In 1905 engineers from the University of Tasmania engineering department helped design Tasmania’s first hydroelectric power schemes. Today, we’re improving the technologies for isolated power systems for King Island and Flinders Island. And we’ve grown to support satellite tracking, global positioning, remote sensing, and shipping.

Recognising Tasmania’s reliance on shipping, we’ve created unique Australian capabilities in maritime engineering, testing and training.

Incat Tasmania are pioneers in large fast wave-piercing catamarans and the University has supported their growth through staff exchanges and collaborative research. The latest collaboration is an Australian Research Council Linkage grant which will enable remote sensing of high-speed catamarans leading to the development of new semi-autonomous technologies to improve ship safety and passenger comfort.

“The high-speed ferry industry is a major export earner for Australia with annual revenue of $100 million,” says project leader Dr Jason Lavroff.

“The work will impact on design rules used worldwide, reducing weight and increasing payload and transport efficiency for this class of vessel,” he says.

The project builds on past work at the University on ride control systems.

“Operation of high-speed catamarans in large waves can produce significant vessel motions that can lead to passenger discomfort, as well as extreme loadings during full bow immersion and wave slam impact,” says the Engineering School’s Dr Javad Mehr.

Dr AlaviMehr modelled the performance of a 112-metre Incat catamaran using the towing tank at the University’s Australian Maritime College in Launceston. The 100-metre-long tank is the largest in Australasia and measures resistance of objects in moving water, such as ship hulls, submersibles, offshore oil rigs, and submarines.

Engineering research infrastructure at the University includes diesel engine simulation, a cavitation laboratory and a model test basin which simulates operations in a variety of conditions including shallow water. The test basin was used to help the Port of Newcastle improve safety and operations by determining how passing ships would affect berthed ships at the Port. University researchers also helped the Gold Coast Waterways Authority to establish appropriate speed limits for commercial and recreational boating.

The Australian Maritime College is the home to the Maritime Simulation Centre which trains hundreds of ship and port offices and provides insights for planners of port operations and development. The Full Mission Bridge simulator—a full-scale mock-up of a ship and its surroundings—can simulate over 130 vessel models transiting a port in real time, manoeuvred by humans and across a range of environmental conditions. The Centre gives both students and experts the opportunity to experience what ship masters and deck officers do on a working vessel without leaving campus.

The University also has strong defence research and education links including the Defence Science and Technology Group, and the new Naval Shipbuilding College in Adelaide. 

Dr Jason Lavroff, Senior Lecturer in Engineering.

Dr Javad Mehr is a Lecturer in Maritime Engineering at the National Centre for Maritime Engineering and Hydrodynamics.

Interested in partnering with the University of Tasmania? Find out more here.