From the Head of Department, December 2016

Bert Veenendaal

As we approach the close of another year, I’d like to firstly acknowledge the tremendous effort of staff who have contributed to the teaching, research and outreach programs of spatial sciences. I’d like to extend a special thanks to two of our staff who retired this year, Emeritus Professor Geoff West and Dr Robert Corner. Both have contributed substantially to the teaching and research programs in spatial sciences and will continue to support us in the short term with higher degree student supervision.

Much has been accomplished in a year that has seen some tightening because of the economic downturn. Along with the expected slight decrease in overall numbers of students, there was growth in the numbers of honours students and PhD students. There was also an increase in research activity partly due to the first full year of operation of the Spatial Research Hub (SRH). In the first 10 months of activity, the SRH has generated half a dozen research projects worth over $500k, with many project applications and initiatives currently in the pipeline. Details of some of these projects are provided elsewhere in this issue.

I’d like to thank the very many industry, government and professional organisations and persons who extended their support and contributions over the past year. While they are too many to name here, the activities, awards and collaborations you have been involved in are crucial to building our educational programs and research collaborations. That industry-education linkage is crucial for attracting and growing top quality knowledge and skills among our graduates who are the future of our spatial industry.
We are continuing to expand our international collaborations with educational partners. In October I visited Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, and signed a memorandum of understanding that formalises our existing relationship for some years. Additionally, last month I was at the University of Calgary, Canada, to finalise an agreement at the Science and Engineering Faculty level, which includes the spatial sciences areas. We expect our activities in both teaching and research to grow with these partners, with whom we have had good relationships and productive activities for some years.

Finally, as you may already be aware, I am stepping down from my position as Head of Department as of the end of this year, having been in this role for over 10 years. I am very grateful to the spatial sciences staff and students that I have been privileged to work with over this period; their tremendous support and collegiality has certainly made my job easier and has been instrumental in allowing the Department to grow three-fold over the past decade. I certainly wish A/Professor Jon Kirby well as he takes over the helm and leads this Department through the next years of further growth, success and expanding horizons!

May you all have a festive and relaxing Christmas, New Year’s and holidays as you recharge your batteries for tackling a new year of spatial sciences endeavours!