Major Boost for Australian Automotive Research and Development

Geelong’s position as a centre for leading edge automotive research and development has had a major boost with the Federal Government’s announcement of funding for two Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs).

Deakin University is a major contributor to two of the centres – the CRC for Advanced Automotive Technology and the CAST (Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology) CRC. The research of both centres will have an impact on the automotive and light metals industries.

Over the next seven years the recently launched Geelong Technology Precinct at Deakin’s Geelong campus at Waurn Ponds will be home to new major nodes of both centres and will provide an excellent base for manufacturing and product performance research.

The CAST CRC will focus on improved manufacturing processes and new product development for the automotive and aerospace industries. Lighter cars and greater fuel economy are both on the agenda, with new technologies to be developed using lightweight metals such as aluminium and magnesium.

Professor David St John, CEO designate of the new CAST CRC said that “Australia currently leads the world in light metals research and development and this grant ensures that we will continue to dominate the field, with clear economic benefits to the Australian manufacturing industry.”

The main focus of the CRC for Advanced Automotive Technology will be ensuring Australia’s automotive industry’s competitive edge in providing products for the international market.

It will build on Australia’s leadership in niche manufacturing of value added products which is already leading to significant exports using the latest in virtual design techniques and intelligent systems. Improved car safety and enhanced fuel economy are also key goals for the centre.

This CRC brings together carmakers, suppliers, CSIRO, Deakin and a number of other universities with the common vision of fast tracking products from ideas to market.

Federation Fellow with Deakin’s Faculty of Science and Technology Professor Peter Hodgson, who was involved in the development of the proposal, said that getting industry and research providers together is essential in driving product innovation in a country of Australia’s size.

“Having the carmakers and suppliers talking to each other at the concept stage and then sharing this with the public, researchers and educators creates a whole new dynamic. For us at Deakin it also provides fantastic case studies for our degree programs and will aid us in identifying future research and training needs,” he said.

One of the critical issues currently facing the automotive industry is the lack of suitably trained engineers and this centre aims to tackle the issue by offering scholarships to attract high quality postgraduate students, Professor Hodgson said.

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