Profiles of Past Graduates
These are some selected profiles of past graduates of the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Here they explain why they studied in this area, why it is exciting and how it affected their careers.
I remember the pivotal moment in my life when I decided that I wanted to follow the path of the integrated circuit - the then Dr. Graham Rigby (to become Prof. Rigby of UNSW) was showing my father and I over the new AWM (Amalgamated Wireless Microelectronics) factory in Sydney. I was about twelve years old and at that time they were making bipolar transistors, but it hooked me. This lead me through a range of hobby interests in electronics and particularly radio as a radio amateur (the locals, in the Riverland town I lived in, were amazed at my "bed" suspended on a mast - a huge phased array antenna!)
This burning interest lead to The University of Adelaide and Electrical Engineering. I almost turned into a Chemical Engineer (semiconductor processing I thought), but the circuits interest was a continual call and I swapped after a week of ChemEng in second year. Not to mention my friends were in EE. Like many at the time, we did the extra year to finish a BSc in Physics. This was a great year and lead to "real engineering" summer jobs with the Mawson Institute and the Radiophysics Group. Additonally, three of us (Richard Southcott, Andrew Davis and myself) did a Physics project where we built a complete a earth station to track a solar flare monitoring satellite. As this was the only southern hemisphere monitoring station during an Apollo mission, we got front page headlines as "Apollo's Guardian Angels."
We did another satellite earth station as a final year project and I guess I began to find my slot in life as a "hands on" type of engineer. At the end of final year, postgraduate study just seemed the obvious thing to do as I still hadn't learned how to design an IC. We had a great team and with a little help from our friends (in particular, Dr. J.A.V. Rogers, "Mr. Compooter"). We also built one of the first colour raster scan displays in the world. I went on to write some of the first advanced IC CAD software for that system and spent some of my time at the University of Edinburgh learning MOS design.
My PhD (and the reputation of Prof. Bruce Davis and Prof. Bob Bogner) landed me a position with the prestigous Bell Labs - initially for a year. That was to turn into an 18 year stay in the US and a tremendously interesting career both in there and after I returned to Australia. If I look back on it, it all started in the halls and lecture theatres of the Chapman Building and my time in Electrical Engineering at Adelaide. The PhD experience was central to developing methods of problem solving.
Brief biography: Neil Weste was born in 1951 in Renmark, South Australia, attending firstly Glossop High School and then Westminster. He has a BSc, BE(Elec) and PhD from the University of Adelaide. He commenced work at Bell Labs Research, NJ in 1977 working on CAD for chip design. In 1981 he completed a sabbatical year in North Carolina at Duke Univeristy and UNC (Chapel Hill). He returned to Bell Labs in 1982 as a Department Head. In 1984 he joined Symbolics Inc. in Cambridge, MA, USA, and lead the design effort for a single chip Lisp microprocessor. In 1989 he cofounded and was president of TLW Inc., an IC engineering company where he completed chip designs for a range of large US companies. These included including North American Philips, Analog Devices, AT&T Microelectronics and Thomson Consumer Electronics. A number of groundbreaking chips were designed in the area of TV ghost cancellation, video telephony and communications. In 1995 he returned to Australia to a chair at Macquarie University working on chips for wireless LANs. In 1997 he cofounded Radiata Communications (with David Skellern) which designed the first chip sets for the IEEE 802.11a WLAN standard. In 2001 Radiata was acquired by Cisco Systems, for $US 295 million. At Cisco, he is now a Director, Engineering in the Wireless Networking Business Unit and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Adelaide. Neil Weste is a Fellow of the IEEE for his contributions to custom IC design and a peer elected member of the IEEE Solid State Circuits Society. He is coauthor of a best selling text on chip design, which, has been translated into Japanese, Greek and Chinese.
I was born in Sri Lanka, and had my secondary education in Colombo, Sri Lanka. At the end of our 13th year in school, we sit for the university entrance exam, called the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (A/L). In those days there was a scholarship scheme funded by an Australian aid programme, known as “AusAid,” which awarded a few scholarships to students who obtain excellent results at the A/L exam for their undergraduate studies in Australian universities. I managed to obtain excellent results at the A/L exam in physical science stream and I wanted to pursue a degree, in Electronics and Communication Engineering, mainly because I wanted to be an electronics and telecommunication engineer. While waiting for A/L results, I attended a workshop organised by the Arthur C. Clark Centre for Modern Technology in Sri Lanka, where I managed to learn about the latest developments and career prospects in communications and electronics at that time. So before I applied for the AusAid scholarship, I did some research on the EEE degree programmes in Australian universities. These included attending the Australian university information events organised in Sri Lanka, talking with representatives from major universities, and reading the prospectus and information modules offered in each degree programme. The EEE programme in the University of Adelaide attracted my interest mainly due to the range of subjects covered in the degree programme. It simply included the modules covering the applications ranging from micro volts to mega volts.
