Professor Travis Waller has recently been appointed the Deputy Dean, Research for the Faculty of Engineering.
In the new role, Professor Waller will provide strategic advice to the Faculty of Engineering on its research activity, with a primary concern of keeping industry up to date about the work being done at UNSW Sydney.
“My new role is to provide strategic guidance in terms of our research scale and quality, research staffing, and partnerships, as well as being an advocate,” Professor Waller says.
“In some ways, I see myself as ‘chief cheerleader’ for the Faculty of Engineering with regard to research.”
Professor Waller takes over the role from Professor David Whaite, who held the role for the past four years.
Professor Waller was previously Deputy Head of School (Research) for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI).
“I was rCITI’s Founding Director, and held that role for the last seven years. I've now transitioned to Executive Director and Associate Professor Vinayak Dixit has taken on the role as Director.”
So is the promotion to Deputy Dean a departure from his previous role of Deputy Head of Civil Engineering?
“The Deputy Head of School role was relatively similar,” Waller says. “But the real change is one of scale.”
“Civil Engineering is one of the largest schools here at UNSW. I remember seeing that we were over 3000 students. I mean, we have some faculties at this university that are not of that size.
“It was a real challenge articulating the vision of the various school research areas to the world. But now at the faculty level, you increase that by a factor of 10.”
Professor Waller will be working closely with the Dean Mark Hoffman as well as the Research Support Team, heads of school and directors.
Dean of Engineering Professor Mark Hoffman says he is confident that the new Deputy Dean will make his mark in the Faculty.
“Professor Waller has made an outstanding contribution to research as Deputy Head of School of Civil Engineering and Director of rCITI. I’m confident that the talent he has shown will continue to be of great benefit to the Faculty.
“Travis’s energy in creating new initiatives such as rCITI, along with his drive to make a positive impact on the world, make him the perfect choice to help keep UNSW Engineering at the forefront of technology and innovation in Australia.”
Professor Waller says he is very much of the mindset: “I’m here to help.
“In a faculty as large as ours, things can’t come too much from top down. It’s people who actually have to do the research, people that have the relationships with industry. I see myself as an enabler.”
Professor Waller wants the Faculty of Engineering’s actions and achievements to speak for themselves. He is of the firm belief that meaningful research must have meaningful, real-world utility.
“What I can say with certainty is it’s only great engineering research if it makes an impact on the world. If it's not making an impact on the world, it's not great engineering research,” he says.
“This is what we know and understand, what we live and breathe. What we want is for people to come to us to form a relationship and work together to make that impact.”