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Student video competition awards creative entries

05 Oct 2015 - 11:20 in Achievement


The School of Engineering and Computer Science recently challenged its students to create short videos showcasing what they like most about studying Engineering through a competition named ‘What Flicks your Switch?’

Students submitted videos covering a wide range of topics, from engineering projects to what it is like to study at Victoria University.

First place winners Henry Williams, Robby Lopez and Michael Pearson showcased the development of the robot they entered into the annual Australasian National Instruments Autonomous Robotics Competition (NIARC).

Postgraduate student Henry Williams said entering the video competition was a chance to share his enthusiasm for making robots.

“Building stuff is fun, especially robots, and at Victoria we have had the opportunity to make some pretty awesome stuff. We are especially proud of what we have achieved at NIARC each year.”

Second place winner Liam Dennis, who is studying software engineering, was inspired to enter the competition to further his love of film-making. He wanted to show the benefits of students from engineering and computer science working alongside, and incorporating, other disciplines.

“I wanted to show that the greatest joy can often be found at the intersection of fields, where we combine different skills to improve the way we live now and in the future.”

The winning team took home $1000 of electronic equipment while the second place winner received $500 of electronic equipment.

Check out the winning video and the runner-up and keep an eye out for upcoming competitions and events.

Superlens promises new insights

28 Sep 2015 - 11:09 in Research


Observing the real-time interaction of virus particles is one of the many benefits expected from Victoria University of Wellington research into the design of a new far-field superlens, or optical omniscope.

Dr Ciaran Moore from the School of Engineering and Computer Science will be leading the project as the recipient of a $300,000 Marsden Fast-Start grant.

Current superlens microscopes cannot simultaneously resolve both very small and large features, measured in terms of smaller or greater than 1/200th of the width of human hair. Moreover, they can only observe these features in one dimension, resulting in images consisting of parallel lines.

The optical omniscope aims to address both these issues, meaning differently-sized features can be observed together and in two dimensions, allowing for more detailed observations of nanostructures and nanoparticles interacting with their environment.

"The optical lenses we have now can only give us a blurry image of a nanostructure. It's like looking at an object through frosted glass. You can see that something is there, but not the finer detail," says Dr Moore.

"Other techniques with higher resolution are available, but these can damage the nanostructures."

While still in the early stages of development, Dr Moore says the optical omniscope has a number of potential benefits across a range of scientific applications.

"Presently, medical samples have to be extensively treated—usually cut into thin slices then bleached or doped with fluorescent markers—before they can be examined. But the optical omniscope removes the need for pre-treating, which will save time and result in faster diagnoses.

"Pre-treating can also kill medical samples—by eliminating the need to pre-treat, the sample remains live. That means you could take high-resolution images of a living sample and watch organisms develop or change over time, or see what happens to them when they are in contact with toxic material."

Dr Moore says the optical omniscope could also help speed up the manufacture of computer processors. "The wide field of view contains information about both the very small features as well as the larger ones, so you would be able to check a larger section of each microchip more quickly. By being able to manufacture them more quickly, the cost should then come down too."

Dr Moore hopes that the prototype optical omniscope will improve access to high-end microscopy equipment, thereby leading to new discoveries in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

"If we can make this technology better and more accessible, then more is being seen, which could have a significant impact on the rate of scientific discoveries."

Dr Moore has been working with Victoria University's School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, where nanoscience research is undertaken.

Marsden Fast-Start grants are administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand and come from a special pool of funds set aside for emerging researchers (up to seven years after the conferment of a PhD).

For more information contact Ciaran Moore on 04-463 5233 x8931 or

Avalon Intermediate technology pilot programme a huge success

22 Sep 2015 - 09:22 in Achievement


It's a few minutes before nine on a Friday morning at Avalon Intermediate School in Lower Hutt. In the school hall, representatives from Victoria University's School of Engineering and Computer Science are adding the finishing touches to three interactive learning stations.

The programme is part of the University's 'Introduction to Technology' pilot at the school. The 10-week activity programme gives students and teachers a taste of technology education two mornings a week and it is hoped it will lead to a sustainable programme that can be used in future years.

