Newsletter of the Society of Monash Electrical Engineering Alumni

Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, Monash University


Issue 9 Editor: Bill Brown 9905 3504 June 2000


From the President of SMEEA


Kishor Dabke stepped down as President of SMEEA at the AGM in 1999. I was elected to take his place and am trying to follow in his footsteps, but his is a hard act to follow. I retired (partially) at the end of 1999 and really had no excuse for not taking a more active role in SMEEA. I had been a member of the academic staff at Monash for 35 years and had seen and been involved in the growth and change of a department with a wonderful history and an important place in the life of the University. My colleagues over the years are some of my best friends and I greatly value their qualities and skills. During the same period regular contact with students has provided endless stimulation and fulfillment. Watching young people grow and achieve is always rewarding.

But what can I say of Kishor? Doug Lampard asked him to get an alumni association going in 1974 and with his enthusiasm and tireless dedication he got it off the ground and continued it over all those years. No wonder he feels that he’s been carrying the can for a long time and others should get involved. We are all grateful to him for his magnificent contribution to SMEEA and hope that he will always be around to keep us on the straight and narrow.

In addition to myself your Committee is made up of Sam Wickramaratna (BE 1996) (Secretary), Greg Cambrell (PhD 1973) (Treasurer), Sonja Ahrens (BE 1992), Adam Crow (BE 1986, MEngSc 1999), Ross Gawler (BE 1971, PhD 1979), Geoff Ramadan (BE 1981) and, of course, Kishor as past president. We met recently to work out the time and format for this year’s Dinner and AGM. Details are noted below.


This newsletter is sent to members of SMEEA and to recent graduates. If you are not already a member of SMEEA or wish to tell us of a change in your circumstances please complete and return the attached form.

Bill Brown


 From the Head of Department


I would also like to add my thanks to Kishor for his contributions to SMEEA. Of course he has not escaped completely. Kishor, Bill and a number of others could be termed "Clayton's" retirees in that they have not actually left the Department. They continue to make a valued contribution to the research and teaching programmes, the pastoral care of our students and of course SMEEA.


The Department has now completed, or nearly so, its physical consolidation on the Clayton Campus. I would like to think it has been a major win for the Department which we will see the full benefit of over the coming few years. We are of course involved in an increasing number of Monash initiatives some of our own making others not. The Department will be coordinating the introduction of the BE (Electrical & Computer Systems) at Monash Malaysia in 2001. It remains to be seen what involvement we will have in South Africa. Our collaboration with Lulea University in Sweden continues to flourish with routine exchanges of staff along with hopefully a growing number of students. In fact I am sitting at Lulea writing this entry on a slightly odd QWERTY keyboard crowded with extra punctuation marks!


In 2001 we will also have completed the introduction of the new BE course phasing out the old Clayton and Caulfield degrees. This will be joined by a new Bachelor of Telecommunications Engineering degree, Master of Telecommunications Engineering, Master of Biomedical Engineering and associated diploma and certificate programmes. While we have several new programmes the total number of subjects in our portfolio has fallen dramatically. We all remain overloaded (isn't everyone) but significantly less overloaded than some of our colleagues elsewhere judging from my travels.


Our postgraduate research student numbers continue to rise as does our grant and consulting successes. The Federal Government continues to introduce new funding measures (ways of measuring us, not extra money). Financial modelling in the presence of noise (rapidly moving goal posts) now presents itself as a research and learned publications "opportunity".


I again extend my annual invitation for you to consider pursuing higher degrees with us or simply a professional update course. PhDs may now be undertaken away from Monash with only a modest requirement to physically attend the Campus; perhaps I should stop at this point before descending into full advertising mode.


Overall we are in good and improving shape. Thank you again for your support and I look forward to seeing those of you who will be at the dinner. Peter's address should be illuminating.

