Innovation an ongoing cycle

Australian university looking at partnering with UAE to find sustainable energy solutions

By Muaz Shabandri - Reporter

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Published: Tue 24 Mar 2015, 11:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:51 PM

Dubai — Two leading global academics from the University of Sydney are hoping to encourage energy companies and utility providers in the UAE to partner in key global research agendas to find sustainable solutions to energy issues.

Professor Z.Y. Dong and Professor Archie Johnston during an interview with Khaleej Times in Dubai on Sunday. — KT photo by Dhes Handumon 

“Engineering and IT are at the heart of innovation in all countries. We hope to get part of that action here in the UAE. Innovation is trying to make things more efficient and effective and it is an ongoing cycle,” said Prof. Archie Johnston, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and IT at The University of Sydney.

The university has more than 52,000 students at its campuses in Australia and is hoping to extend partnerships in collaborative research, student exchange and training to companies in the UAE.

“All communities have to learn from each other because we are faced with common problems throughout the world. Food, water and energy challenges represent themselves in different ways. We do learn from other countries and how they have adapted to challenges with issues like looking for fresh water, having renewable energy systems and how we can change.

Pointing out similarities in the UAE and Australia’s energy infrastructure, the academic highlighted potential areas of collaboration between the two countries.

“Australia is advanced in some areas of research including smart grid technology. We would like to tie the interest of the UAE with careers of students enrolled in our university. If we could put them in contact with researchers finding solutions to key global problems, we could develop human resources to come back to this country,” added Prof. Archie.

A delegation from the university has been meeting companies in the UAE to discuss how the university’s academic interests could align with government and private sector companies.

“We are exploring relationships with universities over here as well as industry partners. The university could collaborate on fundamental, applied or collaborative research where technological breakthroughs can be applied to gain economic gain and improve the quality of life,” he added.

Professor Z.Y. Dong, Head of School of Electrical and Information Engineering at the university has already been making strides in finding technological breakthroughs. The academic has developed an advanced self-cleaning solar panel which is scratch resistant, allowing the panels to be installed in harsh weather without being affected by sandstorms.

Speaking with Khaleej Times, Prof. Dong said: “We are exploring opportunities to bring the technology here and it may be a possibility.

In the future, we would like to have an alliance where universities, industry partners and students work together.”

He added: “There are a lot of areas for potential joint work in areas like data analytics, smart grid technologies, solar power generation, energy storage and so on. Following our meetings with UAE-based entities, we will narrow down our discussions to focus on specific areas of research which can be beneficial to both parties. We would like to see increased student exchange and a long term collaboration.”

muaz@khaleejtimes.com



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