Right on nine, the doors burst open and year seven and eight students pour into the hall. They bring with them an excited buzz and enthusiastic chatter. John Barrow, Victoria’s Outreach Coordinator, says, “It's great to see how into it the students are”.

Avalon Intermediate is a decile 2 school where, with a large proportion of Māori and Pasifika students on the roll, the importance of technology education cannot be overstated. Teacher Janine Simpson explains that many of the children do not often venture outside the Hutt Valley.

“The technology in these sessions is the most cutting edge they have ever seen,” she says.

Students have already learned about building powerful paper darts, encryption, including coding and decoding messages, building small, autonomous robots called Bristlebots and making their own interactive apps. They have also had an introduction to Scratch, a programming language for children.

Today's theme is virtual reality and the students are in for a treat.

Station one has been set up to allow the students to try the virtual reality headset known as the 'Oculus Rift'. As students take turns riding a virtual rollercoaster, the sounds of whooping, cheering and laughter echo around the hall.

12-year old Naomi Masson says, “I like how it felt so real, like I was on an actual rollercoaster”.

She was also inspired by learning to create cellphone apps. “I want to try it at home.”

At station two students encounter a new invention called Google Cardboard. It's a simple virtual reality which works by attaching a Smartphone to a cardboard viewfinder. Very soon students are running all over the hall experiencing 'mixed reality', a merging of real and virtual worlds, for the first time.

Station three is just as appealing. Students control an avatar on a screen who copies their moves as they dance, wriggle and star jump. The computer programme is called 'MikuMikuDance' and operates with a simple Xbox 360 sensor. Once again, raucous enthusiasm reigns.

The aim is to engage students at a young age and encourage them to consider tertiary education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is clear many of them are already feeling inspired. Even after the bell goes to signal break, students are crowded around the stations, asking questions, pointing, excited to learn more.

Trace Hohipa, also 12, enjoyed the Scratch programming session the best so far. “I liked it because it felt like I was in my own world”.

Teacher Rose Campbell agrees that the programme has been a huge success.

“It's been amazing for the kids to host the experts from Victoria University and have a taste of different types of technology because these kids are the ones entering a technological world.”

Zombie apocalypse how?

18 Sep 2015 - 11:15 in Research


Ever wondered just how a Zombie attack could play out in your town—or what a Zombie apocalypse might actually look like? By the end of this year, it’s quite probable that student Jacob Duligall will be able to answer those questions, and more. He’s currently developing software that will simulate the spread of Zombie disease through a virtual city, turning everyday (virtual) folk into the flesh-eating un-dead.

“As any good Zombie fan will tell you, Zombie-ism is spread by disease,” says Jacob, a fourth-year student who is studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours, majoring in Software Engineering. “By building a system that models a Zombie apocalypse, I’ll also be able to create a simplified simulation of how real diseases—such as colds or flu, or even Ebola—are spread.”

Able to choose the direction the project will take, Jacob is focusing on enabling the system to deal with a range of diseases, and allowing users to specify how the Zombies behave—rather than the alternative, making a more accurate model of the virtual city. He will, however, devote some time to adding geographic data by laying real maps over the top of the simulation to enhance user experience. “I’ll be able to pick a person’s home town, wherever it is in the world, and overlay the relevant map to show Zombies invading his or her town or home!”

Using Java to implement the system, Jacob says he is really enjoying the visual simulation aspect of the project as it means working at the front-end of software development. “If I make a change to the code, I can almost instantly see a change to what’s depicted on screen. Working at the back-end of development, on servers and gateways, is usually a less visually responsive exercise.”

At the end of the project, Jacob will look for volunteers to test his simulation program, and he’ll write a report evaluating his findings.

Jacob’s supervisor, Roman Klapaukh, says he wanted Jacob to tackle a real-world problem—the spread of disease—and build a system from scratch, using all the skills he’s learnt during the past three years of study. “When he finishes his project, Jacob will have a fantastic block of work to add to his portfolio that shows future employers just what his capabilities are,” says Roman.