Greg Egan



Annual Dinner and AGM


This year the annual dinner and AGM will be held on Thursday evening 17 August in the West Banquet Room of the Union building at Clayton at 7.00pm. Our guest speaker will be Professor Peter Gerrand (MEngSc 1970), CEO of Melbourne IT. He will speak on 'The Melbourne IT story: challenges of growing a global IT business from a university startup'.

Peter was recruited by Melbourne University in early 1996 as a part-time Professor of Telecommunications, but with the main job of creating a successful for-profit subsidiary (Melbourne IT), to build mutually beneficial links between the university's expertise in the IT&T field and prospective industry partners.

Peter decided from previous experience running CITRI that the traditional university/CSIRO models for commercialization would not be successful enough in the fast moving IT&T field, and tried a new business model.

He initiated Melbourne ITs positive cash flow with a joint venture with Ericsson, the Advanced Services Applications Centre, which develops fast-to-market software-intensive telecommunications products for Ericsson worldwide. However Melbourne ITs business really took off in 1997 after it seized an opportunity to build a service bureau for domain name registrations, and finding a way to penetrate the global domain name market from April 1999.

Melbourne IT was floated on the Australian Stock Exchange in December 1999. Its shares, underwritten at $2.20, hit the market at $8.20 and even reached $17 by March 2000 before the NASDAQ "corrected itself".

Peter will tell us something of the experience of listing but will also talk about the range of activities of Melbourne IT, and the challenge of competing in the global e-Commerce market.

Registration for the Dinner and AGM can be completed on the attached form, or just send us some e-mail saying you wish to attend. We have been able to keep the cost steady at $30 per person in spite of the GST.

We'd like to see a really good turnout this year so please make every effort to come. Look forward to seeing you there.


The Douglas Lampard Prize for 1999


The Douglas Lampard Electrical Engineering Research Prize and Medal for 1999 will be awarded to Fiona Fang Chen for a PhD thesis entitled "PDE splines and fast approximation of PDE splines". The work was carried out under the supervision of Dr David Suter.

Fiona undertook a theoretical investigation of PDE (partial differential equation) splines based on the reproducing-kernel Hilbert space approach to establish a fundamental framework for spline methods. She then developed a fast method for spline evaluation suitable for computer implementation for both two and three dimensional problems. Finally she applied spline methods to problems in the simulation of heart motion and in the image processing and computer vision fields.

One of her examiners, Professor Greengard of New York University, writes that Fiona "..has written a very thorough thesis on an important topic in approximation theory……Chapters 5, 6 and 7 are mathematically complex, carefully written and new". Another examiner, Professor Metaxas of the University of Pennsylvania, writes that in her thesis Fiona "..addresses fundamental problems in the areas of Medical Image Analysis (the recovery of left ventricular motion from observed data)… in Computer Vision (filtering methods for edge detection) … and in Image Processing (image warping algorithms). This is among the very few theses I have seen whose contents are presented in such a thorough, well written and systematic way."

A number of papers have arisen from Fiona’s work, including four published in journals and five presented at international conferences.

Fiona grew up in the People’s Republic of China and took a BSc in Computational Mathematics from the Northwest University in 1986. After eight years of teaching in China she enrolled as a research student at Monash in 1995 and completed her PhD studies in the Department in 1998. She was employed at the Centre for Magnetic Resonance at the University of Queensland from then until recently when she returned to Melbourne with her husband and eleven year old son.

It is planned to present the Prize and Medal to Fiona at the Annual Dinner and AGM of SMEEA. The Prize is funded from the donations of alumni. If you are able to contribute please let SMEEA know.


 Annual Departmental Prizegiving Ceremony and the Faculty Awards Night


The traditional departmental Prizegiving Ceremony was held on Wednesday 3 May immediately following the Engineering Graduation Ceremony.

