Ed­u­ca­tion Na­tion

Curtin Uni­ver­sity looks to the fu­ture

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How do you plan the uni­ver­sity of the fu­ture? It’s a ques­tion that many of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions would be ask­ing them­selves as life­styles and work prac­tices rapidly evolve.

Pre­par­ing stu­dents to be com­pe­tent mem­bers of the greater so­cial con­struct isn’t so easy. It re­quires a vi­sion for the fu­ture, which is why Curtin Uni­ver­sity has hatched the Curtin Mas­ter Plan and Vi­sion for 2030 as an ex­ten­sion of its com­mit­ment to in­no­va­tion.

The Mas­ter Plan is de­signed to show­case knowl­edge, cre­ate vi­brant com­mu­ni­ties and stim­u­late eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. As part of the Mas­ter Plan, Curtin’s main Perth cam­pus is be­ing fur­ther de­vel­oped as an im­por­tant eco­nomic and in­no­va­tive hub.

It is hoped that this plan will

cap­i­talise on Curtin Uni­ver­sity’s stand­ing as a vi­tal cog amongst the largest con­cen­tra­tion of in­no­va­tive in­dus­try and re­search in Western Aus­tralia.

“The uni­ver­sity has for some time been fo­cused on how it po­si­tions it­self to be a core part of the ma­jor in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem of the fu­ture. The prod­uct of this think­ing is what we now call Greater Curtin,” says ViceChan­cel­lor Deborah Terry.

Pro­fes­sor Terry joined Curtin as Vice-Chan­cel­lor in 2014, fol­low­ing a 24-year ca­reer at the Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land and knows a thing or two about in­no­va­tion in the ter­tiary sys­tem.

She has a list of ac­co­lades to her name in­clud­ing an Or­der of Aus­tralia, but it is her po­si­tion on the Board of the Com­mit­tee for Perth and AARNET, the provider of Aus­tralia’s net­work in­fra­struc­ture for ed­u­ca­tion and re­search, that re­ally high­lights hers and the Uni­ver­sity’s com­mit­ment to strength­en­ing eco­nomic and so­cial pros­per­ity.

“By open­ing up the north part of our large Perth cam­pus, the Greater Curtin de­vel­op­ment is de­signed to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment for in­dus­try, academia and the com­mu­nity to bet­ter col­lab­o­rate, to in­no­vate, and to drive the ad­vances so es­sen­tial to our trans­form­ing econ­omy,” Pro­fes­sor Terry says.

“Greater Curtin in­cor­po­rates the el­e­ments that we know are crit­i­cal to de­liv­er­ing on the vi­sion of trans­form­ing the cam­pus into a vi­brant in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem: trans­port ac­ces­si­bil­ity; stu­dent and other short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion, meet­ing fa­cil­i­ties and ap­pro­pri­ate re­tail.

“Add to the mix an in­dus­try en­gaged, col­lab­o­ra­tive uni­ver­sity and you have all the in­gre­di­ents that we hope will at­tract our part­ners and col­lab­o­ra­tors to colo­cate with us on cam­pus.

“Uni­ver­si­ties need to play a crit­i­cal part in cre­at­ing a con­nected in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem, at the same time as pro­vid­ing stu­dents with a rich and en­gag­ing cam­pus en­vi­ron­ment that helps to build their grad­u­ate ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

The cur­rent mas­ter plan is de­signed to de­liver on the Uni­ver­sity’s vi­sion of be­ing a leader in this re­spect. At the same time, it should pro­vide stu­dents with the ex­pe­ri­ences that will po­si­tion them for fu­ture suc­cess, through their use of new co-work­ing spa­ces, en­tre­pre­neur­ial op­por­tu­ni­ties, and links with re­searchers and part­ners.

Western Aus­tralia seems the per­fect place to make this hap­pen.

We all know Western Aus­tralia as the hub of Aus­tralia’s re­sources in­dus­try. Even in the cur­rent re­sources down­turn, which now seems to be re­vers­ing, the sec­tor plays a vi­tal role in the Western Aus­tralian econ­omy.

Yet, in the down­turn, other in­dus­tries have come to the fore that are fully aligned with the Uni­ver­sity’s re­search and in­no­va­tion goals.

“Curtin is on an im­pres­sive up­ward tra­jec­tory. We want to build on this po­si­tion in the fu­ture. We have built up sig­nif­i­cant strengths in science and en­gi­neer­ing, many of which in­volve deep and long­stand­ing in­dus­try part­ner­ships.

“Our strengths align with the ma­jor pillars of WA’s econ­omy, in­clud­ing both re­sources and agri­cul­ture, and we pride our­selves on be­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive and easy for in­dus­try to in­ter­act with.”

Curtin is also broad­en­ing its re­search pro­file be­yond its tra­di­tional ar­eas of strength.

“We have ma­jor ca­pa­bil­i­ties across a wide range of ar­eas, in­clud­ing those that are so crit­i­cal to our fu­ture, such as dig­i­tal agri­cul­ture; de­fence and in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity; big data; ap­plied economics; clin­i­cal health tri­als, and a lead­ing in­volve­ment in one of the 21st cen­tury’s largest sci­en­tific projects, the Square Kilo­me­tre Ar­ray.

Curtin has a strong part­ner­ship with Bankwest through the Bankwest Curtin Economics Cen­tre, now a well-re­garded eco­nomic think tank lo­cated within the Uni­ver­sity’s Fac­ulty of Busi­ness and Law.

The Uni­ver­sity also hosts In­no­va­tion Cen­tral Perth, which con­nects com­pa­nies with tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions and sub­ject­mat­ter ex­perts from Cisco, and re­search ex­per­tise and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty from Curtin, Wood­side and Data61.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion is de­signed to de­liver dig­i­tal and data-driven so­lu­tions to busi­ness im­per­a­tives and chal­lenges.

Curtin’s other part­ners are broad and in­clude Al­coa, The Cancer Foun­da­tion, Fre­man­tle Dock­ers, NASA, BHP and Wood­side.

BHP and Wood­side are more tra­di­tional re­source in­dus­try part­ners and have worked closely with Curtin’s Western Aus­tralian School of Mines, which Pro­fes­sor Terry says is an im­por­tant part of the Uni­ver­sity.

Vice Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Deborah Terry AO

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