Jacob, who is originally from Havelock North, chose Victoria because of its strong focus on, and good reputation for, Engineering and Computer Science. “One of my favourite subjects in Year 12 was computing. We had to build our own educational game, which I really enjoyed, although I didn’t actually learn to write code until I started at Victoria.”

So what are his career plans when he graduates? “I’m hoping to turn my internship at Snapper into a full-time job,” he says. Jacob is already working part-time at Snapper—a New Zealand contactless payment system—after being introduced to the company through his course work at Victoria.

“When we studied agile development as part of our course work, Snapper’s chief technology officer, Norman Cumerford, was one of our mentors,” Jacob explains. “He ended up offering me and three others the opportunity to join Snapper as interns. I’ve been working on mobile app development there during the holidays (and part time during term time) and I'm really enjoying it. It would be the ultimate for me if I could go straight from university into a job I love!”

Curiosity - the key to new ideas

10 Sep 2015 - 11:49 in Achievement


Since Lohit Petikam was young, he's been curious about how things work. As his understanding grew, his curiosity shifted to how he could make things work. Teamed with his expanding interest in maths and a realisation of the power of computers, Lohit's curiosity transformed into a new hobby—programming.

"I found myself making things, like small games and music visualisations. Then I developed an obsession for making electronic music. The concepts in music technology that appealed most were quite heavy in maths and physics—so I got into electronics and signal processing, hoping to gain a better understanding of what my music software was doing behind my back."

Music and sound have continued to intertwine with Lohit's more analytical side as he has pursued his studies in Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering—with some music papers on the side. A Summer Research Scholarship recording kiwis is a good example of this.

"My scholarship was about taking stereo audio recordings of kiwi calls, then using analysis techniques to estimate the direction the call came from. The recordings can be used as a low cost and easy way of understanding kiwi movement habits in native bush. Three main algorithms were tested to see how well the recordings could tell the direction, and how they coped with both noise and echo in the environment."

After doing the research, Lohit took part in the Summer Gold Poster Competition, designing a poster that explained his research to the general public.

"I was keen to do this from the start, because I felt that people could learn more about engineering if they weren't intimidated by abstract concepts and maths equations. I have some experience tutoring—both first-year and secondary school students—so I applied what I'd learnt there and described my research in an intuitive way, using design and graphics to make it visually appealing."

Another highlight for Lohit has been making a speech synthesizer controlled by a glove interface—enabling users to make human voice sounds with their hands.

For Lohit, it's the practical side of the Engineering programme that makes it so worthwhile.

"The programme forces you to get your hands dirty—through practical labs and assignments. It leaves you with the experience and skills to build what you want.

Students need to do their own research before accomplishing a goal. Though time-consuming, the projects have been rewarding because you end up with a finished product that you can call your own."

Summer Scholars Scheme 2015/2016

01 Sep 2015 - 10:21 in Administrative

Over the 2015/2016 summer the Faculty will provide several scholarships to students, providing a unique opportunity for students to gain experience in research.

Students will be selected on the basis of academic merit, expertise in the research area and recommendations from staff associated with the project.

For general information, terms and conditions, and to check your eligibility, see Summer Research Scholarships.

For a list of all Engineering and Computer Science projects see


Please see this page after 1 September 2015 when all scholarships will be listed, alongside instructions on how to apply. Applications close 16 September 2015.


Margot Neas
Administrator - Science Faculty Office
Phone: 04 463 5233 extn 8293

Victoria student lights up international stage

24 Aug 2015 - 16:46 in Achievement

A Victoria University of Wellington PhD student is creating waves around the world with a win in the 2015 Sonic Arts Award.

mhz ensemble.jpeg

Mo Zareei won first place in the Sound Art category of the international competition for his piece Rasping Music, based on a video entry of the work exhibited in the 2014 Wellington Lux festival.

The Sonic Arts Award is dedicated to the art of sound. It has four categories—Sound Art, Sonic Research, Soundscapes and Digital Art—which are judged by a panel of internationally-renowned artists.