I received one of the 18 scholarships awarded to start the course in 1994. There were 8 students, 5 of whom were to study either EEE or CSE, having selected The University of Adelaide. We arrived in Adelaide in early 1994 and that was my first time in a foreign country. Soon Adelaide, the city and the university, became the home away from home. The first year was quite general and contained subjects from all engineering disciplines. We had to wait till the second semester to have “Electrical systems,” lectured by Prof. Bogner and Dr. Davis. I thought real EEE started from the second year. In addition to EEE subjects, during the second and third years we had to take Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science modules, which I found very useful for understanding the other EEE subjects. That also helped immensely in my subsequent research. The laboratory modules, Experimental Electrical Engineering II and III, were quite useful in understanding what we learned in the lectures. In level IV, I chose all my optional subjects in the signal processing, communications and digital systems fields. By that time my interests were mainly moving towards digital systems and signal processing, possibly due to my summer project on working on Asynchronous Microprocessors. One of my final year projects was on investigating noise in field effect transistors (FETs) with Dr. Abbott. This project also worked in stimulating my interests in pursuing a research career. In addition to regular subjects, we had the chance to attend specialist lectures given by departmental researchers and guest speakers. These research seminars were really helpful to get an idea of the research and practical trends in EEE and CSE.
After completion of the degree with first class honours and staying four unforgettable years in Adelaide, in 1998 I started reading for a Ph.D in the University of Bath in the U.K. I was awarded an industrial scholarship to pursue my research in Bath. My research was in video compression, which has now become a hot topic in EEE due to emerging multimedia technologies. Research in video coding includes aspects from signal and image processing and information theory. I completed my Ph.D in 2002 and received a European fellowship for postdoctoral research, to be carried out in two leading research institutes in Europe: CWI in The Netherlands and INRIA in France. My current research is mainly on image/video coding and analysis. A research career is very rewarding, mainly due to self satisfaction achieved from contributing towards theoretical and practical inventions and dissemination of such knowledge to the research community and for the benefit of the society. For me it all started from Adelaide and the degree from The University of Adelaide was the stepping stone for embarking on a great research career. More about my research and me can be found at www.charithmetic.org.
Brief biography: G. Charith K. Abhayaratne was born in Sri Lanka in 1972 and graduated from the Royal College high school. He received the B.E. (Hon. Class I) degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from The University of Adelaide, Australia in 1998 and the Ph.D degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Bath, U.K. in 2002. He received the AusAid Scholarship for his undergraduate studies and the Tandberg TV overseas research studentship for his graduate studies. He is a recipient of the ERCIM Research Fellowship based in two instutions, namely, INRIA, Sophia Antipolis, France and Centrum voor Wiskunde and Informatica (CWI) in The Netherlands. His research interests include video/image coding, wavelet transforms, texture analysis and content-based image retrieval.
For some unknown reason I've always had an interest in computers, as far back as I can remember. Finally when I was about 11 I was given my first computer, a Commodore 64. I turned it on and its low-resolution light blue text on dark blue background said 'ready', and the cursor blinked at me... it was a lot more exciting then than it sounds now. Naturally I started by playing a few games, always loaded by typing arcane commands, although my C64 was advanced at the time - having a floppy disk drive instead of using tapes. These were the days when the manual which came with the computer also taught you how to programme it - the C64 was able to directly run programmes written in BASIC. I spent some time hacking together my own BASIC programmes, with mixed success - eventually coming to the conclusion that programming was not to be the career for me.
A number of years and computer upgrades later (I now had a PC; a 386 with 4MB of RAM and a 40MB hard disk) I was in year 12. I knew I wanted to go to university but had to decide on a degree. Since I still had a non-specific interest in computers I chose Computer Systems Engineering at The University of Adelaide, since it was the highest-level computer related degree available.
It wasn't until second year that I discovered that my true passion for computers was programming, the very thing I'd sworn against those years before. I began to teach myself C, and after printing 'Hello World' I moved into graphics programming and learnt assembly language too. Together with some friends studying CSE and other Univ. Adelaide degrees we formed JiNX, a 'demo group' making 'demos' for fun; graphical and musical programmes built to show off. I developed a taste for 3D graphics - back then you had to calculate and draw each pixel yourself, not like now where the video card does it all for you. Although my Data Structures and Algorithms lectures on binary search trees might not have seemed very interesting at the time, when I applied the techniques to part of my 3D rendering code and achieved huge speed increases, I wasn't complaining!
During third year as a result of my demo-coding experience I was offered a job at the game developer Ratbag, to work on their first game due for release at the end of the next year. It would mean deferring fourth year of uni so I could work full time, but I jumped at the opportunity. Over the next two years I became lead programmer on the titles Powerslide and Dirt Track Racing, both of which received numerous awards from magazines and online media. Dirt Track Racing was the highest selling racing game in the US for a number of weeks in early 2000.
