Student engineering projects could innovate CQ industries

Published:18 June 2020

Matthew Huff's Rockhampton flood map from his 2020 Engineering Showcase project.

CQUniversity’s 2020 Engineering Showcase put the spotlight on some innovative projects that could potentially impact operations of key industries operating in Central Queensland in the future.

The University recently celebrating the talents and accomplishments of its graduating class of Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Engineering Technology students with its annual CQU Engineering Showcase.

Showcase organisers awarded four presentation winners based on their excellence in discipline areas.

Winners included Sam Barlow (Mechanical), Damon Christensen (Electrical), Ruan Nortje (Mechatronics) and Matthew Huff (Civil).

Sam’s project was a structural analysis and redesign of the AX7500 cane harvester chassis for Bundaberg-based cane equipment manufacturer Canetec Pty Ltd.

The cane harvester which had been in service globally and around the Bundaberg region for the past five years had recently exhibited fatigue cracking and stress concentration.

Formative assessment of the chassis showed significant need for redesign in critical areas.

Sam’s project aimed at alleviated all chassis failures, while minimizing increase in weight and fabrication costs – a potential huge win for the cane industry.

Damon’s project with Anglo American (Capcoal) hopes to one day lead to automation of a labor-intensive system at the German Creek Coal Handling and Preparation Plant.

His project aimed to design and test a system that would automate the control of the portal reclaimers to dress stockpiles, decreasing labor and operational costs for the company.  

Ruan’s project looked at improving the performance and integration capability of a CQUniversity-born automated mango harvester.

His robotic system design and integration project will aid in the development and optimisation of the existing system, informing the second-generation system design.

Matthew’s project hopes to inform the Rockhampton Regional Council and infrastructure firm AECOM about quantification of riverine and flash flood risk of the Fitzroy River catchment.

Risk quantification is the process that bridges between flood modelling and flood mitigation. Without quantifying the scope of flood risk, it is not possible to effectively mitigate the impacts.

The financial and societal damage of the 2011 floods showed the need to better understand how the region’s complex floodplain interacts with people and infrastructure.

This project expands upon previous flood hazard investigations into a practical representation of flood risk applying to people.

Conference coordinator and Head of Course for Undergraduate Engineering Dr Aruna Jayasuriya said CQUniversity’s final-year engineering students recently presented their individual oral and poster presentations via Zoom technology to an audience of participating organisations and stakeholders, engineering staff, fellow students and family members.

He said the students had produced some fantastic projects which have been based on real-world challenges facing organisations within CQUniversity’s footprint.

Some of the other projects of note included: sewerage modelling and planning for Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy; pavement design in the Moreton Bay region; a review of speed limits in the Gladstone CBD; analysis of locomotive wheel wear and maintenance; evaluation of an automated water treatment plant clean; improving a person’s grip using passive soft exoskeletons; and the viability of using an Xbox gaming accessory as a low-cost 3D scanner.

Project stakeholders included: Bundaberg Regional Council, Gladstone Ports Corporation, AECOM, Rockhampton Regional Council, Gladstone Regional Council, Tweed Shire Council, Calibre Group, Aurizon, Moreton Bay Regional Council; Fenner Dunlop, ACE, Stanwell Power Station, Canetec Pty Ltd, Ergon Energy and Energex, Anglo American (Capcoal), Downer Group, Third Ground Coffee House and CQUniversity.

The Showcase was sponsored by Gold sponsor Aurizon, Bronze sponsor Ergon Energy and Energex, and CQUniversity.