More than $3 million in Australian Research Council funding has been awarded to RMIT to establish a new centre that will support the transformation of the nation’s automotive industry.
Funded by the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub scheme, the RMIT Centre in Lightweight Automotive Structures brings together 31 world-leading scientists and industrial engineers from 16 organisations from Australia, Germany, UK, and the USA.
Professor Calum Drummond, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and Vice-President, said the grant builds on the University's commitment to help shape a vibrant Australian manufacturing sector in the global economy.
“RMIT’s distinctive approach to connected education and research links creative ideas with technical knowledge and focuses on the challenges and opportunities emerging around the world,” he said.
“Australia’s automotive industry is undergoing a major structural change, due to the cessation of motor vehicle assembly by the end of 2017.
“This places more than 260 local component manufacturers, which form Australia’s automotive supply chain, under extreme pressure.
“The new centre aims to assist the transformation of Australia’s automotive industry from vehicle production to exporting engineering services and locally manufactured high-value products.”
The strategic partnership with Ford Motor Company, Deakin University, the Australian National University, Australian Rollforming Manufacturers, Composite Materials Engineering, Quickstep Automotive, Capral Aluminium, MTM, CSIRO, dataM, Sheet Metal Solutions, Shape Corporation, University of Bristol, Michigan Technological University, Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen, and Imperial College London will collectively invest $11.6 million over five years to train industry-focused researchers.
Wang said the aim was to develop new lightweight materials, advanced manufacturing processes, energy storage designs, and rapid non-destructive evaluation techniques, which are a key to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in transportation.
“More importantly, we hope the centre will accelerate the transformation of Australia's automotive industry – now facing unprecedented structural adjustment – from vehicle production to the export of design and engineering services, high-value products and novel technology solutions.”
The ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub scheme is designed to engage Australia's best researchers in issues facing the new industrial economies and training the future workforce.
The scheme supports collaborative research activity between the Australian higher education sector and industry designed to focus on strategic outcomes not independently realisable.
Story: Petra van Nieuwenhoven