After about two and a half years at Ratbag I left and started my own company, Block Software. Through Block I spent two years doing contract programming for the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), the Defence Force's research organisation, working on missile simulation. It may seem like a big jump from games to missiles, but it's actually surprising how many similarities there are between the two fields. Besides that, it's the challenge of programming which keeps me hooked, rather than the specific field I work in.
Also through Block I continued to expand on my web development skills, which had started during first year writing HTML for the very first version of Netscape. I now host a number of websites for myself and clients, with various levels of dynamic content. This has led to my latest job which I have just started recently, for Industrial Software Solutions. Once again this is vastly different to what I was doing previously; this time using advanced web technologies to develop process control software, for the oil and gas industries.
Although I deferred fourth year I didn't want to give up on my degree, having already completed three quarters of it. So, starting from the year after and while continuing to work full time I began to finish my final year at about quarter time. Three years later I still had 6 months to go, but this was complicated by the fact that I had moved to Perth to live. The engineering department and my remaining subject lecturers very graciously allowed me to study those subjects by downloading course notes from the web, and submitting assignments via email. I returned to Adelaide for a couple of weeks to sit my last four exams, and finally I had completed my degree!
Looking back at my uni education, I can't say that any subject specifically taught my how to do any of the jobs I've had so far in my career. With so many possible career paths for a CSE graduate, how could it? However, it taught me more important things, such as how to learn and how to apply my knowledge, which is critical to developing software using emerging technologies. In addition, at various stages during my career I have had to draw upon the general knowledge I acquired at uni, such as algebra, calculus, physics, control, data structures, and so on. Most importantly, during my time at uni I made a number of excellent lasting friendships. The old JiNX group is still alive after seven years!
Brief biography: Saxon was born in 1977 and graduated from Marryatville High School in 1994. He studied the first three years of a Computer Systems Engineering (CSE) degree at The University of Adelaide from 1995 to 1997, deferring fourth year during1998 after an offer of work from Ratbag, a game developer. From 1999 to mid-2002 he completed the final year of his degree part time, graduating with First Class Honours. He was Lead Programmer at Ratbag from 1998 to 2000, Director of his own company Block Software and contracted to DSTO from 2001 to 2003, and is now a Senior Software Engineer for Industrial Software Solutions, based in Perth. He is a member of the Institution of Engineers, Australia (IEAust), theAssociation of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA), and the Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA).
I never felt as if I had a defining moment or an inherent understanding during my childhood that electronic engineering was the profession for me, but after my first job working in IC design I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Growing up on a farm in rural South Australia and attending an area school, with less than 250 students total from years 1 to 12, never offered great exposure to the technological fields of engineering and electronics or opportunities to investigate what a career in the field had to offer. For me it was more the influence of family members that drove me to study electronic engineering at university. I believe that I inherited my practical and ingenuity skills from my father who has a fantastic ability for understanding, fixing and constructing mechanical and electrical systems – and of course he has two of every tool that you can imagine in the shed. I always seemed to have a project or idea that I was working on, which usually involved lots of welding and angle grinding – a slightly larger scale than the 0.13 µm minimum feature integrated circuits that I work on these days, but nevertheless that’s where my love for making things originated. Under the influence of my twin brother, Karl, I found myself destroying old electronic devices and trying to reuse parts for our own circuits – most of which never came to fruition, but they were of course all great ideas. In this respect I suppose little has changed with my current “after work” project, a 175 W multi channel guitar amplifier, although I’ve already tested the preamplifier and it works! Anyway, without too much thought or certainty Karl and I both decided to do electronic engineering at The University of Adelaide commencing in 1997.
University life and study proved to be the most challenging, yet memorable four years of my life. I could have done without the periodical all-night sessions in the computer suite, finishing assignments, but the knowledge gained and the implementation of the theory to real problems was instrumental. One fond memory I have of my EE education was the opportunity to travel with a group of mainly postgraduate students to Melbourne to present a paper on my final year project topic at the annual MEMS and Micro Structures Conference. It was a fantastic trip both socially and professionally and helped to develop skills such as technical paper writing and presentation. The university environment also manifested irreplaceable friendships; people with common interests both inside and outside university. If you take the good (schnitzels at the unibar and pub crawls), with the bad (8am lectures and microwave electromagnetic theory), it's often tempting to go back for more. Surprisingly, as the work load, difficulty and number of exams increased from year to year, so did my results. After plenty of hard work and sacrifice of social life I had been offered a contract to work alongside Neil Weste at Radiata Communications (since acquired by Cisco Systems) in Sydney before the end of my final year.
