Some big advancements in cybersecurity and space exploration are expected to feed directly into the Australian Defence Force.
The recently established University of NSW (UNSW) Defence Research Institute in Canberra will highlight research in cybersecurity, space and systems engineering.
A UNSW spokesperson told create digital that engineering is a significant component of the institute’s research in areas such as space, systems, cyber, trusted autonomy and hypersonics.
“UNSW excels in these fields and the Defence Research Institute (DRI) will allow us to make this expertise available to communities across academia, government and industry,” the spokesperson said.
UNSW has a long history of supporting the Australian Defence Force (ADF), establishing an agreement to offer degree studies to military officer cadets in 1967.
“The UNSW Defence Research Institute will combine our strengths and lead the way for the next 50 years and beyond,” said UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs at the institute’s launch in February.
The university is in the process of recruiting a director for the DRI.
“We are working through the hiring process with talent acquisition and will be advertising for a director of the UNSW Defence Research Institute towards the end of next month. We are currently advertising for an institute manager,” a spokesperson said.
Shoebox in space
UNSW Canberra’s partnership with defence has already led to some exciting advances. Last year, the university launched its first Buccaneer cubesat nanosatellite into space from a US Air Force base in California.
The shoebox-sized Buccaneer was jointly developed by scientists from UNSW and the Defence Science and Technology group. It will be used to help calibrate the Jindalee over the horizon radar in South Australia, and provide data on the orbits of space junk.
The university’s space director, Professor Russell Boyce, said being able to avoid collisions in space is essential to safeguard space-based technologies such as communications satellites.
“Our cubesats will play an important role in gathering data for this research, among other outcomes such as demonstrating space-based capability ranging from remote sensing to ultra-secure quantum communications,” he said.
As well as space research, the institute will incorporate the Capability Systems Centre (CSC) and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).
The ACSC is involved in the Cyber Security Collaborative Research Centre, which was incorporated in January after receiving $50 million in funding from the federal government.
According to UNSW security expert Professor Sanjay Jha, the threat of cyber attacks can’t be understated – with governments, individuals and businesses facing the prospect of huge losses due to data disruptions, disconnections or deletion.
“In terms of UNSW’s contribution, we will be partnering on projects that specifically harness our expertise in systems security, network security, real-time analytics and distributed systems. I anticipate being involved in critical infrastructure projects and working on the security aspects of IoT, authentication technologies and blockchain technologies,” Jha said.