Head of Department recap

Professor Bert Veenendaal
Head of Department, Professor Bert Veenendaal.

A group of fourth-year Spatial Sciences students are reflecting on their valuable experiences in the recently held survey expedition. For two weeks in July, they endured harsh West Australian outback conditions, together with some Curtin staff and experienced senior retired surveyors, to survey and map a number of disused water catchment areas. This is an example of excellent opportunities provided to students to build their knowledge and skills, as well as resilience! Thank you to the organisers and the sponsors of this expedition.

I’ll like to express my congratulations to retiring staff member Professor Geoff West who was awarded the prestigious title of Emeritus Professor, recognising his 26-year contribution and notable achievements in his distinguished service to Curtin.  Further, I’d like to thank Dr Robert Corner for his 16-year contribution to the Department, as he is also retiring this year. I very much look forward to their continuing contribution to the Department and student learning as both Geoff and Rob will contribute to co-supervision of postgraduate research students in their roles as Emeritus Professor and Adjunct, respectively.

There is much discussion about the effect of the slowing economy on student numbers and employment opportunities. Within higher education, student intake for 2016 has been quite varied across different disciplines, with the education programs in the resources sector bearing the brunt of fewer students. However, the spatial sciences programs have fared reasonably well, judging from the initial start of year numbers and the increase in the mid-year July intake of students. Although the mine and engineering surveying student intake is down, the surveying program has attracted an increased intake of new students, and GIScience has held with some weakness in the graduate international coursework numbers. Of course many of these students will graduate in three or four years’ time, when we expect changes towards a strengthening economy and improvement in the jobs market.

This issue also highlights the many award and scholarship winners from the annual Spatial Sciences Awards Ceremony held in May. I’d like to congratulate all the winners, and also those who didn’t make the winning positions, but who put in a tremendous effort to achieve good results. Also, thank you to the many industry, government and professional sponsors who support the recognition of student excellence and promote the spatial sciences disciplines.

The first Spatial Sciences Research Symposium was held in May in the Curtin Business School on Wellington Street, downtown Perth. Eleven higher degree research students presented to peers, staff and industry partners to give a wide display of the fabulous spatial research that takes place. Thanks to the students who put in this tremendous effort, and also to the excellent supervisors and industry partners that provided the guidance, excellent knowledge and skills, and support needed to get good research outcomes.

The Spatial Research Hub continues to make inroads into the research opportunities that exist, by building the collaborative networks of industry partners, focusing on the key research questions used to advance our industry, and attracting the funding and resources required to do the task. Congratulations to Mike Ridout who has accepted the role of Business Development Manager to assist in bringing these opportunities into fruition. The next six months will see a flurry of activities and outcomes; more on this in the next issue.