In February of 2001 I started work at Cisco as a digital hardware design engineer and a member of a team continuing the development of a baseband modem chip for the IEEE 802.11 wireless LAN protocol. This chip is now appearing in Cisco’s WLAN products and the second generation chip has been fabricated, which is an extremely satisfying feeling. I’ve also started working in the analog/RF IC design domain investigating the porting of various 5 GHz radio circuits from standard CMOS to a SiGe bipolar process. The opportunity to travel internationally for work is another exciting benefit of EE engineering – I’ve recently returned from a week long training course in Lausanne, Switzerland followed by two weeks holiday in Europe where I made valuable connections with engineers from Israel, Germany, Holland, Switzerland and England – I had the time of my life. Working as an IC designer I find that everyday I’m presented with new problems and challenges and am always forced to extend my knowledge through self-education.
All in all, if you have an interest in technology, travel, how things work and making some really cool stuff then I highly recommend a career in electronic engineering. I still vividly remember Karl and I being asked for our photos next to Anthony Parker, the then Head of the EEE Department, at graduation both holding first class honours certificates… I suppose it was a rare event to have twins graduating with the same degree, and a jubilation that I’ll never forget.
Brief biography: Adam Lauterbach was born in 1979 in Murray Bridge, South Australia, attending Geranium Primary School and then Coomandook Area School. He received a Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering with First Class Honours in December 2000 at The University of Adelaide. Since 2001 Adam has been working in Sydney for Cisco Systems (formally Radiata) as part of the digital and analog/RF IC design teams developing chip sets for the IEEE 802.11 Wireless LAN protocol.
Why did I choose to do Electrical and Electronic Engineering? Well, there are a number of factors that led me down this path. Firstly, as a kid I loved pulling things apart – some would say this was me just being destructive, but I argue that it was my fascination with discovering how things worked that led to this behaviour. Engineering seemed a perfect outlet for my inquisitive nature. I also loved playing with computers. Whether it was beating my previous score on games like Loderunner or helping to install computer networks at primary schools whilst doing work experience at an Apple Dealer, I was never far from a computer (except on the cricket field!). Therefore, EEE seemed an ideal match – we didn’t have Computer Systems Engineering back then. Thirdly, I was really good at Maths and Physics at school (some would say it was in my genes) but I wanted to do something more practical than a Science degree – EEE fit the bill. Fourthly, I loved electronic toys and gadgets – I also wanted to be the first with the new CD player, computer game console etc – I thought EEE would give me a chance to help develop some of these gadgets. Finally, my parents’ house was a home away from home for a number of Indian students during my childhood years. Many of these students were doing PhDs in EEE. This gave me an early exposure and understanding of what EEE was all about and I was really excited by some of the work they were doing.
I am often asked why did I do a PhD and did it help me in my career. The answer to the first question is that I was really interested in research at the time and the organisation I worked for (DSTO) really encouraged people to do PhDs. I chose a field that was closely aligned to my work, but also one that really interested me, namely Control Systems. I really enjoyed the Control Systems course in final year and had a great interest in some of its practical uses, e.g. ABS for vehicles, control systems for aircraft, ships and so-on. As for whether it helped me in my career, the topic I chose was definitely of relevance to my work at DSTO and so that was very beneficial to my career there. The soft skills that I developed such as time management (I often say a PhD is the best example of time management - you need to finish your thesis around the time your scholarship runs out!), perseverance, ingenuity, lateral thinking and presentation skills have been of immense benefit to my career at DSTO and Motorola. Plus I can use the corny phrase, "Trust me I am a doctor."
So did I make the right decision? Well, I’ve been able to work with bleeding edge technology, travel the world, work with some fantastic and switched on people, been involved in solving some really interesting technical problems and helped develop some really cool products and systems. Very few professions give you such opportunities. So the answer is a definite yes! Oh yeah, I still get to play with the latest toys and gadgets!
Brief biography: Sanjay Mazumdar was born in Adelaide in 1969 and attended Norwood High School. He received a First Class Honours Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1991, PhD degree in 1995 and a Professional Certificate in Management in 2002, all from The University of Adelaide. Sanjay worked for the Defence Science Technology Organisation from 1990 until 1997 - his last position there was as a Research Scientist with the Weapons Systems Division where he was actively involved in Guidance, Control and Navigation R&D. Sanjay has been with Motorola’s Global Software Group (GSG) since 1997 where he has performed both technical and managerial roles primarily in the areas of smartcards, security/cryptography and mobile applications. He currently heads up the Software Security department within GSG-Australia. Sanjay’s other interests include spending time with his family and supporting the Crows.
Edward "Ned" Moorfield
Within 5 months of walking out of Bonython Hall in my gown I found myself in Europe working for the 3rd largest robotics company in the world in Augsburg, Germany. The path to here has been a combination of hard work, persistence, and the help of others, particularly through the AIESEC graduate exchange program. Above all though it has been thanks to the qualifications that I earned through the department. There is no doubt in my mind that these qualifications have already, and will continue to open up many new doors.