Mo, who is pursuing his PhD in music, has won €1,000 and the possibility of travelling to Rome to showcase his work.

“It’s very exciting. It’s a big award for sound art, which is a relatively new field. It’s especially nice to be recognised by the judges as they’re quite well-known artists,” says Mo.

Mo’s piece was inspired by musician Steve Reich whose work Clapping Music has performers clap a simple rhythmic pattern which shifts out of sync to create complex rhythms. Instead of clapping, Mo uses his own invention called Rasper, a noise-generating instrument involving mechatronics and micro-controller programming.

Rasping Music was originally composed as an installation piece, but it was also realised as a live performance at last year’s composers competition at the Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music (NZSM), which resulted in a shared third prize. I have written a paper on the piece which I’m presenting at a conference later this year,” he says.

Mo’s achievement extends on the success of the NZSM in Sonic Arts, with Dr Ted Apel having been awarded the 2013 Foundation for Emerging Technologies and Arts Prize in Sound Art.

As part of his PhD, Mo is developing an ensemble of mechatronic sound sculptures, among which Rasper is the first instrument. He works in both Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and the NZSM to carry out his research, supervised by Ajay Kapur, Professor Dale Carnegie and Dr Dugal McKinnon.

“I have three supervisors from three different fields helping me. It’s great to have the flexibility to work with them all,” says Mo.

Mo is currently working on a new piece for this year’s Lux festival alongside Jim Murphy, a recent PhD graduate and teaching fellow at Victoria.

A video of Rasping Music can be found here.

For more information or to contact Mo Zareei go to .

Software Defined Networking Scholarships

17 Aug 2015 - 19:56 in Research

The Software Defined Networking Research Centre aims to foster collaboration with industry, academia and individuals as well as promote independent research and development activities promoting Software Defined Networking (SDN). SDN is a new networking technology which greatly improves network programmability and is changing how we design, build and operate networks.

Scholarship opportunities.

We are pleased to be able to offer multiple scholarships for students wanting to begin a full-time, research-focused Master’s degree. Students will carry out research into the application of SDN to improve the reliability, efficiency and security of networks.

The opportunity to take a new approach to networking based upon the application of software engineering techniques means that we are particularly interested in students with backgrounds in one or more of computer networking, electronics, software engineering, programming languages or formal methods.

Topics include performance measurement, traffic classification for quality of service or security, intrusion detection, application of software debugging and visualization techniques to network programmability as well as the application of formal methods to improve the reliability of networks.

More details about potential research topics are listed on our research group’s web page:

Conditions and Requirements.

Each scholarship consists of domestic tuition fees plus a 1-year stipend of NZ$20,000 to successful applicants. International students, other than those from Australia will be liable to pay the difference between the full international student fee and the domestic fee.

Applicants must be eligible to enrol in a Master’s degree by thesis at Victoria University. In general, this means you have a Computer Science or Engineering (Electronics/Electrical) related honours degree. Please read about this at

Next Steps.

You should contact either Dr Ian Welch ( or Dr Bryan Ng (

Before continuing with your final application we will provide all candidates with a set of tasks to evaluate their technical competency, programming and writing. Applicants typically have four (4) weeks to complete them. Upon satisfactory completion, we will arrange for a Skype Interview with you. Part of the interview will be centred around the tasks you have completed and the submitted report. Successfully passing these steps will result in an invitation to make a formal application via the Victoria University of Wellington’s Scholarships office.

Teaching excellence award for Victoria’s Dean of Engineering

13 Aug 2015 - 11:20 in Achievement

Dale.jpg Professor Dale Carnegie accepts his prestigious teaching award from Hon Steven Joyce at Parliament. Photo credit: Ako Aotearoa.

Victoria University of Wellington’s Dean of Engineering has received one of the highest teaching honours in his profession—a 2015 Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence award.

Professor Dale Carnegie, who judges commended for his motivational teaching style, caring attitude and holistic approach to learning, was presented with the award at a function at Parliament this week.

Over a teaching career that has spanned 25 years, Professor Carnegie has taught engineering-related courses at all levels, from first-year undergraduate to postgraduate and doctoral students.

