Science and Technology

Boeing partnership to give UQ students and researchers altitude

Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Mr Dennis Muilenburg announced the partnership at the McDonnell Academy Symposium in Brisbane on the 22 September 2016.

It involves about 30 Boeing staff working at UQ’s campus, and collaborating with UQ researchers and students on topics including: cabin disease transmission and bioterrorism countermeasures; unmanned aircraft and autonomous systems; and environmental monitoring technologies (including for the Great Barrier Reef).

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said it marked a global innovation leader’s vote of confidence in UQ.

“This agreement is a strong endorsement from Boeing of UQ staff, students and graduates, following 13 years of collaborations which have enabled the company to test UQ’s capabilities in areas including neuroscience, maths and advanced engineering,” he said.

“The agreement is also an important signal for strengthening university-industry relations in Australia.”

Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific President Maureen Dougherty said the partnership built on UQ and Boeing’s long-running relationship, which began in 2003.

“This agreement marks not just a new chapter in our long relationship with UQ, but it also goes to the heart of the National Innovation and Science Agenda which calls for stronger collaboration between industry and academia,” she said.

Boeing’s history with UQ includes a range of support for students, plus more than $10.5 million invested in diverse research projects, such as unmanned aircraft systems (at UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute) and sustainable fuel (at UQ’s Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology).

In September 2015 the partners announced the Boeing UQ Research Alliance PhD Scholarship Scheme, which supports 11 students in fields including human factors, maths, physics, and advanced engineering.

Boeing also offers undergraduate scholarships, aerospace engineering scholarships and student placements, and the company is part of an outreach program for Indigenous and low socio-economic high school students who are keen on engineering.

The Palaszczuk Government announced $1.22 million for a Boeing-UQ collaboration on incremental sheet forming, a manufacturing technique that is cheaper and more efficient than traditional sheet forming and that can be used across biomedical and engineering industries.

Professor Høj said Boeing’s commitment to workplace equality and diversity aligned with UQ’s Women in Engineering program, which has seen growth in the proportion of engineering students who are women.

In 2015, 22.1 per cent of UQ undergraduate engineering students were women – well above the national average of 14.4 per cent.

“UQ alumni are already creating change with Boeing, and we look forward to seeing what can be achieved now we’re working even more closely together,” Professor Høj said.

BR&T-Australia will be housed in refurbished space in the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology precinct.

The facilities are expected to open in the first quarter of 2017.

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