The decision to pursue a career in technology was something I decided on fairly early and seemed like a natural progression from my days of tinkering around on the old Commodore 64, pulling apart circuits, and trying to construct strange contraptions for my walky talky so I could pick up other signals. In high school, though, what really drove me to enroll in the B.E (CSE) was the desire to gain an understanding of the complex technology that drives daily life. I’m not just talking about the ugly square things that sit on our desks but also the army of microprocessors doing tasks from controlling our laundry washer to monitoring power plant emissions every day. I wasn’t satisfied to merely know that it worked, I wanted to know how it worked, and even more so I wanted to know how I could use it do more interesting stuff, not just have a line repeat what I typed on the screen.
At Adelaide Uni, it didn't take me long to begin wondering why my fellow EEE students and I were struggling to keep up with the 38 contact hours a week in 1st year (I think they call this the shock therapy), whilst students in other subjects got it so easy. Luckily things settled down and in 2nd year I chose to change my enrolment to a combined degree with a Bachelor of Arts. No it wasn’t so I could enjoy the good life of 10 contact hours a week but because another passion of mine is politics and I wanted to combine both of my interests while at Uni. The year I spent concentrating on my Arts subjects also gave me enough time to complete a twelve month part-time traineeship with EDS just up the road on North Terrace. This traineeship was crucial in giving me the necessary experience to gain my current position and I strongly recommend to any new students to gain as much experience as you can while you are at Uni.
I have a lot of really great memories of the University, especially of the friendships that I formed during my studies. One of the great aspects of an Engineering degree is that the intensity of the course means that you develop strong friendships with those around you. Another great aspect of this intensity is the reward when making it through the most grueling parts of the degree. All night sessions in the computer suite, in the lead up to handing in your final year projects, may not sound like that much fun but the reward in completing such demanding projects makes up for it, especially on graduation day. Also sitting 8 exams in 10 days may not sound like that much fun, but the reward in getting through it is a great feeling.
The work I do for my employer, Kuka Roboter, developing software to control and communicate with the robots, is both interesting and challenging and allows me to utilise many of the generic skills I developed while at University. It’s also allowing me to tap into the passion that drove me towards this field in the first place by using technology to create new and interesting solutions.
If you have an interest in understanding complex technologies and you want to be challenged by your studies then you will get a lot out of the courses offered by the EEE department. Also, if you are interested in working overseas once you have graduated then I recommend getting in touch with the local AIESEC Adelaide University office on 8303 5909. Who knows, you might just get to make interesting stuff as well one day. Living and working overseas is a great experience and having a qualification like a B.E under your belt helps to create a lot of exciting opportunities abroad.
Brief biography: Ned Moorfield was born in April 1980 in South Australia and attended Pembroke School. He received a Bachelor of Computer Systems Engineering with Honours, and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics in 2002 at The University of Adelaide. Ned worked as a trainee for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in Adelaide in 2001 and is now working in software development for KUKA Roboter GmbH in Augsburg, Germany.
It is of course a slightly biased opinion, but working as an engineer in new technology fields has to be one of the most interesting and challenging professions around today. The opportunity to steer the way the world develops, designing and creating the technology that is part of all aspects of our everyday lives, is truly amazing.
I spent most of my school years with no intention of being an engineer. But luckily, my interest in Maths and Sciences eventually led me to the EEE degree at The University of Adelaide. I completed my degree in 1995 and moved to Sydney to work for Telstra, following an interest in telecoms developed through my final year project. Five years later I was working as a Senior Network Engineer in Telstra’s International Group, responsible for engineering design of the exchanges and systems carrying all Telstra’s telephone traffic into and out of Australia.
Just over 2 years ago I moved to the UK to work for Siemens Communications as a Technical Sales Manager – technically supporting sales of large scale equipment to carriers such as British Telecom and Vodafone. I’ve no doubt that if I hadn’t been working in such a highly valued field with such well recognised qualifications it would have been much more difficult to follow the dream of living and working overseas.
Whilst work experience has given me the technical training in my particular field, the degree from The University of Adelaide is what has given me the essentials for logical thinking, communications and problem solving, vital in today’s technology market. My time at The University of Adelaide was a fantastic experience and one that’s left me with great friendships and memories and, through my career, is still leading me on to amazing new arenas.
Brief biography: Yasmin Narielvala was born in Adelaide, August 1974, and attended Seymour College. She completed the The University of Adelaide Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Degree, graduating with First Class Honours in 1996. She joined Telstra Australia in Sydney in February 1996 and worked part-time to complete a Master of Commerce Degree at the University of Sydney in 1999. After 5 years with Telstra, she joined Siemens Communications UK as a Technical Sales Manager.
