July 16, 2018
by Jillian Brown

Exploring the Unknown: Victoria’s Nova Rover Team Competes at 2018 University Rover Challenge

After competing in the prestigious University Rover Challenge, Thomas Shiels, Operations Team Lead for Victoria’s Nova Rover Team, reflects proudly on the team’s journey and successes.

“Nova Rover Team is the first Australian Team to compete at the annual University Rover Challenge (URC). The URC is a competition where top university students from around the world compete to engineer an original rover for use on the surface of Mars. The URC competition is held at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah and is considered one of the most challenging robot competitions in the world due to the harsh terrain, the difficulty of the tasks, and the logistics of transporting equipment there. As a first-year team, we were delighted that our work and sacrifice placed us 14th out of the 96 teams who applied.

The team was founded in 2017 after a group of six of us got together and decided that there were no outlets for students interested in space technology or Mars rovers. We made a detailed proposal to the Monash University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and were entrusted with funds and a workspace. We expanded our team to fifteen talented and ambitious students and many students reduced their course load or deferred their studies in order to give their all to the team. In order to make up for our relative lack of experience in building rovers, we decided to construct two rovers. Our first rover was shown off during Monash University Open Day 2017 and provided a way to test our suspension, motors, steering and control systems. After learning much from this prototype rover, we constructed our final competition rover which we designed to be easier to transport and more robust.

It was incredibly exciting to arrive at the Mars Desert Research Station and have our rover drive. A Mars rover is a rather complex robotic system, which can make it quite volatile in terms of issues and debugging. Fixing a problem usually isn’t too hard, but finding the problem is a real challenge when the device has so many layers of hardware, electronics and software to peel back. We learned that the key to building robust systems is to prototype, test, assess and redesign. We also learned that it is important to not only design for functionality, but to also design for convenient debugging and testing. It was this philosophy, and the willingness of team members to stay up late fixing problems, that allowed our rover to perform on the competition days.

With the recent founding of an Australian Space Agency, which seeks to forge partnerships with industry, we feel there is no better time to follow your passion for space and robotic technologies. Our position at Monash University has been solidified by our successes in Utah and we wish to include more students in our project going forward. We hope that Nova Rover Team continues at Monash University for many years and can provide the outlet for students with an interest in space and robotics to innovate and build their ideas. During the second half of 2018, we are planning to take our rover to schools and events and allowing students to control our rover using virtual reality. If you wish to get in contact with us about an outreach opportunity, please email novaroverteam@gmail.com.

Our successes would not have been possible without the financial support and faith of Monash University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science and Boeing Australia.”


July 13, 2018
by rcrellin

Waste away – the future of garbage

Waste away - the future of garbage

Free panel discussion

Waste away – the future of garbage

The EPA’s third annual National Science Week panel event topic for this year is Waste away – the future of garbage.

Waste has been a hot topic for Australia and Victoria over the last 18 months. Public debate has surrounded:

  • how we can reduce our waste at home
  • how business can assist in reducing waste, which has led to a plastic bag ban in Victoria and many bars banning plastic straws
  • waste stockpiling in Victoria
  • China’s ban on recycling imports
  • how we can repurpose waste, such as using waste to make other products, like road base, or using waste to produce energy.

This year they have gathered a panel of experts to discuss the future of Victoria’s and Australia’s waste. Is it truly waste or is it a wasted resource? Can science help us improve our waste reduction and management?

The panel discussion will be directed by questions posed by the audience, both in person and through the web-stream.

The panel includes:

  • Ms Ruby Chan, Inventor of ‘Moducware’
  • Mr Mark Glover, Director and CEO of Renewable Carbon
  • Mr Barry Sullivan, Business Development Manager, Renewables Downer Utilities Australia
  • Dr Trevor Thornton, Lecturer, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University.

Register now to join this public debate either in the live audience at the Melbourne Museum or by web-stream!


Thursday 16 August 2018

12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Melbourne Museum
11 Nicholson Street
Carlton Vic 3053
View the map.

attend in person
join event online (web-stream)

July 6, 2018
by rcrellin

Using Google Apps in your classroom

Schools can provide students and staff with access to Google Apps for Education online services at no cost through the Department. Professional learning sessions for Term 3 have been announced to help you get the most out of the software.

‘Getting Started’ Workshops

A full day workshop is available to support school leaders and teachers just starting out, as well as those who have been driving their own learning with G Suite. Participants are introduced to the key apps in the suite, presenting a school focused approach in their use for administration, learning and teaching. The workshop will provide tips and tricks, while discussing a holistic set up for different learning environments and settings.

Sessions dates and locations

  • 8 August – Castlemaine
  • 15 August – Flemington
  • 23 August – Corio
  • 18 September – Flemington