Over thirty students received prizes for their accomplishments in 1999 in a range of subjects over the second, third and final years of the courses we currently offer. Many of the donors of the prizes were on hand to make the presentations to the prizewinners. Our donors are mostly companies involved in electrical engineering although there are some individual benefactors. Geoffrey Taylor was awarded the Graham Beard Prize as the top student in the BE course overall for students completing in 1999. He has performed outstandingly well throughout the five years of his BSc/BE. Bill and Marion Beard, the prize donors, were on hand to make the presentation, as they have done for the past 25 years. Graham Beard, their son, and a student in the department, was killed in a car accident in 1973 and Bill and Marion established the prize in memory of him.

The Faculty Awards Night was only established a few years ago but is proving to be a very interesting event. This year it was held on the evening of Thursday 25 May in the University Club. Because it is a whole-of-faculty event only the prizewinners of the higher valued awards from each department were involved. Geoff Taylor and Bill and Marion Beard attended for a re-presentation of the Graham Beard Prize.

Of particular note was the presentation of the Professor K H Hunt Award to the top PhD student for 1999. Ken Hunt was present to make the award, and it was to Dr Nicholas Orr of the Department of Chemical Engineering. He had also won one of the prestigious Mollie Holman medals awarded by the PhD and Scholarships Committee of the University.

It was an event of double celebration for Ken Hunt, because it was just a few days short of his eightieth birthday. He was the first Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and served in that capacity from 1960 (the very beginnings of the University) until 1975. He then served as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty from 1976 until his retirement in 1985. Ken is a most remarkable man. Engineer, soldier, academic and music lover. His contributions at Monash have been monumental and it is wonderful that he is still around and is still keen to foster the best in engineering education.


 News of Graduates and Staff


Alan Finkel (BE 1975, PhD 1981) was again in the news, this time on the front page of The Age on 4 March with a colour photo of he and his wife Elizabeth and the headline "How the Finkels picked up $330 million on the day trip from Malvern to Silicon Valley". Their company, Axon Instruments, was listed on the Stock Exchange on 3 March and has done extremely well.

Stephen Handley (BE 1995) is in the US and is working with TI Instruments in Houston on MP3 (audio) applications of TIs DSP chips. From Stephen’s class of 1995 we’ve heard of a few others recently. Chris Millar (who visited Stephen recently) is with Xerox in Melbourne, Cameron Smith is with United Energy and David Martin with BHP at Westernport.

Ed and Diana Cherry are also in the US. Ed is working with Maxim in Oregon, and plans to continue this but to do so from his home in Marysville (Australia) in the long term, with contact via the Internet.

There were two academic staff retirements at the end of 1999, myself and Malcolm Reid. Most retirees maintain a strong contact with the department. Clive Berger spent 1999 teaching at the Malaysian campus of the University and is currently on a round Australia trip with his wife Linda. Kishor Dabke (mentioned already for other activities) is also busy researching a history of the teaching of control engineering in Australian universities. He is collaborating in this task with the Dean of the Faculty, Mike Brisk.

A group of research students from the late 60’s got together recently to reminisce about old times. They included John Badcock (PhD 1971) and Ruth, James Brown (BE 1965, PhD 1971) and Anne, Kishor Dabke (PhD 1972) and Rose, Don Keogh (PhD 1973) and Tony Marxsen (BE 1966, PhD 1976) and Helen.

Milosh Ivanovich (BE 1994) was named as Victorian Young Achiever in December 1999 for his amazing achievements over a number of years.

Ahmet Sekercioglu has filled the vacancy in the telecommunications area left when Bruce Tonkin went off to Melbourne IT.

Tony Morton has recently joined the power group as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the reliability area. Tony is the son of Bruce Morton (BE 1965), Manager of the Office of Performing and Visual Arts at the Frankston campus of Monash.








 Thursday 17 August

7.00pm for 7.30pm

West Banquet Room

First Floor, Union Building,Monash University, Clayton Campus


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The cost is $30 per person. Please make cheques payable to SMEEA.




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