I’d like to say that I wanted to be an Electrical and Electronic Engineer from day one, but first I considered mathematics and science teaching, then law, and finally engineering. My high school teachers suggested to my parents that I look more at applied science rather than teaching. In watching the workings of a local Magistrates Court, on a school visit, I decided law didn’t hold enough excitement for me. Truth be known, I was probably born an Engineer. Robert Lucky wrote an article in IEEE Spectrum once asking “Are Engineers Born or Made?” Lucky quipped, “You can tell an Engineer, when born they come out looking at the forceps with a look on their face as much as to say ‘I could have designed them better’. ” I showed that article to my Mum and she said, “Yep. That was you.”
My Dad was effectively an engineer, my Dad’s Dad likewise, so it is no surprise that I am engineer. I spent time with the proverbial Lego™, Mechano™, electronics kit, and helping my Dad building all sorts of things around the house. In high school I did work experience as a Chemical Engineer and after a week of collecting mud samples to analyse I decided that wasn’t for me. The next year I did work experience with Adelaide Brighton Cement in their drawing office and I got to explore most of their plant and do such fun things that I decided engineering was for me. My Dad suggested that I not be a civil engineer and mechanical engineering looked fairly dirty, so electronic engineering it was. Oh, and as for medicine, the mere thought of a needle would have made me faint, and as for blood, oh no.
With lots of hard work I matriculated and I was accepted into Electrical and Electronic Engineering at The University of Adelaide. I did extra subjects in first year and not finding anything that I disliked about the course. I stayed when many students changed around at the end of their first year. As the course progressed, and a few more periods of work experience in Port Pirie with the Broken Hill Associated Smelters, I realised more and more that I had made the right choice. By the final year I absolutely adored Electrical and Electronic Engineering, with the great lecturers such as Douglas Pucknell, Bruce Davis, Tony Parker and Cheng-Chew Lim to name but a few.
With the option of one more year for one more degree, I continued on to complete my Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences. Coming to the end of that degree, I applied for work and for postgraduate study and was fortunate enough to win scholarships to do a PhD in mobile communications. Mobile communications wasn’t something that I chose, but my supervisor was to be Dr. Bruce Davis, one of the renowned lecturers in the department, and so I was very excited about continuing my study and joining a few friends who had already started studying PhD and Masters degrees. We shared an office, had a great time, and I got to travel to Finland to present a paper that let the travel bug bite me, and I haven’t stopped travelling since. As of the time of writing I’ve been to thirty countries across five of the seven continents, fourteen states of the USA, all of the states and territories of Australia, and already I’m planning my next holiday.
I graduated with my PhD in 1995 and started with the The University of Adelaide, Centre for Telecommunications Information Networking (CTIN), created by Prof. Reg Coutts, yet another PhD student of Prof. Bruce Davis. CTIN was a fantastic experience and this really struck my interest in wireless telecommunications. The CTIN had engineers, economists and social scientists, and took a multidisciplinary approach to telecommunications. This was the time when Australia was undergoing deregulation, new mobile networks, and the introduction of competition in the industry. The mid 1990’s were a very exciting time in mobile communications. With the CTIN, I worked for telecommunications operators, manufacturers, governments, private and public research institutes, in both Australia and overseas. One day I would be working for a one person start up company, and the next day I was on the Prime Minister’s Science and Engineering Council (1997).
After three and a half years with CTIN I joined Motorola, where I initially got to work on the emerging area of Telematics (combined communications and positioning systems in the vehicle environment). Subsequently working in the area of network management, the management systems of cellular networks, I have now helped create in Australia exploratory work in the area of Personal Telematics. The rapidity of our progress towards Personal Telematics is very exciting and for those who truly understand the technology-market-regulation interaction, this offers the potential to stimulate the market to an even greater extent than mobile communications has done.
My time at CTIN gave me this broader view of the role of engineering, and in the year 2001 I commenced a Masters degree with the University of Adelaide and the University of Texas at Austin. The new degree, a Masters of Science and Technology Commercialisation, introduced me to yet more brilliant lecturers and equally fascinating and amazing class mates from a whole manner of backgrounds – law, dentistry, microbiology, the Navy, the building industry, the finance industry, other engineering industries, and agriculture. My Masters degree was very valuable and to me it met the goal of helping me to become a better engineer. After all, engineering is the application of science for the benefit of society and while engineers are often very good at the application of science it is important not to forget the second part, “for the benefit of society.”
I now work as a Product Engineer for Motorola and my Masters degree has been invaluable in helping me bring my ideas to reality. I would not change one aspect of my development to date and I look forward to continuing to develop into a great engineer. I encourage anyone with a passion for engineering to pursue it and to do postgraduate study. But remember, engineering is the application of science for the benefit of society – seek to understand the perspectives of others and value their contribution and that will make you a great engineer.
