Welcome to the final Engineering newsletter for 2019 – and what a year it’s been!Professor Mark Hoffman - Dean of UNSW Engineering

Firstly, UNSW has jumped 15 places in the Times Higher Education’s (THE) most recent university rankings, which is an amazing achievement. It was the fastest rise of any institution in the world by a long way – and a great vindication of our strategy of focusing on high quality research which impacts society, and letting the rankings look after themselves.

What makes it really special is that this now places UNSW as leader in engineering technology among all the learning institutions in Australia across all rankings – an achievement which has never previously made by any institution. We also scored well in the QS rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities rankings, the Leiden rankings and the US News rankings where we just went from 24 to 23. All of this means that internationally we also comfortably in the top 25 to 35 in the world.

A large part of this success over the last two or three years - as always - has been driven by our world class research but we have also benefited from the University’s strong emphasis on innovation.

Other wins along the way have included Scientia Professor Rose Amal being named Scientist of the Year, our Sunswift solar car being first across the line in the 3000km Darwin to Adelaide race, our Hyperloop team competing in California attracting the attention of Elon Musk, as well as the brand new maker-spaces we’ve installed around the University.

Our new emphasis on innovation and design means students in Engineering here at UNSW receive a much better education – we’ve had more than 4000 students inducted into our maker spaces in the last 12 months – an incredible number. And to top it off, we’ve launched Design Next – our new cross-faculty design initiative where students and academics from Art & Design, Built Environment, Business and Engineering come together to both inspire and learn from one another – and more recently, the James N Kirby Makerspace which, with more than 350 square metres of workshop space, is now the campus’s largest makerspace.

But of course, engineering is not just about rankings, records and prizes (although it’s nice to be reminded that we’re on the right track). One of our core goals is to have a positive impact on society, and we’re doing that through infrastructure, especially water infrastructure. It’s not just about building dams, but coming up with the means to manage this very precious resource in not only our own backyard, but across the globe.

In this issue there are some good examples. Our Water Research Lab is doing some very important work in restoring estuaries as well as analysing the effects of climate change on all the biodiversity that live in estuaries, which you can read about in this issue. There are also stories about the joy of using ocean pools, how satellites were used to track the Queensland floods at the start of this year, the engineering of large-scale wetlands restoration and a humanitarian engineering student’s study of water management in Nepal as well as the important role women play in that.

Also in this issue we look at sustainable industry through the fantastic work done by the Industrial Ecology Virtual Laboratory, and we look at how Internet of Things devices are quickly changing the world and the dangers of that being too quick, among other stories.

Finally, this December issue of UNSW Engineers will be the last one that I oversee as Dean of Engineering at UNSW. Next year, after 20 wonderful years at UNSW, I will be moving to the University of Newcastle to take up the role of Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic. In my five years as Dean, I have thoroughly enjoyed contributing to the Faculty to become the preeminent Engineering institution in Australia and may I say this would never have been possible without the remarkable support of our talented and dedicated academic and professional staff.

I look forward to watching UNSW Engineering’s continued success unfold in 2020 and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday and new year.


Professor Mark Hofffman

Dean of UNSW Engineering