Student projects are producing practical results for big corporations such as Woodside Energy and Water Corporation.
They are two of the biggest partners and strongest supporters of the Co-operative Education for Enterprise Development program. CEED has been running at UWA for 21 years. It began in the engineering faculty and has spread to other areas, notably the Business School.
Honours, Masters, PhD or undergraduate students who must complete a project in the final year of their degree (as they do in engineering) are eligible to take part in a program which asks industry if they have a problem that students could solve for them through their academic projects.
CEED co-ordinator Associate Professor Jeremy Leggoe said it was one of the few such programs at universities around Australia. "Our students usually do work that is implemented right away," he said "It's a fantastic opportunity for them, and of course it's great for the companies who often ask us if we can help them with a problem they've been living with but never had the resources to do anything about."
One student paved the way for Chevron, one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, to change its practices in a particular area to maximise productivity and reduce capital expenditure. David Panic was one of 28 final year students who completed his project last year through the CEED program.
He was a mechanical engineering student and his CEED project looked at better understanding flow velocities and the effects of sand erosion in a big bore gas well. After his nine month project, Chevron had the capability to extend operating limits of big bore wells and a greater understanding of erosion mechanisms within a typical big bore gas well, which enabled development of practices that maximised productivity, and the potential to reduce or defer its capital expenditure.
Andrew House, senior petroleum engineer with Chevron's Wheatstone Project, said he was delighted with the outcome of the study.
"Chevron's investment in the CEED program has given us an insight into the pool of talent available and I would encourage others to participate in it. Perhaps it could form part of Chevron's recruitment strategy one day," he said.
CEED has run 50 projects over the past two years, bringing $800,000 in research funding into the University. Current project partners include Woodside Energy, Water Corporation, Main Roads WA, JP Kenny, Rio Tinto Iron Ore, BHP Iron Ore, Barrick Gold, Sentient Computing and Fremantle Ports.
Another of last year's participants was Sam Cleary, a final year Environmental Systems Engineering student. His project on strategic plantings to reduce stream salinity in the Warren River Catchment won the Water Corporation's final year project prize and the Australian Water Association's National Undergraduate of the Year Award.
A/Professor Leggoe and adjunct Associate Professor Margot Jupp have 24 students in the program this year. They are supported by administrative officer Adrienne Hondros.
"As well as providing practical education for the students, CEED is building links with industry which we hope to be able to build into deeper collaborations and arc linkage projects in the future," A/Professor Leggoe said.
The annual CEED seminar will be held at the University Club on September 29. All the current students will present their projects to their academic supervisors and industry mentors. They have all been involved in organising the dinner and proceedings.
Published in UWA News, 20 September 2010