Brief biography: Derek Rogers was born in March 1969 at Semaphore in South Australia. He attended Largs Bay Primary School and the then named Taperoo High School. Derek completed his Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering with First Class Honours in 1991, winning a number of scholarships and prizes through out his degree. In 1992, Derek completed his second degree a Bachelor of Mathematical and Computer Sciences with a double major in Applied Mathematics and Computer Sciences. In 1995, Derek completed his PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering specialising in mobile telecommunications. After three and a half years with the Centre for Telecommunications Information Networking, an Adelaide University startup company, Derek joined Motorola in Adelaide where he has won several awards and published numerous papers, and has a current patent application with a colleague in the newly emerging area of Personal Telematics. In 2003, Derek graduated with a Masters of Science and Technology Commercialisation (International) between the University of Adelaide and University of Texas at Austin. For this degree, Derek was awarded a special leadership award, the first non-US person to receive the rare award. Derek is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE), member of the Institution of Engineers, Australia (IEAust), and member of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists, and Managers, Australia (APESMA). Derek continues to contribute to the University in a number of ways from postgraduate PhD supervision, to support of the Barr Smith Library, the Science Faculty, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Medical Research Foundation, and involvement in the activities of two Alumni associations.
I am a lead architect on a microprocessor project and manage a group of architects who design various components in the core. I am responsible for the design, the RTL code description and meeting performance, power and area goals. My time is split between solving problems related to the function of the microprocessor core, coding new features, directing work to fix bugs found by the validation team and re-organising the design to allow circuit implementation to proceed. We use a lot of CAD tools. I also spend time doing performance studies, assessing the impact of new architectural features and validating the performance of HPTC benchmarks such as Linpack. I also attend meetings with other disciplines, architects from other boxes and meetings with OEM customers.
The PhD engineering degree from The University of Adelaide was crucial to my career as it enabled me to join the best microprocessor team in the world. This degree has given me the training and background to conduct research in this field which I use in my job every day. I also acquired skills in a range of areas related to my day to day work including arithmetic, architecture, circuit design, layout and validation. Knowledge in all these areas is useful when trying to create a from-scratch complex design.
Brief biography: Andrew Beaumont-Smith was born in 1967 and attended Scotch College. He received a BE (Hons) in 1990, an MEngSci in 1995 and completed his PhD in 2001, all at the University of Adelaide. His PhD was in the area of VLSI design. Andrew worked for the Alpha Development Group at the Compaq Corp., in Boston, USA for a year and is now working as a Senior Microprocessor Architect for Intel in Boston, USA.
During my studies at Adelaide, the idea of pursuing further studies in another country started to form in my head. By the time I had written my final exams, I was already enrolled in the Master of Science in Communications Engineering program in Munich, Germany. After finishing the two years Masters course, I went on to do my PhD also in Munich at the same university. Another four years later (now), I have just handed in my PhD thesis and have started working at Rohde and Schwarz which is one of the worlds leading companies in measurement, test and radio equipment for communication systems. My degree from Adelaide University (together with motivation and hard work!) has certainly allowed me to realise my potential and to take many, exciting, further steps in my life and career.
Brief biography: Andrew Schaefer was born in 1978 in Adelaide and attended Daws Road High School and finally Concordia College. In 1998 he received his Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering with first class honours from the University of Adelaide. In 2000 he received his Master of Science in Communications Engineering Degree from the Munich University of Technology and in 2004 completed his PhD in communications engineering also at the Munich University of Technology. He now works as a development engineer in communications systems for Rohde and Schwarz in Germany.
My reasons for doing electronic engineering at The University Adelaide were unclear, although I was interested in computers and my father always said I would make a good engineer (maybe he thought on the railroad!). In 1983, when I started engineering, I had actually never used or seen a real computer (growing up at Papunya, a remote settlement in the Northern Territory, the whole concept of technology stopped and started with my father's Codan Two Way Radio).
My days at Uni were fantastic and I was always determined to enjoy the process, even if that did mean failing 2nd year. Prof. Bob Bogner, Bruce Davis, Andrew Downing, Mike Gibbard and Tony Parker were all legendary in their own way. I never really thought too much about where I was going to work, maybe I thought I would never graduate. Anyway, final year came, I was offered several jobs, including one in Sydney at OTC (now part of Telstra) and one in Adelaide with a start up company called Quest. The concept of autonomy and freedom led me to join Quest part-time in 1987 (during my final year). Working part-time caused my final year project to suffer, so in hindsight I think Prof. Bogner falling asleep during my project presentation was not such a bad thing.
Quest in the early days was a relatively hard slog, we expanded to 3 people by 1990 and then had reduced to 1 (me) by 1994. However, there were great experiences in those struggling years and during that time I had the opportunity to visit many places around the world with my work. I also used the time to do some post graduate studies, which I would thoroughly recommend.
Gradually with commitment & belief, things began to move in the right direction. We learnt, we developed, we got some runs on the board. By 1997 we had 6 employees.
Since then Quest has grown to more than 30 employees, including a base in the USA with 5 staff. Major customers include Suncorp Stadium, AAMI Stadium & TelstraDome, also Mile High Stadium in Denver and about 20 other stadiums around the world. We have thousands of our intelligent cash registers in Bakers Delight, Donut King, Muffin Break and most pubs and clubs around Australia and NZ. Nearly 50% of our revenue comes from export to over 17 countries.
Adelaide is a great home base for a business, the costs are low, the way of life is fantastic and we have access to the best engineers in the world (maybe I am a little biased). Adelaide University has a fantastic process of developing engineers that can think outside the square, engineers that can deal with completely unfamiliar problems in a systematic way and go on "self-learning" for the rest of their lives.
Brief biography: Tim was born in 1965 and attended Immanuel College as a boarder from 1978-82. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours from The University of Adelaide University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Technology Management from Deakin University. Tim is General Manager of Quest Retail Technology, in Adelaide, a company that develops, manufactures and sells Point-of-Sale software & hardware into the hospitality industry. Tim was awarded a Young Achievers Award in 1990 and an Engineering Excellence Award in 1995. He is also President of the Electronics Industry Association (representing over 400 companies and 9000 employees of the South Australian Electronics Industry). Tim is married with a young family and thinks South Australia has the best red wine in the world.
Anthony "Tony" Zyweck
I started my Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree at The University of Adelaide in 1985. I'm not sure why I chose it, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I took a year out to do Computer Science and earned the double degree. In 1990 when I graduated, the job market was pretty robust and most graduates had 3-4 jobs to choose from. I applied for at job at DSTO as an Engineer. The interview went well and at its conclusion they said you have a job but we have another offer for you. They said "How would you like to do a PhD in neural networks and radar?" Well, I hesitated for a moment and they came back back to me with "OK. How about we send you to an overseas conference, and you can have a think about it?" Well this sounded cool so I took them up on the offer. In a few weeks time I was attending Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS90) in the ski resort of Keystone, Colorado. Needless to say I had an excellent time and I thought "this PhD life is pretty good!"
Previously I had quite enjoyed campus life so I thought another few years at Uni wouldn't be a bad thing, particularly since I was getting paid by DSTO to study. I started my postgraduate studies with the famous Professor Bob Bogner a few weeks after I got back from skiing.
I took my time completing my PhD in "Preprocessing Issues in High Resolution Radar Target Classification." and graduated in 1995. In the end there was no mention of neural networks in my thesis, only radar. This was a reflection of my Sponsor's interests and the fact that they were paying the bills! I started with Microwave Radar Division at DSTO in 1995 and spent a year working on the AEW&C project. An opportunity came up and I was offered a two year posting in Texas to work with a US company that was building the new radar for the AP3C Maritime Patrol aircraft. The overseas posting was excellent and I returned two years later without a Texan drawl. I spent another couple of years working with the AP3C radar and I then took a promotion in Weapon Systems Division in 1999. I suppose I wanted to get closer to the killing . . . only joking! Anyway, I have spent the last few working on the AIM-120 AMRAAM long range radar guided air-to-air missile. This has been quite enjoyable and my many years of training in signal processing has been very useful.
I still keep in contact with many of my colleagues from University days. Having travelled extensively and also worked with Engineers from many nations I can confidently say that The University of Adelaide education is easily on par with the best Universities around the world. When the cost of the education is also taken into account then it can be seen that a degree from Adelaide University represents excellent value for money.
Brief biography: Anthony Zyweck was born in Adelaide, 1967, and graduated from Findon High School in the class of '84. He graduated with B.Sc. (Maths) from The University of Adelaide in 1989. He received an Undergraduate Cadetship from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation in 1988 and 1989. In 1990 he graduated with a B.E. (1st Class Honours) from the University of Adelaide and he joined the Defence Science and Technology Organisation as an Engineer. In 1990 he returned to The University of Adelaide to study for a PhD. He completed his PhD entitled “Preprocessing Issues in High Resolution Radar Target Classification” in 1995 and returned to Surveillance System Division, DSTO as a Research Scientist. In 1995 he began an 18 month attachment at Raytheon E-Systems in Greenville, TX, USA. During this attachment he provided radar performance advice related to the acquisition of the AP3C EL/M 2022 V(3) maritime surveillance radar. In 1998 Dr. Zyweck completed a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment at the Securities Institute of Australia. In July 1999 he was promoted to Senior Research Scientist in RF Seekers Group, Weapons Systems Division. Since 1999 he has run the Australian AMRAAM research program. The AMRAAM program has involved HIL testing, flight testing and various simulation and modelling activities. His active research interests include radar, and EW signal processing and financial modelling.
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