Site: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Microelectronics and Materials Technology Centre
GPO Box 2476V
Melbourne, Victoria 3002
Date Visited: October 4 & 5, 1993
Report Author: H. Guckel
Dinesh K. Sood Professor
Dr. Ronald B. Zmood Principal Lecturer, Dept. of Electrical Engineering
Dr. M.J. Murray Chief, Material Sci. & Technology Div., CSIRO
The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) is involved in significant activity in micromechanics, specializing in magnetics, which is not surprising since Dr. Ronald B. Zmood has contributed significantly to magnetic bearing issues in larger machines. Experimental and theoretical considerations of magnetic actuators are in progress. A major concern at RMIT is magnetic bearings and their control systems. The experimental work involves small wound coils and electroplated planar coils via photoresist pattern definition.
The actuator work is supported by a strong effort in material sciences that contributes to fabrication techniques and material science topics for magnetic materials. At RMIT this work is organized via the Microelectronics and Materials Technology Centre, which facilitates interdisciplinary activities and allows, for instance, for the strong cooperation between Professor Dinesh Sood and Dr. Zmood. These two senior members are supported by several graduate and undergraduate students in micromechanics.
Professor Sood arranged a meeting with Dr. M.J. Murray, Chief of the Material Science and Technology Division, CSIRO. This very large national laboratory division has an Australian government budget of $A 10.5 million annually that it augments with external grants of up to $A 15.6 million. The division responds to industrial Australian needs and has recently spun off a company, Ceramic Fuel Cells, Ltd., which produces solid oxide fuel cells. The division has a large, highly-skilled research staff with state-of-the-art research equipment and research topics. A joint effort between RMIT and CSIRO in micromechanics appeared to be in the consideration phase.
The relationships between the Australian micromechanics effort and the Japanese effort are based on Japanese funding at RMIT. Discussions at the Micromachine Center at Tokyo indicated that the only non-Japanese university that received funding through MITI/NEDO is RMIT. The funding level in Australia is significant enough to make it the main financial support in micromechanics at RMIT. Senior staff at RMIT are apparently pleased with the financial support. They explained that they had resolved the patent issue by protecting prior intellectual properties to the satisfaction of both groups. Patent issues based on current research have also been resolved and did not produce the hurdle that some American universities perceived them to be when approached by MITI. It was felt that the ownership and benefit formulas provided in the final agreement were equitable to all parties. Perhaps the only mildly negative comments in Australia involved frequent reporting requirements with executive summaries in Japanese and very strict fiscal accounting.
Professors Sood and Zmood and Dr. M.J. Murray made this visit not only a learning experience but also a very pleasurable one.