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Technical support

The impact of technology

Initially, the Faculty of Engineering’s single, analogue computer came under the watchful eye of the Laboratory Manager. This one machine was the extent of the Faculty’s computing ability. Gradually access to computers, which today are a critical part of cutting edge research, became more widespread. Several former staff and students recall using punch cards to run computer programs that tested calculations. Chris Powell describes the process:

There were punch-cards that you spent the whole time programming some sequence and you had to walk buildings away and put it in there, after waiting in a queue and finding that you'd made an error in your punch-card and come back … All the readings were taken manually. So sleeping in a lab overnight was done, and had to be done because certain things had to be monitored.

Research was made more efficient by the rapid development in computing technology. As a former technical staff member recalls, ‘electronics and data acquisition systems and sensors and so forth just enabled you to do more, and many times with many variations, and being repeatable and so forth’.

As technology advanced – both computer technology and general technology alike –Engineering and its departments were able to further develop their research facilities. Technical staff worked with academics and students, particularly research students, to develop and carry out experiments that applied technology to engineering problems and developments. Research grant funding – traditionally an area in which the Faculty of Engineering performed well – coupled with external funds brought in by consulting activities enhanced the Faculty’s research and testing facilities.

Today, the Faculty of Engineering at Monash University has state of the art research facilities, including the largest wind tunnel in the southern hemisphere, a world class wave tank, and the Synchrotron – Australia’s largest scientific and engineering facility right next door to Monash. The Hargrave-Andrew Library and Resource Centre have been recently refurbished and the fully-equipped laboratories put Engineering at Monash on an international level.

References

  1. Monash University Archives, Report of the Council, 1963
  2. Monash University Archives, MON 8, William Churchill Staff File
  3. Monash University Archives, Tam Sridhar Interview
  4. Monash University Archives, Chris Powell Interview
  5. Monash University Archives, Brendon Parker Interview
  6. Monash University Archives, David Boger Interview
  7. Monash University Archives, Julie Fraser Interview
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