Connections with Germany on a roll

Designing Smarter Technologies

Joint research projects are paving the way for longer-term collaborations.

Links between Deakin researchers and colleagues in Germany are set to strengthen, with a number of collaborative projects planned for 2016.

The projects will help to forge closer ties between researchers in the two nations, with Australia’s research strengths to complement Germany’s strong record in research commercialisation.

Funded by the German Research Foundation, a group of 10 PhD students and their supervisor, Dr Enrico Bruder, from the Technical University Darmstadt, have just spent two weeks at Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM).

The visit signals the beginning of a relationship that will extend Deakin and Darmstadt students’ understanding of roll forming of ultra-high strength sheet metals and advanced manufacturing, embed intercultural experience, and, hopefully, lead to long-term collaboration between the two universities.

While at Deakin, the German students undertook a comprehensive program with 10 of their Australian PhD counterparts, met with numerous Deakin experts, saw demonstrations of the IFM facilities and explored parts of Victoria.

The IFM students will visit Darmstadt with their supervisor, Dr Matthias Weiss, for a summer school in June.

Dr Weiss noted that the students were focussing on researching ways to shape ultra-high strength sheet materials through roll forming and roll splitting – achieving value added and light weight components.

“The industry is moving towards flexible (3D) roll forming, with potential applications in industries such as automotive, construction and solar technology,” he said.

Dr Bruder added that Deakin was “the ideal partner” for his team at Darmstadt.

“There is a strong overlap between our institutions, especially in the areas of mechanical and advanced engineering and we each have complementary strengths.”
Dr Enrico Bruder Technical University Darmstadt

Two projects funded through Australia-Germany joint research scheme

In another first, two other Deakin research teams are set to collaborate with colleagues in Germany, through combined investment from Australian universities and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in the Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Scheme.

Also working on steel rolling, Associate Professor Rimma Lapovok, Dr Ilana Timokhina and Dr Jiangting Wangwill extend their research on “Enhanced Properties of TWIP Steels by Asymmetric Rolling” at RWTH Aachen University.

Associate Professor Lapovok said that Twinning Induced Plasticity (TWIP) steels offer strong potential for the automotive industry, with higher strength, hardening rate and ductility, compared to conventional steels that would result in lighter, stronger and cheaper vehicles.

“We hope to improve our understanding of specifics of different asymmetry rolling techniques, which should translate to better production processes in the next few years,” she said.

Dr Lisa Barnett, from Deakin’s School of Health and Social Development, received Deakin’s other DAAD grant. Dr Barnett, Dr Trina Hinkley (Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition) and PhD student Natalie Lander will research “Global Assessment of Children’s Motor Competence,” with colleagues from Stuttgart and Munich Universities.

“We are hoping to build capacity in this project, as well progressing important research in children’s physical activity levels, which have deteriorated significantly over the past two decades,” Dr Barnett said.

“One of the problems we will be addressing is the inconsistency of assessment criteria for measuring motor skill levels of children in different countries. We hope to develop a consistent and shorter set of criteria that will help us to see the big picture, so we can tease out what is working well and what isn’t working, and use to this to inform policy making.”

Professor Nadja Schott and a postdoctoral student (University of Stuttgart) and Professor Maike Tietjens and a PhD student (University of Muenster) have also just completed a two-week visit to Deakin.

During this period they met with Deakin staff from the Schools of Health and social Development, Exercise and Nutrition, Psychology and Information Technology. They delivered seminars on their program of work and a statistical methods seminar on innovative methods for analysing data to around 50 staff.

Dr Barnett said that, apart from progressing the proposed grant, new links have been made across Deakin University, with potential to grow new projects in Information Technology and Exercise Physiology.

Some other Deakin – Germany collaborations taking place at Deakin this year include:

  • Professor Nilmini Wickramasinghe (Faculty of Health), “Big Data Analytics for Optimal Healthcare Operations.”
  • Professor Christoph Antons (Deakin Law School), “FAO and UNESCO Approaches to Agricultural Heritage and Biodiversity Conservation in Developing Asia.”
  • Dr Linda Hobbs (School of Arts and Ed), “International collaboration in science and mathematics teacher learning.”
  • Dr Cristina Pozo-Gonzales (IFM), “Novel bifunctional carbon electrocatalysts for advance metal air batteries.”
IFM The Institute for Frontier Materials

Recognised as one of Australia's leading materials research organisations, the Institute for Frontier Materials' mission is to foster innovation and excellence in materials science and engineering research.