education, design, and blockchain sectors.

Chief Investigators Associate Professor Thuong HoangDr Rui WangProfessor Stefan GreuterProfessor Tuba KocaturkDr Jun WangDr Wenchi Shou
Universities DeakinWestern Sydney
Industry partners M-BytesHYDACMalthouse TheatreSycamore Civil GroupChainingBMYGArupPaperGiantCSIRO
Student degree type PhD

Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning: Technology Development and Adoption

Successes of machine learning have catalysed a revolution across the spectrum of human endeavours. Enterprises offer machine learning services to improve their businesses and provide ready-made intelligence for end-user applications. However, there is an increasingly striking discordance between its rapid growth and renewed awareness of privacy protection in this era of intelligence. Individual data often carry private information and models are deemed as intellectual properties.

The security of private and sensitive information carried by the data and machine learning models that could be potentially exposed must be guaranteed. This program aims to nurture Australian next-generation workforce in the field of Privacy-preserving Machine Learning (PPML). PPML aims to protect the privacy of data or models used in machine learning, at training or inference time and during system deployment. It is the key enabler of trustworthy ML systems and benefits both model users and model owners.

We plan to explore emerging privacy-enhancing techniques for realising PPML systems, address practical challenges during deployment, and adopt PPML systems to Australian prioritised industry sectors. The outcome expects to pave a long-sought lane towards broad market adoptions of PPML and be an integral part of the next generation Australian digital economy and society.

Chief Investigators DrXingliang YuanAssociate Professor Joseph LiuAssociate Professor Zongyuan GeDr Rebecca YangAssociate Professor Reza HaffariProfessor Xun Yi
Universities MonashRMIT
Industry partners eBayAnsen InnovationEyetelligenceAurecon AustralasiaARESS ConTech,Arup, Aus Property Investment Group, Smart Energy CouncilSustainable Energy TransformationCSIRO
Student degree type PhD, Masters 1 year project (RTP eligible), Coursework Masters (not RTP eligible), Honours

Trusted Automation for Industrial Internet of Things

Automation of industrial processes by adopting emerging technologies such as IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and blockchain is increasing under the Industry-4.0 transformation. Together, these technologies hold the potential to significantly increase Australian companies' productivity and competitiveness. Several industries in the manufacturing, supply chain, information systems, agriculture, and retail sectors already look to transform their industry by recruiting skilled professionals. However, the skill shortage in these domains impedes the transformation process, impacting innovation, transformation, and growth.

The Australian Government’s AI and Blockchain Roadmaps has identified a significant economic opportunity for these technologies into various industry sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and supply chains yet the persistent skills shortage in these areas is a barrier to realizing the economic benefits.

This program will train the next generation graduates in trusted automation for industrial Internet of Things through a close partnership between industry and academia.

Chief Investigators Professor Raja JurdakProfessor Salil KanhereProfessor Alistair BarrosDr Helen PaikProfessor Sagadevan MundreeDr Gowri Ramachandran
Universities UNSWQUT
Industry partners SupraOraclesAutomiOlamInterport Cargo ServicesQueensland CottonXiippyCSIRO
Student degree type PhD, MPhil, Honours

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