20 December 2007

The University of Queensland (UQ) will be at the forefront of a new $80 million centre aimed at giving Australian industry a leading edge in winning major national and international defence contracts.

The Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC) was announced today by the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, and the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Research and Science, Senator Kim Carr.

The DMTC is a partnership between industry, universities, government research agencies and Federal and State Governments.

Mr Snowdon said the DMTC would receive $30 million in Federal Government funding over the next seven years, with the remaining funding coming from collaborative partners.

“Significant outcomes to be delivered include improved armour protection for military personnel carriers and new high-tech materials for use in major defence acquisitions such as the Joint Strike Fighter,” he said.

The new centre will be run from nodes in Victoria and Queensland, with the Queensland node based at the UQ.

Other university participants include the University of Wollongong in NSW and Swinburne University of Technology, the University of Melbourne and RMIT University in Melbourne, along with the Defence Science Technology Organisation and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

There are six industry core participants – BAE Systems Australia Ltd, GKN Aerospace Engineering Services Pty Ltd, BlueScope Steel Limited, Surface Technology Coatings, Thales Australia Holdings Pty Ltd and CRC-ACS Limited – and 16 supporting participants.

The interim Chief Executive Officer of the DMTC is Professor David StJohn of UQ’s CAST Cooperative Research Centre (CAST CRC), which conducts industry-driven research in metals technology.

Also involved will be UQ’s HyShot Group leader Professor Michael Smart and CAST’s UQ-based Aerospace and industry technology transfer programs leader Dr Matthew Dargusch.

Professor StJohn said the DMTC’s focus was on assisting local manufacturers develop capability to supply components and equipment to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and to play an expanded role in protecting its peacekeeping forces.

The DMTC would also provide Australian manufacturers with cutting-edge research and development to enhance competitiveness in winning major overseas defence contracts.

Other priorities include educating engineers and scientists in skills attractive to the defence industry and transferring technology to non-defence applications such as civilian aerospace, power generation and biomedical manufacturing.

“The program brings together materials science and engineering expertise from industry, government laboratories and academia to help maintain the ADF’s edge across military platforms in all environments,” Professor StJohn said.

“The materials science capabilities will be applied to developing and validating the performance of advanced materials, and to integrate sensors and other electronic devices into defence structures.”

The Hyshot Group will be involved in determining the hypersonic environments that high-tech materials must survive.

“Surviving at Mach 8 and above is not easy, but we believe Australian industry can develop the materials we need,” said Professor Smart.

Professor David Siddle, UQ's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) said the DMTC would give Australian manufacturers access to research and engineering expertise to enable the country to become a significant player in multi-billion-dollar international defence-related industries.

"Professor StJohn is to be congratulated for his strong advocacy of the Centre and his efforts in bringing together such a large and well-regarded group of university and industry partners with State and Federal Government organisations," Professor Siddle said.

Media: Professor David StJohn (Interim Chief Executive Officer) on 07 3365 3574, 0411 022 197 or d.stjohn@minmet.uq.edu.au or Brad Turner at UQ Communications on 07 3365 2659 or b.turner@uq.edu.au

A high resolution image to accompany the release can be downloaded here