He says he takes pride in providing the best learning environment possible for his students.

“Every teaching opportunity is an occasion to lead by example, to clearly demonstrate that I enjoy being with my students, that I am passionate about the material I am presenting and that I deeply care about their individual learning.”

That approach clearly resonates with Professor Carnegie’s students who supported his award nomination with endorsements of his “engaging and full on” style, his “infectious enthusiasm” and his passion, with one student describing him as “the cool uncle you don’t want to disappoint”.

“I don’t stand behind a lectern,” Professor Carnegie says. “I wander round all the time—it’s all about being interactive and requiring full engagement from all students. It is just as important to me to inspire a failing student as it is to help a good student become the best they can be, hopefully to eventually outperform me.”

Professor Carnegie joined Victoria University in 2005, coming to the capital from a role at the University of Waikato.

He was appointed Deputy Head of School when the School of Engineering and Computer Science was established in 2009. While holding that role he led a national research programme to better understand student recruitment and retention issues in engineering.

“Students enrol in engineering with a certain set of expectations and our courses must meet those expectations. Engineers want to build, to create, to make a difference. Engineering staff and our colleagues in Mathematics took on this challenge and created a suite of new courses. Student satisfaction levels, and pass rates, soared,” Professor Carnegie says.

In 2012, Professor Carnegie became head of Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science, taking over as Dean of Engineering at the beginning of 2015.

Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford says the recognition for Professor Carnegie is well-deserved.

“Dale is not only an outstanding scholar but also an inspirational teacher who excites and inspires his students.

“Under his leadership, Engineering at Victoria, which is centred on the digital world, is going from strength to strength, with our students going on to work in industries at the cutting edge of this rapidly developing area.”

Professor Carnegie says the award is hugely important to him.

“I’m honoured at the recognition for myself, but also very proud of the endorsement of what we are doing in engineering.”

Check out Professor Carnegie's inspiring application video here:

Opportunities explode for game development and gaming

05 Aug 2015 - 10:33 in Research


10 years ago the stereotypical 'gamer' was a young male sitting in a basement hooked up to a computer for days on end. Nowadays, a gamer can be defined as loosely as 'anyone who plays games'. With the proliferation of games like Candy Crush Saga and Farmville, alongside 'serious’ games such as League of Legends and Skyrim, that definition now includes almost everyone.

As new technology, better graphics, and more powerful computers are developed there's never been a more exciting time to be a gamer.

Kieran Carnegie, Computer Science PhD student and leading member of Victoria University's Engineering Club, is particularly interested in how the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality device, can be used for gaming, and other scenarios.

“When you use the Oculus Rift you honestly believe that you have been transported into a virtual world,” he says. “Research shows it's effective in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and phobias through desensitisation therapy; you can also teach someone to drive, or how to be a tour guide using virtual maps.”

Kieran believes you can build a serious career around gaming, and New Zealand has a flourishing games industry.

“Companies like PikPok in Wellington, Gameloft in Auckland or Epic Games in Christchurch create opportunities for gamers to work in the industry. These companies are constantly looking for new talent. There's a very attractive company culture for gamers,” says Kieran.

When it comes to gaming at Victoria, it’s not all work and no play either.

Kieran says many Engineering and Computer Science students were gamers before they came to university, and now they have an outlet to continue their hobby. The Victoria Engineering Club hosts LAN parties where students connect online and play against each other.

“We facilitate tournaments for League of Legends, Dota 2 and Harvester and arrange team creation nights. Occasionally we get sponsorship from one of the big gaming companies who supply 'swag'. There have been New Zealand-wide events which the VUW team has competed in too, such as last year's Winter Championships hosted by Riot Games and this year's Oceanic Collegiate Championships.”

For those that are really good it can also offer an unexpected career path.

“The United States government already offers athletes' visas for eSport players and there are international tournaments with serious prize pools of millions of dollars. There are even opportunities to become a pro-player and earn a salary by both playing in tournaments and sharing gaming tips with other enthusiasts online.”

To keep up with gaming tournaments and opportunities for ECS students, check out: