South Australia's postmaster general and supervising engineer Charles Todd and construction team members, with women and children, in 1870 at Darwin at the planting of the first pole for the overland telegraph project that linked with Adelaide in 1872.                                                                                   Image courtesy State Library of South Australia.

DARWIN-TO-ADELAIDE TELEGRAPH PROJECT IN 1872 a triumph setting tradition for South Australia in technological bravery, invention 

TECHNOLOGY IS A SOUTH AUSTRALIAN TRADITION. Its 21st Century ambitions in areas such as driverless cars and photonics or making Adelaide a smart city are the more public face of the high technological background hum from state's defence industry work started in the 1950s with the weapons research establishment at Salisbury.

The technological bent in South Australia goes back to the dire need for agriculture inventions such as John Ridley’s wheat reaper in the 1840s, followed by the Smith brothers’ stump jump plough.

But South Australia’s major technological engineering triumph over other colonies in the 19th Century was the overland telegraph project, linking Adelaide and Darwin (and via Java to Europe).

By 1859, Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania and Adelaide had telegraph connections. But the Australian colonies needed to join up with the undersea cable link between England and Batavia (Jakarta).

The colonies competed fiercely over the route for that link. The Victorian government’s fatal Burke and Wills expedition had that link in mind. The South Australian government, seeing the benefits of being the centre of the telegraph network, offered £2000 for an expedition to find a route to Australia’s north coast.

Sponsored by wealthy pastoralist James Chambers, John McDouall Stuart, in 1862, successfully, in his sixth attempt, crossed the continent from the Flinders Ranges. He marked out a telegraph line route.

South Australian governor Richard MacDonnell strongly supported the project, which had its land secured when an order from London in 1863 transferred the Northern Territory to South Australia.

When the South Australia Parliament in 1865 authorised a telegraph line between Adelaide and Port Augusta, it outraged Queensland advocates of the Darwin–Burketown telegraph route. The final contract was secured in 1870 when South Australia agreed to construct 3200km of line to Darwin if the British-Australian Telegraph Co. would link Java to Darwin.

The Adelaide-Darwin project overcame huge setbacks to be completed in 1872. South Australia was blessed to have, as head of the project, its superintendent of telegraphs Charles Todd. The input of Todd and his son-in-law, future Nobel physics prize winner William Bragg, continued South Australia's technological vision.



and applying the results of research into growing better crops

John Ridley's reaper and Smiths' plough among early boosts for South Australian agriculture

The early challenges of farming in South Australian conditions generated an impressive batch of mechanical inventions. The first significant innovation was a response to the emergency of not having enough labour to harvest the colony’s wheat in the early 1840s. In 1843 at Hindmarsh, flour miller (and preacher) John Ridley developed a mechanised reaping machine – The Stripper – that, by 1857, harvesting 50% of its wheat. Although Ridley won the prize offered by Agricultural and Horticultural Society, others credit Mount Barker farmer John Wrathall Bull as the inventor of what has been claimed as a world first. In 1876, Richard Bowyer Smith and his brother Clarence on the Yorke Peninsula invented a stump-jump plough that could cope with the problem of mallee stumps on paddocks. James Winchester Stott from Alma in the mid north is credited with a similar invention in 1877, plus a cultivator, slasher, scarifier and double-furrow plough. The first man to make winnowers in Adelaide was John Stokes Bagshaw who set up a workshop in 1838. He became famous for his farm tools, especially his hand-operated winnowers. Writer, preacher and inventor David Unaipon, born at Point McLeay Aboriginal mission, is credited with creating the first straight line motion shearing machine. In 1909, he developed and patented the handpiece that became the standard in woolsheds across the country.  Alf Hannaford of Riverton, in 1915, made the first wheat machine that wet pickled seed wheat with copper sulphate to protect against a fungus disease called bunt. He later changed the machine to enable dry pickling of wheat against smut.

Good early wheat crops bring a boom in flour milling technology to early South Australia

Steam-powered flour mills were an early machine technology in Adelaide in response to the success of the 20 acres of wheat planted on the Adelaide plains in 1838. Flour milling became the first secondary industry of the South Australian colony as "the granary of Australia". Two wind-powered mills were built within the Adelaide city square mile in 1842. The City Mill in Wright Street was an octagonal smock mill, 30 feet high and built of local timber. The circular tower of the West Terrace Mill built for Phillips and Horne was designed by George Kingston. On the city outskirts, John Ridley's mill at Hindmarsh was the first to produce flour in 1840. The South Australian Company had a mill at Hackney and Dr Benjamin Kent’s mill on his farm in Kent Town later moved to Grenfell Street and was renamed the Albion. By 1856, 60 mills could process the entire SA wheat crop in less than three months. Flour production was exceeding local demand so exports were being explored. Expansion of mills continued at Strathalbyn (1849), Bridgewater (1852), Stockwell (1854); Birdwood (1854) and Salisbury (1855), with Murray Bridge, Balaklava, and Port Lincoln soon after. In the 1860s to 1900s, at Tonsley farm –  the southwestern Adelaide suburban site of a technology innovation precinct in the 21st Century – Richard Ragless and his family introduced several new implements to assist with their farm and market garden in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Their entrepreneurial spirit is shown by the steam chaff mill they established to supply the local and Victorian market with chaff — the fuel of its day.


Frederick May's ideas and technical skills have crucial effect on mining, agricultural harvesters

Frederick May’s inventions, such as the adjustable harvester comber and ore concentrator, revolutionised Australian agriculture and mining for South Australia’s benefit. May brought inventing talent to South Australia from Cornwall where, as a 12-year-old in 1852, he built a steam engine. He later applied this self-taught steam-engine technology to the copper mining towns of Burra and Moonta, preventing  the mines from flooding and saving the copper industry that rescued the South Australian colony drowning in debt. In Broken Hill, he was hailed for inventing an ore concentrator be used in BHP’s thriving ore mine. This mine had to flow-on effects to South Australia through local investors but also the Port Pirie lead smelters. May’s worldwide effect was in agriculture. In 1906, he produced his Model 115 May Harvester from his Gawler factory north of Adelaide.This was the first harvester with an adjustable comb. It went global and is still used today. The Model 115 had a patented lubrication system, a clutch and a brake, all at the cutting edge of harvesting in 1906. The Model 115 was offered to farmers in a choice of colours: yellow, red and blue. Frederick May’s Model 115 harvester is exhibited at Adelaide University’s Roseworthy Agricultural College Museum near Gawler.


Roseworthy (from 1883) and Waite campuses turn research into agricultural technology

Turning research into technology is ongoing leading hallmark of South Australian agriculture. Roseworthy, Australia’s first agricultural college from 1883, was set up by the government as a model farm for research applied as technology. After declining soil fertility and drought, research included developing fertilisers in dryland cropping and breeding wheat varieties. The college was a forerunner to a government department of agriculture that became closely involved in applied research through the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Now part of Adelaide University, Roseworthy campus is a major player in several cooperative research centres (including pork, poultry, beer, sheep and bio remediation). Australian Grain Technologies, one of the largest cereal breeding company in Australia and the world, has made Roseworthy the centre of its national operations. Adelaide University’s Waite campus has the largest concentration of plant science research in the southern hemisphere. The Waite is Australia’s leading site for grain, soil and wine research. Its community has 12 research organisations, centres and nodes, with about 1,500 scientists, technicians, teachers, support staff and students in agriculture, food, wine, natural resource sciences and agricultural economics. More than 50% of barley grown in Australia originates from the Waite campus. Its program generates and evaluates about 25,000 potential new varieties every year. But only about one will be commercially viable after 10 years of developing.


David Adamson brings technical ability and intellectual curiosity to early South Australia

David Beveridge Adamson brought technical ability and scientific curiosity to early Adelaide: an important part of a small group influencing the city’s social and intellectual life in its pre-university days. Adamson arrived with his family from Scotland in 1839. He was a carpenter and wheelwright, along with father James and brother Adam. They set up a business making agricultural implements in Adelaide in 1840. This became Adamson Brothers (James Beveridge and John Hazel were partners) in the 1850s, with branches in Kapunda, Auburn and Laura. Their wheat harvesters and strippers (based on John Ridley’s invention) won a high reputation for quality. The mainly self-educated David Adamson had an insatiable interest in science and mechanics. He built furniture and musical instruments, claiming (in 1876) to have made the colony’s first violin in 1841. He designed and built a valuable collection of scientific instruments, mechanical appliances and toys used in his public lectures and demonstrations. He ardently studied astronomy, assembling a Gregorian and a Newtonian telescope, an orrery (made about 1870, held by the Royal Astronomical Society of South Australia) and a Foucault's gyroscope. He was fellow of the Philosophical Society (later Royal Society) of South Australia from 1867. A founder of Chalmers Church, Adamson supported societies such as the YMCA, sharing his parents’ and siblings’ strong commitment to church and community. Adamson also promoted bodies such as the chamber of manufactures and the destitute board. 

David Unaipon invents straight-line shearing machine without credit or compensation in 1909

The first straight-line motion shearing machine, invented in 1909, is featured on the $50 Australian note tribute to David Unaipon. He developed and patented (provisional patent 15 624) the handpiece that became the standard in woolsheds across the country. It converted curvilineal motion into the straight-line movement that's the basis of modern shears. It was introduced without Unaipon receiving financial return and, apart from a 1910 newspaper report naming him as inventor, he received no credit. Unaipon has been called the Australian Leonard da Vinci for his mechanical ideas. These included pre-World War I drawings for a helicopter design, based on the boomerang, and his research into the polarisation of light. Unaipon took out provisional patents for 19 inventions between 1909 and 1944 but couldn't afford to get any fully patented. Other inventions included a centrifugal motor, a multi-radial wheel and a mechanical propulsion device. Unaipon was a recognised authority on ballistics. Unaipon was born at Raukkan (Point McLeay) Mission in 1872. Educated at the mission school and in Adelaide, Unaipon was interested in science but also became known as a writer, musician, preacher and spokesman for Aboriginal people. Unaipon was the first Aboriginal writer to publish in English, with many articles on Aboriginal rights and Legendary Tales of Australian Aborigines eventually published under his name. In his nineties, Unaipon returned to Raukkan where he continued working on inventions, convinced he was close to discovering the secret of a perpetual motion machine.


that has so many flow-on effects for Adelaide science/technology

Charles Todd links Australia to world via 1872 Adelaide-Darwin telegraph line project

Charles Todd became a technological and engineering hero of the 1870s when he oversaw the epic Adelaide-Darwin telegraph project. Todd came to Adelaide in 1855 with a background at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. His maths was used to help determine the longitude between Greenwich and Cambridge University observatories by telegraphic means. Todd became fascinated with telecommunications while working with Electric Telegraph Co., and with C. V. Walker, electrical engineer to the South Eastern Railway, a pioneer of submarine cables. Britain’s astronomer royal George Airy nominated Todd as South Australia’s superintendent of telegraphs – a role extending to government astronomer, postmaster general and meteorologist. In 1856, a year after he arrived in Adelaide, Todd’s enthusiasm for telegraphs saw the first government link between Adelaide and Port Adelaide, followed by a line to Port Augusta (1865). Todd worked with Victorian telegraphs superintendent Samuel McGowan to link Adelaide and Melbourne by telegraph. In 1870, South Australian premier Henry Bull Strangways decided, independent of other colonies, to build a telegraph line from Port Augusta to Darwin, if the British-Australian Telegraph Co. would lay a submarine cable from Darwin to Java, enabling a link to England. Todd headed the project. Todd’s organisation major obstacles to finish the Adelaide-Darwin 3,178km line within two years by 1872. Todd was later honoured as fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Meteorological Society and Society of Electrical Engineers.

Adelaide Observatory allows Charles Todd to watch planets/ gather the first weather data

Adelaide Observatory, built between 1860 and 1873 for Charles Todd, as South Australia’s superintendent of telegraphs, postmaster general and meteorologist, reflected his most beloved task as government astronomer. Adelaide Observatory complex, including the Todd family home and weather recording equipment, was next to West Terrace between Currie and Waymouth streets in the city parklands. It had a tower with tripartite blind windows and transit room, a domed equatorial room, refracting and transit telescopes, a time service and a seismograph. This enabled Todd to do geodetic surveys and watch comets and planetary satellites. He closely observed Venus in 1874 and in 1882 when he set up a temporary station at Wentworth, NSW, to get better results. Todd’s notes on Jupiter’s satellites were published in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society .Todd’s love of astronomy (he also designed Western Australia’s observatory) drove his enthusiasm for an Australia-wide telegraph network to set up observation stations that gave the continent its first weather information. Adelaide Observatory became hub for meteorological stations reporting daily, using the telegraph system. Todd’s meteorological system spread to all colonies and New Zealand. When Todd retired, there were 510 rainfall stations in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Adelaide Observatory was joined by the Commonwealth Weather Bureau building in 1941. But the complex was demolished by 1952 to make way for the Adelaide Boys High School. Its weather bureau role was transferred to Kent Town.

Adelaide General Post Office opens in 1872 and receives Australia's first telegraph from overseas

Adelaide General Post Office opened in 1872 and became, on October 22, the place that received the first Morse-code telegraph message to Australia from overseas. This message arrived in Australia via an undersea cable from Indonesia, came ashore at Port Darwin and then down the 3178km line to Adelaide that had been completed in less than two years in 1872. The Adelaide-Darwin line project had been directed by Charles Todd who, as South Australian postmaster general, had major input into the new General Port Office, with its grand postal hall, on the corner of King William and Franklin streets, the colony’s most expensive structure so far at £55,000. Todd specified the shape of the GPO’s Victoria tower with bells, copied from Westminster Abbey, chiming on the quarter hour. The telegraph line from Darwin gave Adelaide the monopoly on  receiving news from overseas for Australia for the next 30 years. News gathering in Adelaide had become highly competitive by the mid 19th Century, with two daily morning titles competing for readers. Before the telegraph line, reporters had been sent to Port Adelaide to travel out with the pilots to board ships newly arrived from London and obtain the latest overseas news. In 1858, the telegraph line completed between Melbourne and Adelaide – via Willunga, Goolwa, Robe and Mount Gambier – enabled Adelaide reporters to send news direct to Melbourne, as well as receive interstate news. An evening newspaper, the Telegraph, was founded to mark this development.

Charles Todd's hopes for Adelaide electricity delayed but city adopts telephones from 1883

With telecommunications enthusiast Charles Todd as postmaster general, South Australia was an early adopter of telephone technology with its first exchange operating at the General Post Office building by 1883. This was seven years after Alexander Graham Bell had invented to telephone. Adelaide’s first telephone exchange opened with 27 subscribers. This grew to a few hundred within three years. After Australian colonies federated in 1901, the state post and telegraph departments became part of the Commonwealth Postmaster General’s Department (PMG) and the phone service expanded rapidly. Adelaide’s bigger purpose-built Central Telephone Exchange opened in Franklin Street behind the General Post Office in 1908. Charles Todd, who arrived in South Australia in 1855, was an early proponent for Adelaide to have electric street lighting. The first public electricity in England in 1882 prompted a private member’s bill in the colonial parliament to create the South Australian Electric Company. In 1891-92, Adelaide City Council considered street “electric lighting” one of its most important questions. But electricity for Adelaide was blocked for more than a decade by opponents, mainly shareholders in the South Australian Gas Company. It wasn’t until 1895 that South Australian Electric Light and Motive Power Company began supplying power to Port Adelaide from its Nile Street generator in 1899. In 1900, Adelaide got its electricity from a temporary generator in Tam O’Shanter Place and, in 1901, a coal-fired powerhouse in Grenfell Street opened, supplying North Adelaide by 1902.

William Bragg bonds with Charles Todd in science/technology; marries Todd's daughter

On his first day in South Australia in 1886, William Bragg met Charles Todd, government astronomer, postmaster general and superintendent of telegraphs – and father-in-law to be, at the Todd family’s home within the Adelaide Observatory. buildings complex in the city’s west parklands. This meeting between Todd, who’d guided the epic Adelaide-Darwin telegraph line project to its finish in 1872, and Bragg, the new 23-year-old Adelaide University Elder professor of mathematics and experimental physics – and a future Nobel physics winner – was momentous in itself. It would turn into a close alliance on several levels. Firstly, Bragg married Gwendoline, one of Todd’s four daughters, in 1889. Their elder son, (William) Lawrence, would share the Nobel Prize in physics with his father in 1915. Lawrence had the advantage of a boyhood stimulated by his regular visits to his grandfather’s observatory complex. Charles Todd and William Bragg also developed a deep intellectual alliance that would fuse science and technology. This fusion would benefit their own work but have lasting effects on Adelaide. For example, William Bragg first met Charles Todd’s sons Charles Edward and Hedley Lawrence when they were starting medical and business careers. In later years, Charles would consult Bragg on the medical use of the new X rays and Hedley would seek Bragg's advice on the electrification of the city.

Charles Todd/William Bragg involved in the science/technology at jubilee exhibition 1887

Charles Todd and William Bragg were closely involved with the Adelaide International Jubilee Exhibition of 1887, the longest-running spectacle in South Australia’s history, showcasing the latest in technology. The exhibition, celebrating South Australia’s 50th anniversary and the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign, opened in June 1887 and closed in January 1888. The Exhibition Building was added to the public buildings on North Terrace, Adelaide, to house the event. Charles Todd, South Australia’s postmaster general and superintendent of telegraphs, led Jury XV at the exhibition that judged precision instruments and apparatus for physical research, chronometric apparatus, and optical and thermotic devices. Future Nobel laureate  and Adelaide University’s mathematics and physics professor, Bragg also was on that jury and the exhibition’s education and science sectional committee. At the opening of the exhibition by governor William Robinson, Todd, as superintendent of telegraphs and head of the Adelaide-Darwin telegraph line project, was handed a telegram message to be transmitted immediately to Queen Victoria describing the “brilliant assembly of Her Majesty’s loving subjects". Bragg received a bronze medal for services to the exhibition. His close link with the Exhibition Building continued on the board of the School of Mines and Industries that conducted classes there. Over six months, the jubilee exhibition attracted 619,414 visitors. Britain, German and Austria/Hungary were among international exhibits.

X ray on young Bragg's broken elbow part of Adelaide embrace of new medical technology

X rays, central to William and Lawrence Braggs’ joint claim to the Nobel Prize for physics in 1915, played their part in a domestic drama at the family’s North Adelaide home in 1896. The reaction to the incident was part of Adelaide’s willingness to adopt X rays and other new technologies for medical use. Six-year-old Lawrence Bragg was riding his tricycle at home in 1896 when his younger brother Bob jumped on from behind and both fell on Lawrence’s left elbow. Lawrence was taken to his father William’s Adelaide University laboratory where the elbow was Xrayed with apparatus still in its infancy. X rays had only been discovered in the previous year by Wilhelm Röntgen in Germany. Lawrence’s left elbow was shown to be shattered .Family friend and doctor Alfred Lendon thought the arm should be allowed to set stiff but Dr Charlie Todd, Lawrence’s uncle and a son of postmaster general Charles Todd, decided that, every few days, Lawrence was put under ether and his arm flexed to form a new joint. The treatment was largely successful. Also in June, 1896, as part of his demonstrations, William Bragg had his hand photographed in X ray by his Adelaide University apparatus maker Arthur Rogers. The (later Royal) Adelaide Hospital was at the forefront of adopting new medical technology. In 1899, four years after X rays were discovered, the hospital opened an X-ray theatre. The hospital installed its first telephone system in 1901, performed its first blood transfusion in 1925, and conducted its first bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor in 1995.

Charles Todd part of Adelaide effort behind William Bragg's X rays demonstration in 1896

Adelaide postmaster general Charles Todd helped his son-in law, Adelaide University mathematics and physics professor and future Nobel Prize winner William Bragg with his demonstration of X rays in Adelaide in 1896. The demonstration was part of Bragg's academic interest shifting to physics and particularly electromagnetism. Early in 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen in Germany discovered X rays. Bragg responded, with his skilful assistant Arthur Rogers, by trying to produce the new radiation by making a suitable glass tube for X-ray experiments. But trials with the tube weren’t successful. Bragg was able to pursue an alternative by borrowing a suitable high-voltage induction coil from the department of Charles Todd. In 1896, Samuel Barbour, a chemist employed by pharmaceutical firm F.H. Faulding & Co., returned to Adelaide from Europe with one of the new glass discharge (Crookes) tube tubes. But Barbour lacked a suitable voltage source. The two groups pooled their resources for the demonstration when the tube was attached to Todd’s induction coil and a battery. The induction coil produced the electric spark for Bragg and Barbour to “generate short bursts of X rays”. Demonstrations were given by Bragg and Barbour to show the use of “X-rays to reveal structures that were otherwise invisible”. William Bragg had become an accomplished and popular extension lecturer and, when he gave a public demonstration of the new X rays in the university library, an overflow crowd was turned away. Bragg repeated the lecture in a larger hall days later.

William Bragg/Charles Todd exchange earliest radio signals between city and Henley in 1899

William Bragg and Charles Todd were involved in sending one of Australia’s first radio signals in Adelaide in 1899. These were Morse code messages, including one over eight kilometres from the Charles Todd’s Adelaide Observatory wireless hut on West Terrace, Adelaide, to the Bragg family’s hut at Henley Beach. Bragg had been diverted into the possibilities of radio or “wireless telegraphy” by his father-in-law Charles Todd, who, as South Australia’s postmaster general and superintendent of telegraph, was irritated by the rupture of an underwater communications cable linking the Althorpe Island lighthouse, off Yorke Peninsula, with the mainland at Cape Spencer. Todd asked Bragg to look into wireless telegraphy. While on study leave in England in 1898, Bragg met with Guglielmo Marconi and discussed his experiments with Hertzian radio waves. Returning to Adelaide in 1899 and, working with Todd, Bragg started his own research on wireless telegraphy. Adelaide University instrument maker Arthur Rogers made the Marconi apparatus that enabled the Morse messages that Todd sent from the Adelaide Observatory and were returned by Bragg at Henley Beach. Todd planned to try radio transmissions over water but he didn’t have time for the project. Nor could he get from England the apparatus he needed, and the cost of a lighthouse link was too high because skilled operators were needed. In 1899, Bragg gave lectures  on “wireless telegraphy” to overflow audiences. His work in this area was abandoned in 1900 when Bragg widened his experience of experimental physics. 

William Bragg bridges divide between School of Mines and university over advanced courses

Future Nobel laureate and Adelaide University professor of mathematics and experimental physics, William Bragg showed his tact and breadth of vision by being, uniquely, a member of the disputing councils of both Adelaide University and the School of Mines and Industries. The school of mines grew out of the many mechanics’ institutes providing early elementary technical education in South Australia. By the 1880s, a drought and agricultural decline and the need to develop mining and industry heightened the demand for technology study centre. Without public secondary education, a big gap grew between education at primary schools and the university. The Tom Playford II government set up the School of Mines and Industries in 1888. The famous Charles Todd – William Bragg's father in law – was an early nominee for the school’s council president but withdrew in favour of John Langdon Bonython. In 1890, Adelaide University nominated William Bragg for a vacancy on the School of Mines council. Bragg remained a valued member until he left Australia in 1909. From the start, School of Mines’ students attended physics, electrical engineering and other classes at the university but were often hampered by a lack of basic knowledge. Preparatory courses were introduced. Bragg believed in a broad general education for the community but also in the intellectual primacy of the university. He agreed to requests from the School of Mines for the university to provide engineering courses, with invaluable input from Robert Chapman, although university staff and resources were exceptionally low.

John Madsen works with William Bragg in major boost to electrical technology in Adelaide

As with his father-in-law Charles Todd, Adelaide University's mathematics and physics professor and future Nobel Prize winner William Bragg promoted electrical technology in Adelaide. Todd, as South Australia's postmaster general and director of the Adelaide-Darwin telegraph line project, had urged that Adelaide use electricity long before it was seriously discussed in the 1880s. In 1900, the new School of Mines and Industries asked Adelaide University to help reorganise its electrical engineering course. William Bragg had a shortage of staff, funds and equipment but he suggested weekly evening classes that began in 1891. Students petitioned for an advanced course in 1894. A brilliant undergraduate from Sydney University, John Madsen arrived at Adelaide University in 1901 as assistant lecturer in mathematics and demonstrator in physics. During the 1902/3 summer break, Madsen visited universities and electrical works in England and the USA. In 1903, he became Adelaide University’s lecturer in electrical engineering. The university and School of Mines in 1902 set up four-year courses leading to a joint school fellowship and university diploma in applied science. The electrical engineering course and laboratories design were left to Madsen, who took on all physics practical work, advised Adelaide Electric Lighting Co. and, by 1906, was helping Bragg with research. Bragg took a deep interest in these developments. With Todd's support, Bragg was elected an associate (1893) and then full member of The Institution of Electrical Engineers (UK) until 1912.

Robert Chapman: giant of South Australia's 20th Century engineering teaching and technology

Robert Chapman, recruited to Adelaide University in 1888 by William Bragg, became a giant of South Australian engineering technology. After starting as assistant lecturer in mathematics and physics, Chapman taught mathematics at South Australian School of Mines and Industries from 1900. After lecturing in engineering, he became the university's first professor of engineering in 1907. From 1910-19, he replaced Bragg as professor of mathematics and mechanics. He resumed as professor of engineering from 1920. Chapman believed strongly engineering should be trained beyond apprenticeships through joint courses by the university and the School of Mines and Industries. These started in 1903 and became university degree courses, including civil engineering. He was a founding member and president of the South Australian Institute of Engineers. Chapman taught many who later distinguished themselves, including Essington Lewis, H.T.M. Angwin (chief engineer of South Australian Harbours Board), and his son Robert Hall Chapman (chief engineer of South Australian Railways). He did original research into metals, timber and concrete, and also studied tidal behaviour and astronomy. He worked with the South Australian government, as consultant on bridges, roads, jetties, railways and breakwaters. He wrote many papers on engineering as well as two books: The Elements of Astronomy for Surveyors and Reinforced Concrete. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1909 and supported the Astronomical Society of South Australia as president for a record 32 years. 


as part of South Australian entrepreneurial technology embrace 

Herschel Babbage uses technological heritage in active burst in South Australia from 1851

Benjamin) Herschel Babbage arrived South Australia in 1851 with a prestigious background in technology. He was eldest son of Charles Babbage, renowned Cambridge mathematician who originated the concept of a programmable computer. An uncle was William Wolryche-Whitmore, an MP who introduced the South Australia Foundation Act to the British Parliament. At 18, Hershel Babbage became a pupil of the engineer and architect William Chadwell Mylne, working on water projects. In the 1840s, he also worked with Isambad Kingdom Brunel on railway building in Italy and England. In 1850, Babbage was invited by Patrick Bronte (clergyman father of the Bronte sisters) to report on the unsanitary conditions in the West Yorkshire town of Haworth. Recommended by geologist Henry De la Beche, Babbage was assigned to make a geology and mineral survey of South Australia. In Adelaide, Babbage worked on several government projects, including the gold assay office in Victoria Square. In 1853, he became chief engineer of the Port Adelaide-to-city railway. Babbage was Mitcham District Council's first chairman from 1855. He was on the Central Road Board and  Adelaide Philosophical Society (later Royal Society) president. Babbage was elected to represent Encounter Bay in the House of Assembly’s 1857 elections but resigned to lead northern expeditions, Although he made discoveries such as Lake Eye being divided into north and south, Babbage’s slow methodical pace led to him being replaced. Babbage withdrew from public life to build his “castle” at St Mary’s.

F.H. Faulding: from 1845 Adelaide pharmacy to multinational firm via innovative technology

Adelaide’s F.H. Faulding – a small Rundle Street pharmacy from 1845 that became a multinational company –  carried its 19th Century  success into the 20th/21st by applying innovative technology to its products. Two of Faulding's major early innovations were a process to distil eucalyptus oil and to develop the test for eucalyptol content of the oil. The test became the industry standard, and the British Pharmacopoeia standard method in 1898.  Other well-known products were Milk Emulsion (a pleasant alternative to cod-liver oil), Solyptol Soap (gold medal winner at the Franco-British Exhibition in London in 1908), Solyptol disinfectant, junket tablets, cordials, essential oils for perfumery and reagents such as Epson salts, most produced in its Thebarton factory. Other products developed by the company included Barrier Cream, formulated in 1941 to counter dermatitis in armament factories, and penicillin produced at a bacteriological laboratory built at Thebarton in 1944. After World War II, Faulding extended its products and wholesaling, becoming a public company in 1947. In the 1980s, Fauldings opened its W.F. Scammell Research Centre in Salisbury and developed drugs such a Doxycycline capsules and enteric-coated aspirin. Eryc – enteric-coated pellets of erythromycin – was a notable success in helping Faulding set up a bridgehead in the USA. A $2.3 billion a year revenue earner employing 4300 people and selling pharmaceuticals and healthcare into 70 countries, Fauldings became a takeover target and was bought out by Mayne Pharma in 2001.

Alfred Muller Simpson becomes Adelaide's great manufacturing innovator from 1864

Alfred Muller Simpson started an era of manufacturing innovation that lasted more than a century from 1864 when he became partner in the Adelaide business started by his father John. John Simpson arrived in Adelaide in 1849, having been apprenticed in 1820 in London as a tin-plate worker, and also studying science and chemistry, but ending up running a hatter business after joining his brother in a tailoring firm. Simpson was forced to migrate after a fire and the railway boom collapse ruined his business. After several unsuccessful ventures in Adelaide and twice visiting the goldfields while Sarah gave piano lessons, in 1853 John Simpson turned to tinsmithing, making pots and pans and supplying cans for the Glen Ewin jam factory. In 1862, he leased premises in Gawler Place, Adelaide. His son Alfred Muller Simpson, apprenticed in 1857 and as partner in 1864, took his father’s firm beyond its goods range from jam tins to snuff scoops. The innovative younger Simpson, one of the first members of the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures, introduced products such as fire-proof safes, bedsteads, japanned ware, colonial ovens and gas stoves. The fire- and thief-resistant Simpson safes became an early speciality of the firm and came to be used in offices and banks throughout South Australia and interstate. In 1878, Alfred Muller Simpson visited the Paris Universal Exhibition, which prompted him to mechanise his plants. He brought an American double-action press back to Adelaide along with ideas for new products and refining existing one. Under him, the firm continued to expand.

David Shearer invents Australia's first car – steam-powered – at Mannum in 1894-97

David Shearer invented Australia’s first motor car. A blacksmith and farm machinery maker with his brother John at Mannum on the River Murray, Shearer began working in 1894 on his “horseless carriage” powered by steam with mallee wood firing the engine. It had the world’s first differential. Shearer got permission for drive his “automobile” in Adelaide city streets in 1900 when he brought it to the Adelaide Chamber of Manufacturers Exhibition. Shearer’s vehicle travelled at 15 miles an hour, faster than England’s first car two years later that reached 10-12 mph. Shearer wasn’t interested in making cars. He just wanted to prove the horseless carriage was workable. He returned to making agricultural machinery. After early experience in blacksmithing and wagon building, David had joined brother in 1877 in making farm implements. The Shearers were invited to Mannum where the farmers needed tough equipment to clear land covered with mallee and pine. The Shearers came up with rugged machines – adding stump jump ploughs to the grubbing machines, fixed ploughs, scarifiers, harrows – that found a ready market in South Australia. In 1888, they invented a virtually unbreakable wrought steel plough share at one quarter the price of the old forged share. These shares swept Australia in popularity and saved farmers millions. By 1895, the Shearers expanded their business but kept improving to produce popular lighter and stronger stripper with a wider cut in 1902. The steam car project was just a background to all this.

Vivian Lewis builds its first motorcycle and car; South Australia leads on registration, licences

Vivian Lewis produced the first petrol-driven motor car made in South Australia in 1900. He also built the first South Australian motorcycle in 1899. Lewis’s business was boosted by the visit to Adelaide in 1898 by Frenchwoman Anthelmina Serpolette who was promoting a petrol-driven motor tricycle for the Gladiator Cycle Company. Vivian Lewis’s workshop was called upon to fix Serpollete’s tricycle when it refused to go on the day before she was engaged to appear at the Ariel bicycle race meeting at the Jubilee Oval. Originally an importer and maker of bicycles, The Lewis Cycle and Motor Works’ said the first car it built was “manufactured entirely at the Lewis works” but the local content in later cars under the “Lewis” brand isn’t known. By 1907, the business was busy importing and manufacturing bicycles and manufacturing Lewis motorcycles. One in eight motorcycles on the road in South Australia in 1915 was a Lewis – and importing and retailing motor cars. With World War I and the loss of its founders Tom O’Grady and Vivian Lewis, the Vivian Lewis company took a different direction towards being a car dealership in the 1920s. Being flat, dry and relatively prosperous, with a limited rail network, South Australia took up the motor car quicker than other states. Australia’s first registration and licensing system was started in South Australia during 1906 and, by 1910, 1350 cars (and more motor cycles) were registered.

Holden's, T.J. Richards, Duncan & Fraser move from horse carriages to nation's car builders

Adelaide’s place in the 20th Century as a powerhouse of Australian car making was not something brought in from overseas. The Australian car-making industry was spurred by the drive of three Adelaide horse coach/saddlery companies: Holden’s Motor Builders Ltd, floated in 1917; Duncan & Fraser, who switched to making and selling cars as early as 1903; and T.J. Richards and Sons, which became a car-body-building company in 1922. Duncan & Fraser, quality horse coach builders who won the contract to build Adelaide's trams in the 1870s, were ambitious in their 20th Century switch to cars. Those ambitions were choked by Ford Motor Co. in the 1920s. T.J. Richards and Sons also were bold in their car-building vision . It was T.J. Richards that beat Holden’s in 1937/8 by selling Australia’s first all-steel sedan car body. Holden and T.J. Richards had benefited from the 1917 federal government embargo on imported car bodies. But the family companies' next generation made the most of the opportunity. They embraced large investment, innovation and expansion. Under Edward (Ted) Holden, Holden's Motor Body Builders (HMBB) Woodville plant, with the latest technology, became the biggest of its type outside the USA. But the Depression forced Holden’s into selling to American partner General Motors in the 1930s. T.J. Richards remained 100% Australian-owned until Chrysler Corporation bought control in 1951.


with spinoff benefits for South Australian universities, industries

South Australia's WRE a defence technology centre from World War II and the Cold War

South Australia became a defence science and technology centre from World War II. Before the war, the only defence experiments being done in the state were at the proof range started at Port Wakefield in 1929 to test weapons and ammunition. In his push for industrialisation, premier Tom Playford convinced Labor prime minister John Curtin of the strategic benefit of having defence industry in South Australia, away from the frontline for attacka. The new federal munitions department opened Salisbury explosives factory and Finsbury munitions factory in then-open environs of Adelaide. Playford encouraged South Australia’s part in the next conflict: the Cold War. The state hosted British atomic bomb tests at Maralinga and sold its Radium Hill uranium to the USA. In 1946, Finsbury became home to munitions supply laboratories and Anglo-Australian joint project at Woomera, with aviation support at RAAF Base Mallala. The Long Range Weapons Establishment (LRWE) was set up in Salisbury in 1947 to support Woomera guided weapons base. Salisbury activity intensified in 1949 with new laboratories: high speed aerodynamics, propulsion, electronics. In 1955, LRWE and all Salisbury laboratories linked as the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE). The RAAF Base Edinburgh near Salisbury superseded Mallala. In 1974, the WRE split into four laboratories: weapons systems, electronics, trials and advanced engineering – as Defence Research Centre Salisbury. The last of the WRE, looking after Woomera test range, was absorbed into the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in 1974.

John Ovenstone (WRE), Ren Potts make Adelaide the national leader in computing in 1950s/60s

Adelaide’s leading role in computing during the 1950s/60s came from a convergence of the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury (since the end of World War II) and Adelaide University. In 1953, the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) needed a better way to process data from missile trials at Woomera rocket range and miissle contractors' demands. The computing system for these needs was designed by John Allen-Ovenstone. He modified an Elliott 403 system to what was called the WREDAC. It integrated automatic handling of telemetry, radio doppler and radar data that set the pattern for the next 25 years. Ovenstone adapted WREDAC to process WRE’s administrative data. This led to his ideas for automated administrative information with a major effect in the defence department and acceptance of computer systems in Canberra’s government departments. In the 1956/57 summer, when WREDAC started, Ovenstone invited Adelaide University professor of applied mathematics, Ren Potts, to learn to program the computer. Potts and his students attended a computing conference in 1957 at the WRE, along with notable English computing pioneers, including Maurice Wilkes from Cambridge. This stimulated interest in computing in Adelaide. In 1959, Potts, some students and others from the university attended the first Fortran short course by IBM in Adelaide.  Adelaide University was looking to upgrade its punched-card data system and Potts got it to set up a computing centre and to starti teaching computing science – with Ovenstone as professor. Potts had a prime role in founding the Computer Society of South Australia, the first of five state societies that combined in 1966 as the Australian Computer Society.

Adelaide University's Ren Potts gives big boost to telecommunications, computing in Australia

Renfrey Potts, Adelaide University’s professor of applied mathematics 1959-90, carried on the dynamic spirit of William Bragg and Charles Todd in showing how science could benefit society as technology but particularly the spirit of Todd in making an impact on Australian telecommunications. An internationally renowned applied mathematician, Potts’ main interest was in using mathematics to improve the way the real world works. Potts had pioneered early transportation science and became interested in operations research generally in the 1960s. He started an Adelaide local society (later national) for operations research involving academics, trainers and industry. Of the areas researched by Potts and his students, the biggest effect was in telecommunications. Potts recruited and backed L. T. M. Berry who wrote a thesis on telecommunications network planning and started a telecommunications research group at Adelaide University. In 1987, this group became the Teletraffic Research Centre supported by Telecom Australia. With ongoing funding from Telecom, OTC and then Telstra, the centre gained an international reputation for research on teletraffic. Potts  encouraged the Australia and New Zealand industrial and applied mathematics society to be formed in 1975. Influenced by advances in computing at the Weapons Research Establishment in Salisbury, Potts was also first president of Australia’s first computer society in South Australia in 1960 and the key figure in setting Adelaide University’s computer centre, by creating interactions between academia and industry. In 2004, Potts was admitted to the Pearcey Hall of Fame to recognise his contribution to early computing in Australia 

Jindalee over-horizon radar, 
watching north of Australia, developed by DSTO at Salisbury

The Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) is a multi-billion dollar over-the-horizon radar network to monitor air and sea movements across 37,000 square kilometres of Australia’s north. It was invented by a division of the Defence ,Science and Technology Organisation at Salisbury in South Australia. The high-frequency system is supported by Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems Australia. JORN’s command and control element, 1 Remote Sensor Unit, is based at the RAAF Base Edinburgh. The JORN project has had five phases, and cost about $1.8 billion. Phase 6, expected to cost $1.2 billion was awarded in 2018 to BAE Systems Australia, based in South Australia, for a 10-year upgrade. The roots of the JORN can be traced back to experiments after World War II in the United States and Australia in the early 1950s. From 1970, a study led to three-phase program to develop an over-the-horizon-radar system. This second phase was carried out by the radar division (later, high frequency radar division) of the Defence, Science and Technology Organisation at Salisbury. Project Jindalee came into being in 1972-74 and was divided into three stages Trials were carried out with the Royal Australian Air Force from the Edinburgh base in 1984, showing how the OTHR operatied. Another two years of trials were carried out before the Jindalee project officially finished in 1985. JORN has a normal operating range of 1,000 km to 3,000 km. It is used in Australian defence and can also monitor maritime operations, wave heights and wind directions. JORN's main ground stations comprise a control centre at RAAF Base Edinburgh and transmission stations in Queensland and Western Australia. 

Edinburgh hub aligns Defence Science and Technology with forces' operations and industry

Edinburgh Defence Precinct, in the northern Adelaide city of Salisbury, has consolidated its niche within the federal defence department’s Defence Science and Technology (DST), created in 1974. Among the rolling Defence Science and Technology changes, Edinburgh is a continuum of the post-war Weapons Research Establishment built up at Salisbury. In 1994, Salisbury was headquarters to a consolidated electronics and surveillance research laboratory. Three years later, this laboratory was replaced by the new Knowledge Systems Building at nearby Edinburgh. This was joined by a torpedo systems centre and maritime experiments laboratory at Edinburgh in 2004. Defence Science and Technology’s home at Edinburgh Defence Precinct groups has become a key national defence research, manufacturing and sustainment hub. Part of the precinct, the RAAF Base Edinburgh is one of two defence department super bases and is home to 5000 military personnel, public servants and contractors. It is also home to the No. 92 Wing and its Lockheed AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, No. 87 Squadron Air Force Intelligence, 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment; and the 1st Brigade Adelaide. It has national importance as control centre for Jindalee Operational Radar Network. Defence manufacturing plants in the precinct are operated by BAE Systems Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, Airbus Group Australia Pacific, Raytheon Australia, CAE Australia and Meggitt Training Systems.The long-time Port Wakefield testing range has been upgraded to the proof and experimental establishment.

Core of defence cyber security/electronic warfare at South Australia's Edinburgh

South Australia is also a growing centre for defence-related cyber security. The federal defence department’s Defence Science and Technology cyber and electronic warfare division and RAAF’s cyber security squadron, Number 462 Squadron, are based in Adelaide at the Edinburgh Defence Precinct. The cyber and electronic warfare division produces and tests concepts, tools and techniques to protect Australia’s army, navy, air force, defence intelligence and broader national security agencies against electronic threats, and provides expert technical advice on major defence department purchases. The division integrates science and technology capabilities across cyber, electronic warfare, signals intelligence and communications. Adelaide’s universities encompass cyber security in their teaching and research programs, including Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute Asia-Pacific in Adelaide, which works to continually improve software-intensive systems. South Australia’s top-level defence will be boosted by the private industry input for the new fleet of submarines, to be built in Adelaide, as well as new frigates and offshore patrol vessels. Raytheon Australia is the combat system integrator for the Collins class submarine replacement combat system and the Australian Aegis Combat System for the Air Warfare Destroyers.  Saab Systems is the combat system integrator for the Canberra class landing helicopter docks and ANZAC frigates, including for the anti-ship missile defence project. Lockheed Martin Australia has set up a submarine combat system laboratory in Adelaide with key partners Saab Australia and Thales Australia and New Zealand.

Adelaide Uni's Institute for Photonics/Advanced Sensing brings quantum mechanics to defence

Adelaide University reseachers in 2019 shared in $6.6 million funding from Australia’s defence department to work of three quantum mechanics projects, including underwater devices to detect submarines and an ultra-accurate portable clock to improve GPS satellite technology. The funding consolidates Adelaide University’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) as one of Australia’s leading centres for quantum sensing and photonic technologies. It reaffirmed the defence department’s interest in developing quantum mechanics study, of the motion and interaction between subatomic particles, in South Australia. One of the IPAS projects will use magnetometers to track submarine activity. Technology used to detect variations caused by ferrous (unoxidised) iron in the total magnetic field will be applied to discover underwater vessels. Magnetometer sensors on the seabed could detect a submarines and essentially set up a trip wire around important Australian assets. The second project is a state-of-the-art optical clock that will harness billions of cold atoms to provide ultra-precise timing to improve defence GPS technology. Adelaide University scientists will work with researchers from Griffith, Curtin, La Trobe and Queensland universities to develop a portable state-of-the-art optical clock that tickles the atoms into releasing light in different colours, with green signalling it is ticking at 500 trillion times per second. The new optical clock will determine the locations of entities through assessing time signals emitted from satellites through ticking. 


as an industry cluster greets Australian space agency in Adelaide

WRE Salisbury, backed by Adelaide Uni, builds satellite in 11 months; Woomera launch 1967

One of the finest technological feats of the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) at Salisbury was to design, build, test and launch Australia’s first space satellite, the WRESAT (WRE Satellite), in November 1967. It was all achieved in 11 months before its launch from Woomera, the South Australian outback centre that was pivotal in the Cold War space race, particularly 1955-80. The WRESAT satellite came out of the WRE’s part during 1966 in a US-led project, using rockets from Woomera, to investigate the physics of high-velocity warhead return entry into Earth’s atmosphere. Ten American Redstone rockets were brought to Woomera but, when only nine were needed, three senior WRE officers decided the spare vehicle could make an ideal satellite launcher. The Americans offered the rocket to Australia and the US team was available to prepare and fire the Redstone rocket by the end of 1967. The federal government showed little interest but the minister of supply gained approval for the satellite. The University of Adelaide contributed part of the cost of the satellite’s experiment package. NASA and ELDO (European Launcher Development Organisation) provided free tracking of the satellite that made Australia the third nation, after the Soviet Union and United States, to launch one from its own territory. The satellite, a 45kg cone, circled the Earth on a nearly polar course, until it entered the atmosphere again, after 642 revolutions in 1968, over the Atlantic Ocean. The battery-operated satellite sent data during its first 73 orbits of the Earth.

Andy Thomas goes into space four times as mechanical engineer for NASA over 22 years

Adelaide's Andy Thomas, Australia’s first space astronaut, made four missions during 22 years with NASA in the United States. Educated at St Andrew’s Primary School, Walkerville; St Peter’s College and Adelaide University (bachelor and doctorate in mechanical engineering), in 1978, he joined Lockheed in Atlanta, rising to principal aerodynamic scientist by 1990. Thomas was selected by NASA in 1992 and appointed to the astronaut corps. While awaiting space flight assignment, Thomas supported shuttle launch and landing operations at Kennedy Space Centre. He provided technical support to the space shuttle main engine project, the solid rocket motor project and the external tank project at the Marshall Space Flight Centre. Thomas was named as payload commander for STS-77 and flew his first flight in space on Endeavour in 1996. Although Paul Scully-Power had entered orbit as an oceanographer in 1985, Thomas was the first Australia-born professional astronaut to enter space. Thomas next trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, to serve as board engineer 2 aboard the Russian Space Station Mir for 130 days. STS-102 (2001) was the eighth shuttle mission to the international space station and Thomas's third flight. During the mission, Thomas spent 6.5 hours installing components to the outside of the space station. From 2001-03, Thomas was deputy chief of the NASA Astronaut Office. On his fourth space flight on STS-114, he logged more than 177 days in space. He worked with NASA Astronaut Office exploration branch until he retired in 2014.

Mini satellite made at Adelaide University, launched in 2017, part of the state's space revival

A miniaturised satellite named SUSat, built by about 50 Adelaide University staff and students, was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in 2017. The size of a loaf of bread, it is one of three “nanosatellites” developed in Australia under the European-funded project, QB50 — an international network of 50 cubesats. They investigated the thermosphere — a layer of atmosphere about 95-500km from the Earth's surface — to increase understanding of climate and weather modelling. It orbited Earth at the rocketing speed of 7.5km/sec, or 27,000km/h.  It will one of  the first three Australian-built spacecraft to make it into the cosmos since the FedSat scientific research satellite took flight in 2002. Data from Adelaide’s SuSat was collected up to three times per day via the University of South Australia’s Institute for Telecommunications’ ground station at Mawson Lakes. The state government gave $300,000 towards developing the Adelaide University satellite as part of its push for Australia to become involved in the $323 billion space industry. That involvement was supported by astronaut Andy Thomas, an Adelaide University mechanical engineering doctorate graduate who was on four missions into space during 22 years with NASA in the United States. Thomas was at 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide in 2017, where an Australian Space Agency was announced. A state government space studies program with $50,000 in scholarships was announced for the University of South Australia and International Space University’s southern hemisphere space studies.


South Australia wins the Australian Space Agency in 2019 based at the Lot Fourteen hub

South Australia will be home to the Australian Space Agency, based at the Lot Fourteen innovation hub (the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site) on North Terrace, Adelaide. It will oversee the nation’s burgeoning space industry with an initial 20 full-time equivalent staff. South Australia won the agency in 2019 over strong competition from other states, with Adelaide astronaut Andy Thomas supporting his home state’s bid. The federal government said Adelaide put the strongest case and was already home to more than 60 organisations and 800 employees in the space sector. South Australian space satellite startup companies include Fleet Space Technologies and Myriota. South Australia also launched Australia’s first satellite from Woomera in 1967. The space agency is based on hopes for local businesses and Australia to access the US$345 billion global space industry. The federal government’s $41 million for the agency aimed to triple Australia’s space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030. Having the space agency in South Australia also dovetails with the state’s rapidly-growing defence sector. A mission control centre and space discovery centre will be set up alongside the Australian Space Agency at Lot Fourteen. The control centre will be a focal point for space missions in Australia, able to guide small satellite missions, and accelerating Australian satellite technologyThe space agency was a key to the $551 million Adelaide City Deal, a joint federal, state and city governments deal focussing on Lot Fourteen.

Adelaide CBD to get space mission control centre and discovery centre at Lot Fourteen

A mission control centre and space discovery centre will be set up alongside the Australian Space Agency at Lot Fourteen (the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site) on North Terrace, Adelaide. The mission control centre will complement the work of the Australian Space Agency at Lot Fourteen. The centre will be a focal point for space missions in Australia, able to guide small satellite missions, enabling real-time control, and for testing and accelerating Australian satellite technology. It will be available to space startups and small-to-medium enterprise space businesses, as well as research and educational centre across Australia. The Space Discovery Centre will provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, engage and inspire young Australians, and activities such as mission simulation and training for university students. The federal government in 2019 announced $6 million funding each for the mission control centre, and space discovery centre, also at Lot Fourteen. These investments aim to help the Australian Space Agency foster growth of a globally competitive space industry, worth about US$345 billion. South Australia has been a major player in the nation’s space industry and is home to global Tier 1 defence companies and a growing ecosystem of space startups, including satellite makers Fleet Space Technologies and Myriota, and Southern Launch that is setting up an orbital launch complex at Whalers Bay on lower Eyre Peninsula.

Flavia Tata Nardini sees Fleet Space Technologies low-cost IoT vision soar from Adelaide in 2019

South Australian space nanosatellite company Fleet Space Technologies is making major inroads in fulfilling the vision of joint founder and CEO, Flavia Tata Nardini, to supply low-power cost-efficient industrial internet of things (IoT) solutions. In 2019, Kennards became one of the first customers linked to Fleet’s constellation of Centauri nanosatellites. Kennards will use the Fleet gateway, The Portal, to keep track if its rental equipment across specialist branches and customer sites in Australia and New Zealand via Fleet satellites. Also at a 2019 conference in Amsterdam, Tata Nardini launched Fleet’s Project Galaxy offer to connect one million devices for US$2 per year. Project Galaxy booked out in 24 hours with almost 40% of reservations from the USA. More than two million were on the waiting list. Interest came from Fortune 500 companies and the world’s most innovative IoT startups, especially in agritech, mining, energy and construction. Fleet Space Technologies launched the first of its nanosatellites in 2018 on board SpaceX, Rocket Lab and ISRO. Fleet Space has its own tracking station an hour outside Adelaide. The company was looking to launch 10 more satellites by 2020 to meet demand, joining the 50 million LoRa-based devices online, as of 2018, across 100 countries. Tata Nardini says being part of the LoRa Alliance’s 500-member ecosystem had fuelled Fleet Space Technologies’ growth: “For years, the market has faced systems that are too expensive, plagued with limited bandwidth or operating in technology silos. Industrial IoT solutions are no longer out of reach.”

Myriota nanosatellites to give internet-of-things link to millions of low-cost transmitters

Adelaide space startup company Myriota is developing its own low-orbit constellation of 50 nanosatellites to deliver internet of things (IoT) data to customers anywhere on Earth. The company, based at Adelaide CBD’s Lot Fourteen innovation hub – home of the Australian Spece Agency –  has its roots in a $12 million University of South Australia project, the Australian Space Research Program, from 2011. Myriota was founded in 2015 with its team of 11 including key inventors from that research. Myriota tried its technology aboard a maritime-tracking nanosatellite from Canadian ExactEarth. This led to seed funding for the company that saw its technology could support hundreds of millions of devices. Myriota is developing small low-cost low-power transmitters that connect directly to satellites in orbit. These devices don’t need an aggregator or base station to collect the data and connect all these devices. This gives Myriota’s technology shows great potential in agriculture with Australian farmers using the tramsitters to monitor the levels of water tanks or even track individual cattle. Myriota’s 50 nano satellites – each shoebox size, weighing less than 10 kilograms – will be key to its claim on the IoT market. The satellite will moves over the north and south poles and around the world in 90 minutes. Myriota has partnered with Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems to develop and launch multiple satellites. In 2018, Myriota secured the first investment outside the USA by Boeing’s Horizon X Ventures.  Added to funds from Singapore-based Singtel Innov8 and Right Click Capital, this raised $15 million.

Australia's first orbital launch site for nano satellites at Whalers Way on Eyre Peninsula

NewSpace company Southern Launch is building Australia’s first commercial orbital launch complex at Whalers way on lower Eyre Peninsula in South Australia to deploy nanosatellites. After an 18-month search, from Western Australia to Victoria, for the perfect spot, Southern Launch saw Whalers Way as providing the right safety for people and the environment and South Australia. It allows launching rockets into a polar or sun synchronous orbit plus access to major infrastructure like ports and airports. The 1190-hectare site sits at the bottom of Eyre Peninsula, about 35 minutes’ drive from Port Lincoln. Rockets launched at the site will fly 500km south over the Great Australian Bight before reaching orbit. Southern Launch will target rockets with payloads between 50kg and 400kg that carry microsatellites into polar or sun synchronous orbits to service internet of things (IoT) applications such as monitoring agricultural land. The space ecosystem has moved from the old-space equatorial orbits. Satellites in a north-south orbit allow for fewer cheap satellites to observe the entire globe. Industries such as agriculture, oil and gas, retail, transport, government and academia around the globe will benefit from Whalers Way, as they are increasingly using small satellites to gain information to make more intelligent decisions. The launch site is expected to attract other high-tech companies to South Australia and build a vibrant rocket and satellite manufacturing industry. Italian-owned space company Sitael which has set up in Adelaide, will be among those using the Whalers Way complex.

Hamilton Secondary College space centre takes students to Mars in STEM experience

Mike Roach Space Education Centre was opened at Hamilton Secondary College in Adelaide’s southwestern suburbs in 2017, coinciding with the city’s convention centre hosting the International Astronautical Congress and former astronauts Andy Thomas and Pam Melroy attending. The school’s specialist space education centre has four main areas, including a simulated Martian crater and landscape with seven geological zones. It was built with rock collected from all over Australia. Students play out space scenarios with teams taking turns to operate as astronauts dressed in full space suits collecting samples on the Mars surface. Students will play scientists monitoring data and problem solving at the school’s mission control room. The briefing room is an audio-visual experience where students can watch an introductory video about issues that involved in moving humans to Mars. A space laboratory is the fourth area of the school’s immersive hands-on learning experience that combines the four elements of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) learning into the theme of space education. The centre is used by all of the school’s 1000 students as well as many visiting primary schools. The school’s space program has been supported industry partners. Hamilton Secondary College started in 1958 as Mitchell Park Boys Technical High School. It became co-educational from 1972 as Mitchell Park High. In 1991, Hamilton Secondary College was born from amalgamating with Glengowrie High School that was on land once owned by the Hamilton wines family. 


innovations among those pushing technology in new directions

South Australian urban electricity carried by 725,000 poles invented in 1924 by James Stobie

An ungainly South Australian icon, the Stobie, a powerline pole made of two steel joists held apart by a slab of concrete, was invented in the 1920s by Adelaide Electric Supply Company engineer James Cyril Stobie. His idea overcome two South Australian problems: scarce timber and abundant termites. As Adelaide Electricity Supply’s chief draftsman, Stobie invented his pole to carry electricity cables and telegraph wires in 1924. The company paid him £500 for the patent rights. The first of the now-725,000 poles were erected in South Terrace, Adelaide, and were then used extensively in building the electricity transmission and distribution infrastructure throughout the state. The Stobie pole was central to the rapidly expanding Adelaide Electricity Supply’s network. In 1936, Stobie converted a Sterling coal truck so it could install 21-metre long concrete-steel poles weighing 7.7 tonnes. The Electricity Trust of South Australia took over from Adelaide Electric Supply in 1946 and Stobie became chief design engineer. In that year, Stobie and Wheadon, with John Ragless Brookman, formed The Stobie Pole Syndicate  to patent the design and then sell it or the manufacturing rights. The Hume Pipe Company became their first agents but, despite many international inquiries, South Australia has largely remained the only place where they are widely used. SA Power Networks (formerly the Electricity Trust of South Australia) continues to make stobie poles at a plant in Angle Vale. The expected service life of a Stobie pole is more than 80 years. 

Alfred Traeger's two-way radio with pedal power enables flying doctor/school of the air

The two-way-radio powered by a pedal-operated generator was invented by Alfred Traeger in 1927 and became the central to the success of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and long-distance School of the Air education in the Australian outback. Traeger, ''curious, patient, precise”, studied mechanical and electrical engineering at South Australian School of Mines and Industries (1912-15). Always intrigued by radio, he obtained an amateur operator's licence and built his first pedal transmitter-receiver. He was contacted by flying doctor service founder John Flynn to assist in experiments to give remote outback families radio access to medical treatment. Flynn and Traeger carried out wireless experiments in outback areas, and transmitted Australia's first radio telegram. But copper oxide Edison batteries they used proved unsuitable for remote homes. Traeger developed a pedal generator to power a Morse cord wireless set. He added a typewriter keyboard enabling unskilled operators to type a message in plain language and have it transmitted in Morse. In 1939, Traeger's set dispensed with pedals and adopted a vibrator unit. Traeger also suggested the outback school of the air, later started by Adelaide’s Adelaide Meithke. With his brother and father, he founded Traeger Transceivers and exported his radios. In 1962, pedal sets went to Nigeria; in 1970, he provided an educational radio network for Canada. Traeger continued inventing. He designed a gas-turbine-driven car and used solar power to convert salt water to fresh water.

Charles Rothauser's Adelaide inventions: world firsts in syringes and dual-flush toilets

Besides inventing the world’s first disposable plastic hypodermic syringe in Adelaide in the late 1940s, Charles Rothauser, a pioneer of the injection-moulding of plastics, also developed the first all-plastic toilet cistern. Hungarian-born Rothauser, educated as an architect in Vienna, had begun making dolls with his wife Christine in Adelaide in 1939 as the Quality Toy Company. Finding a niche in the nascent plastics field enabled Rothauser to invent the plastic hypodermic syringe – a medical breakthrough that benefited millions of people. Starting with a factory in Norwood in 1941, his Caroma company became Australia’s leading manufacturers of bathroom products, including the world-first dual flush toilets system in 1982. He developed the Caroma Deluxe, the world’s first all-plastic one-piece moulded toilet cistern to combat Adelaide water’s corrosive effect on brass fittings. He built on the Caroma innovations with the first two-button dual flush and smartflush technology. Caroma was the first company to achieve the Australian water efficiency labelling and standard (WELS) five-star rating. Rothauser won a swag of export and design awards for his Caroma products out of the factories in Wetherill Park, Sydney (closed in 2014) and Norwood (closed in 2017).
Caroma products continue but are now all made overseas, with the Norwood plant shutting in 2017. The Caroma Dorf group of companies continues to offer bathroom, kitchen and laundry products from brands such as Fowler, Dorf, Clark, Epure, Radiant and Irwell. But its products are now made in Malaysia, China and Europe.


Photocopying developed by Ken Metcalfe and Bob Wright at 1952 Defence laboratory in Adelaide

Xerography (photocopying), using liquid developer, was advanced by Ken Metcalfe and Bob Wright of the Defence Standards Laboratory in Adelaide in 1952.  Xerography is a form of copying invented by American Chester Carlson in 1937. Carlson based his method on the property of some materials to increase their ability to conduct electricity when exposed to light (known as photo-conductivity).The xerographic process exposes a photosensitive surface to light reflected through or from the image to be copied. Next the surface is dusted with a dry powder developer that adheres to the charged areas creating a copy of the image. The copy is then transferred to paper and fixed with heat. Carlson's process reproduced black and white images well, but not images, such as photographs, with any shading. Metcalfe and Wright of the Defence Standards Laboratory (formerly the Munitions Supply Laboratory) in Adelaide studied xerography to adapt it for industrial and military use. In 1952, they began to use liquid developers which, because they contained more pigment particles than the dry developers, allowed copying of images containing continuous tones. Metcalfe and Wright's invention allowed the development of colour copying by overprinting consecutive images.


Stan Ostoja-Kotkowski pioneers use of laser sound, image technology from Stirling studio

From a Stirling cottage in the Adelaide Hills for 40 years from the mid 1950s, Jozef Stanislaus (Stan) Ostoja-Kotkowski pioneered work in laser sound and image technology, especially chromasonics, laser kinetics and sound-and-image productions. Ostoja’s work included painting (developing geometric art in Australia), photography, film, theatre design, fabric design, murals, kinetic and static sculpture, stained glass, vitreous enamel murals, op collages, computer graphics and laser art. After learning drawing under Olgierd Vetesco in his native Poland, Ostaja studied at Dusseldorf Academy of Fine Arts (1945-49) before migrating to Australia. He enrolled at the Victoria School of Fine Arts National Gallery School under Alan Sumner and William Dargie but also brought European abstract expression to the school. In the 1950s, Ostoja moved into a Stirling cottage with studio where he lived under the patronage of the Booth family for 40 years. His pioneering of the use of laser, sound and image technology extended to work with electronics company Phillips, then in Adelaide.  In the 1950s, he joined Ian Davidson on experimental films and moved into theatre set design, including Adelaide University’s Elder Conservatorium Elixir of Love, employing startlingly new light settings. In 1960, he staged Orpheus as Australia’s first attempt at quadraphonic sound and chromasonics: translating sound into visual images.For the 1964 Adelaide Festival of Arts, Ostoja designed the largest yet light mosaic on an 11-storey building. For the 1968 festival, his Sound and image using a laser beam was a world first.

Frank Seeley's plastic air conditioner move sets off cool revolution around the world

Plastic thinking motivated the start of Seeley International in 1972 when Frank Seeley switched from selling portable evaporative air conditioners to making them. Seeley saw plastics as the way to overcome the problem of corroding metal air conditioners. He set up in his garage at home in suburban Adelaide, making 1000 plastic air conditioners in the first year. Despite the doubts of others, Seeley persisted and developed all-plastic evaporative air conditioners – first portable and then, in 1983, ducted rooftop air conditioners. This was a breakthrough for the whole industry. The all-plastic air conditioners helped grow the rooftop cooling market in Australia from 12,000 units each year to around 70,000 units a year. Plastic air conditioners became industry standard. This growth led to Seeley expanding in own manufacturing capacity and approach. After using assembled parts made by suppliers, Seeley gradually brought more and more processes in house at its Lonsdale plant. This included its own injection moulding of plastic, as well as making motors, pumps and filters. The in-house manufacturing at first happened because suppliers had a monopoly and were increasing their prices. Since then, it has become part of the Seeley philosophy to provide local jobs. During the 1980s, Seeley began exporting evaporative air conditioners – first to the Middle East, then USA, then UK. It opened several sales offices around the world and won awards for design and manufacturing best practice. Seeley’s passion for innovation continued in 2010 with another revolution: Climate Wizard.


with Tonsley's success followed by Lot Fourteen in Adelaide CBD

Multifunction Polis/MFP mired in 1980s/90s fight; morphs into Technology Park at Mawson Lakes

South Australia’s high-technology hopes were dented when the Multifunction Polis (MFP), a controversial scheme for a planned community proposed in 1987, was abandoned in 1998. Futuristic infrastructure and modern communications were expected to help attract high-tech industries to the MFP, first proposed at Australia-Japan meeting in Canberra in 1987. Asian, particularly Japanese, investors were targeted. The swampland site at Gillman, north of Adelaide, selected in 1990 against interstate contenders, was criticised along with claims the project would become a Japanese settlement. More than 100 Australian and Japanese companies signed up to the MFP feasibility study but the negative publicity and a Japanese economic collapse stopped investment and the federal government withdrew funding in 1996. The state government announced the project’s demise in 1998. The 1980s idea of creating high tech villages at Gillman disappeared but development did procee at another northern Adelaide suburb, formerly called The Levels, site of a University of South Australia campus. The state government, with developer Delfin Lend Lease, proceeded along similar lines to the MFP but the name was dropped. The area is now occupied by Technology Park Adelaide and Mawson Lakes suburb. Technology Park features mostly high-tech industrial businesses and the Mawson Lakes is a mostly residential development set around artificial lakes. Its mix of modern low- and medium housing are served by shops, cafes, restaurants, a hotel, and office-based businesses in Mawson Central.

South Australian car plant at Tonsley now an award-winning new technology precinct

Tonsley Innovation Precinct (the former site of Mitsubishi and Chrysler car making in South Australia) is a high-tech, high-speed internet grouping of businesses and investors with creative entrepreneurs. The 61ha site was bought by the state government in 2010 and transformed into an award-winning setting for leading research and education institutions, international companies as well as local startups, business incubators and accelerators. The district’s focus sectors reflect South Australia’s major economic strengths and opportunities: health, medical devices and assistive technologies; cleantech and renewable energy; software and simulation; mining and energy services. Driven by Flinders University, the South Australian government and the Manufacturing Co-operative Research Centre, Tonsley Manufacturing Innovation Hub taps into mature global companies, local enterprises and startups at Tonsley but extends to the state's  defence industry and advanced manufacturing nationally. The hub promotes the use of robotics and automation in highly networked and flexible cloud-based production. Flinders University’s role at Tonsley is to research advanced technologies in fields as diverse as medical devices, autonomous technologies, renewable energy, smart materials, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, nanotechnology and photonics. It aligns the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, Medical Device Research Institute, Flinders Nanoscale Science and Technology and New Venture Institute.

$551 million City Deal focus on Lot Fourteen innovation hub, with space agency, gallery

The $551 million Adelaide City Deal, a 10-year agreement between the Australian government, South Australian government and the City of Adelaide in 2019, aims to boost Adelaide’s innovative drive and vibrancy. Under the City Deal, the governments will invest in Lot Fourteen, the former site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital on North Terrace, Adelaide, as hub for innovators, entrepreneurs and artistic creators. Lot Fourteen will host the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency, its mission control centre and the Australian Space Discovery Centre. The City Deal will also invest in an Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery ($85 million) and an International Centre for Tourism, Hospitality and Food Studies at Lot Fourteen. Other investments as part of the city deal will include $10 million from the federal government and up to $12.6 million from the City of Adelaide towards smart technology. It will be part of plans for the state’s digital service delivery while building the National Broadband Network, the South Australian government's Gig City, and the City of Adelaide's Ten Gigabit Adelaide. An Aboriginal business hub for Lot Fourteen will receive $3 million. Governments will work with the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, and the University of South Australia as Collaborating Partners on developing the City Deal plan.


South Australia's first chief entrepreneur to be based at Adelaide Lot Fourteen innovation hub

South Australia appointed its first chief entrepreneur in 2018, to be based at the $27.5 million innovation, incubation, startup and growth Hub at Lot Fourteen, the site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital on North Terrace, Adelaide. The new Liberal state government also appointed an entrepreneurship advisory board to oversee 2018. A new model for entrepreneurship in South Australia would be called FIXE (the Future Industries eXchange for Entrepreneurship.) FIXE@Lot Fourteen will comprise up to 650 workspaces spread across Lot Fourteen for startup business and more established commercial tenants. The first chief entrepreneur chosen was Jim Whalley, chairman and a founder of innovative defence industry company Nova Systems and a former fighter pilot. He replaced Tom Hajdu, the chief innovator appointed by the previous Labor state government. Hajdu was in charge of TechInSA, a revamped version of BioSA to “build a vibrant startup community in South Australia”. TechInSA ran a $10 million Early Commercialisation Fund from 2016, with 52 companies receiving more than $7.5 million. This fund was put on hold for review by the new Liberal government. TechInSA also ran the Thebarton Incubator and Tech Hub whose bio and other technology tenants were moved under the Office of Chief Entrepreneur. The Liberal government will back a research, commercialisation and startup fund aiming to support businesses, researchers and universitiesin solving industrial problems, commercialise products and services, attract research investment and encourage growth of startups.

Three South Australian universities work with industry in areas such as defence, biomedicine

All three major South Australian universities are involved in turning their research into technology. Each has its own commercialisation arm: Adelaide Enterprise at Adelaide University; Flinders Partners at Flinders University; and UniSA Ventures at the University of South Australia. South Australia has a long history of success in defence research, underpinned by strong alliances between universities and industry. These alliances were recognised in 2018 through the Defence Innovation Partnership between Defence SA, Defence Science and Technology, and South Australia’s three universities. It will support research, develop and commercialise defence-relevant science and technology with the universities, industry and the state and federal governments working together, particularly through significant Defence Science and Technology research divisions at Edinburgh Defence Precinct. The three universities also work closely in the biomedical research precinct on the western end of North Terrace, Adelaide. Sited alongside the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and Royal Adelaide Hospital, is the University of Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building, supporting about 400 health sciences researchers. University of South Australia’s Health Innovation Building, includes the Centre for Cancer Biology set up within SA Pathology in 2008 as a hub for innovative science. A $280 million SAHMRI2 will be built alongside SAHMRI building to house Australia’s first proton therapy unit. Flinders University has committed $60 million to have a cancer research hub in the building.


Institute of Machine Learning at Adelaide University a computer vision world leader

The Australian Institute for Machine Learning, one of six research institutes at the University of Adelaide, is a world leader in computer vision. With more than 100 researchers, it’s the largest Australian university-based research group in machine learning. Its work follows four themes: theory of machine learning (artificial intelligence that enables computers and machines to autonomously learn how to do complex tasks without being overtly programmed), trusted autonomous systems (able to make explainable decisions, intelligently controlling autonomous vehicles, asking questions when uncertain about decisions and applying reasoning to their surrounds), robotic vision (giving machines the ability to “see” and understand the physical world, using camera hardware and computer algorithms) and visual question answering (enabling computers to give natural-language answers to natural- language questions about the content of visual images.) The Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) was officially established in 2018 with investment from the state government and the university. But the institute was formed from the university’s Australian Centre for Visual Technologies, with a long history of high-impact fundamental and applied research. Its success and experience formed the core of AIML. Machine learning has potential to deliver major social, economic and environmental benefits and impact areas including health, education and finance. Adelaide University AIML’s strengths lie in artificial intelligence, computer vision and deep learning that support machine learning.


as Adelaide looks to revive skills; wires up to become a smart city

South Australian School of Mines and Industries promotes technology in education from 1889

The School of Mines and Industries came out of a South Australian government enquiry in 1888 that found education in technology was needed for mining development and to support agriculture and manufacturing. It contrasted technical education with that by the university and the Fine Art School. Secondary education at that time was largely private and, with Adelaide University, accessible only to a privileged few at that time. Apprenticeship training was primarily on the-job instruction. The South Australian School of Mines and Industries opened in 1889 in the Exhibition Building on North Terrace, later moving to the Brookman Building on the corner of North Terrace and Frome Road, in 1903. The famous Charles Todd was an early nominee for the school’s council president but withdrew in favour of John Langdon Bonython who was a council member and president for 50 years The Brookman Building, funded by a £15,000 gift from George Brookman, was also the home for Adelaide Technical High, set up from the defunct Adelaide Agricultural School founded by Andrew Ferguson in 1897, from 1918 to 1960 as preparatory school for the School of Mines and Industries. In 1960, the school was renamed the South Australian Institute of Technology. Increased building courses saw the name change again in 1963 to the School of Architecture and Building. In 1991 the school merged with the South Australian College of Advanced Education to form the University of South Australia. The former School of the Mines and Industry building is now part of the University of South Australia’s City West campus.  Adelaide Technical High School moved in 1964 to become Glenunga Hugh School.


South Australian TAFE (Technical and Further Education) recovering from its 2017 setback

TAFE (Technical and Further Education) in South Australia is looking to regain composure after being hit by a training scandal in 2017 when the Australian Skills Quality Authority suspended 14 courses, affecting around 800 students, for being substandard. Besides the sacking of its chairman and most of the board, TAFE’s financial position was addressed by the new Liberal state government in 2018 with a $109 million injected over five years but with campuses to be closed at Tea Tree Gully, Port Adelaide, Urrbrae, Parafield, Wudinna, Roxby Downs and Coober Pedy. Founded in 1971, TAFE SA has delivered vocational education and training (VET) to around 70,000 students each year ­– about the same number of students at a South Australia's public universities. Its 1,300 qualifications have ranged from certificates through to advanced diplomas and bachelor's degrees Students develop skills in sectors such as building and construction; tourism and hospitality; creative arts; mining, engineering and transport; primary industries, animal and laboratory sciences; community services, health and lifestyle; business, justice and information technology; language, literacy, numeracy; and Indigenous education. TAFE SA's training centre include the Tonsley campus, opened in 2014; the Adelaide College of the Arts, the International Centre for Hospitality, Tourism and Food Studies, training restaurant and Mining Engineering and Transport Centre at Regency Campus; driving simulators for the mining industry; truck-mounted mobile engineering training units and virtual enterprises. 


Technical education and skills emphasis revived with naval shipbuilding for South Australia

The technical education focus has sharpened with skills needed for South Australia’s $90 billion naval shipbuilding program. A Maritime Technical College in Adelaide will train workers in areas such as welding and naval engineering. The Defence Industry Education and Skills Consortium is an initiative of Adelaide University, Flinders University, University of South Australia, TAFE SA and the Defence Teaming Centre, working closely with large and small defence industry companies.South Australian schools are adapting their learning methods to modern technology and promoting interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. As part of the STEM emphasis, 50 South Australian primary schools in 2017 took part in the nation’s first large scale rollout of 3D printing technology. This is a joint initiative of the state government, public schools and South Australian company Makers Empire. With professional learning support from Makers Empire software, teachers from each school learn how to use 3D technology to develop students’ critical, creative, design thinking and STEM skills. Makers Empire is a global educational technology company, headquartered in Adelaide. Its world-first 3D printing learning program — Makers Empire 3D for Schools — contains everything schools need to introduce 3D printing to the classroom, a teacher’s dashboard, professional development and analytics.


Global tech companies bring internet-of-things ideas to the Adelaide Smart City concept

Central to the concept of Adelaide as a smart city is the internet of things – involving devices such as streetlights with technology bringing Adelaide closer to being world’s first carbon neutral city.  Key players in the Adelaide Smart City project include Adelaide University, the South Australian department of state development, Adelaide City Council and companies including Ernst and Young, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Fuji and Xerox. The city council partnered with tech giant Cisco  and lighting specialist Sensity to modify more than 60 LED lights along Pirie Street and Hindmarsh Square in the heart of the CBD. The Smart LED lighting pilot tried new technologies to enable greater efficiencies in on-demand smart lighting and conserving energy. Cisco named Adelaide a Lighthouse City, putting it on a global list of 10 cities. That status gives Adelaide access to Cisco's global technology network and a project aiming to connect all computing devices to the internet. Seattle-based Adelaide-listed technology company Buddy Platform, led by South Australian ex pat David McLauchlan, provides date analysis based on the internet of things, using info from vehicles, infrastructure and food and company records. The firm’s backers include Microsoft and an investment fund set up by singer Lady Gaga and her manager. NEC Australia is another global company looking to explore internet of things options in Adelaide such as managing energy and water. For example, NEC has global technologies in relation to detecting water leakages that help identify failures before they fail.


Australia's first gigabit city: Adelaide part of US Ignite and superfast SABRENet broadband

Adelaide is now Australia’s first gigabit city. An Australian-first partnership between the state government and Adelaide’s three universities has delivered the SABRENet (South Australian Broadband Research and Education Network) – 200km of dark fibre carrying a high-speed broadband backbone across the city to university campuses and 14 strategic business innovation precincts. Students, teachers and technology businesses enjoying internet speeds of up to 10GB per second – 100 times the national average. In 2016, Adelaide enhanced its competitive advantage by becoming the first city outside the United States to join the US Ignite Smart Gigabit Communities network of cities, which includes Adelaide’s sister city, Austin, Texas. This coup for Adelaide also transformed US Ignite into an international program. The $7.6 million GigCity Adelaide network at TechinSA, funded by the state government to work with the high-tech industry to bring innovative South Australian products and technologies to global markets. Adelaide-based internet provider EscapeNet delivers internet services through the South Australian Broadband Research and Education Network (SABRENet) fibre optic network to key innovation sites and co-working spaces across metropolitan Adelaide, including Tonsley Innovation Precinct, TechInSA, the Stretton Centre and St Paul’s Creative Centre. Business tenants in those precincts will have access to gigabit-speed internet service plans. GigCity Adelaide was part of the state government’s $80 million to support innovative businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers.

Adelaide's eLabtronics takes micro-controller expertise to STEM in schools around world

South Australian developer eLabtronics has invented an electronics development platform, runlinc, that uses the internet to allow programming directly onto a microchip –  simplifying the creating if IoT (internet of things) and AI (artificial intelligence) applications. eLabtronics believes the invention will become the “gold standard” for building electronic devices that draw on internet-based resources. Unlike other electronic prototyping platforms, runlinc’s system and web page is already on the wi-fi chip, simplifying programming. The wireless runlinc could do away with cables for programming. The technology, developed over five years, received global patent pending status in 2019. Its uses – including DIY smart home kits and IoT-enabled sensing devices for farmer – are almost endless. eLabtronics, started in South Australia by Dr Peng Choo and Miroslav Kostecki in 1994, specialises in micro computers or micro controllers: the brains of digital electronics systems in industries ranging from automotive to aviation. Its innovative ezSystem software simplifies programming. eLabtronics wanted runlinc rolled out  “from the ground up” by teaching students to use it through Australian schools’ STEM (science technology engineering mathematics) education. But eLatronics’ education vision is much wider. In 2009, it launched a not-for-profit education arm called STEMSEL to teach disadvantaged children to use electronics with Social Enterprise Learning. It also operates in Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon, India, Brunei, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand, Philippines, Kenya, Bhutan and the USA.


around the globe; university teaching skills to sport engineers

Adelaide firm FCT the designer/builder of torches and cauldrons for Olympics since 2000

An Adelaide company has designed, built and tested torches and cauldrons since 2000 for the Olympic Games, including Rio de Janeiro in 2016. FCT Flames, an industrial combustion company based at Thebarton, took a bold new direction – from designing burners for cement factories ­– in the leadup to the 2000 Sydney Olympics. When Cathy Freeman lit the Sydney Olympic cauldron, produced by FCT Flames, it was a game-changing moment for the Adelaide company. Since then, no challenge has proved too great for the company, including designing a torch to be used underwater at the Great Barrier Reef and a six-metre-high tornado-style flame used at the Youth Games in Singapore. But it ranks a “burning man”, created for the opening ceremony of the European Games in Baku, as its most challenging project yet. The burning man's outline was created with 600 metres of pipe fitted around a moving stage and the effect was sequenced so that fire spread from the heart out along the man's arteries. There was extensive design and testing done in an Adelaide workshop before it took a team six weeks to install the effects in the Baku stadium. FCT Flames’ small team includes mechanical, electrical and process engineers, electricians, gas fitters and technicians. It takes a hand-drawn sketch or a computer-generated image and turns it into something real. With billions of people watching the flame lighting, there are no second chances. To make sure things go without a hitch, the team has back-up systems, multiple gas paths and back-up power supplies. It is important that the look is right, the safety is right, the performance's right and the fuel consumption understood


Mount Barker's Steriline gates start horse races at most prestigious tracks around the world

The Melbourne Cup gets its start from gates made by a small Mount Barker company Steriline Racing. But, besides Victoria Racing Club (Flemington Racecourse) and the Australian Turf Club (Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney), Steriline Racing’s racetrack equipment is used by globally famous major horse racing organisations including Hong Kong Jockey Club, Singapore Turf Club, Meydan in Dubai, Royal Ascot in the United Kingdom, and Riyadh Equestrian Club in Saudi Arabia. Steriline Racing’s equipment is now used at virtually every racetrack across Australia and it has most of the South East Asian market. The company has also exported to Sweden, Norway and, from about 2002 until 2005, it replaced all of the 55 starting gates in Britain. For more than 50 years, Steriline has specialised in design, making, installing and servicing starting gates, running rails, winning posts, stewards towers and other racetrack equipment for the horse racing industry. Starting gates involve sophisticated engineering but it also considers the psychology of horse and rider. This involves understanding the dynamic of the horses and also the thought processes of the jockey. Safety is a key consideration. This pressure is on to load horses quicker so they are not standing in the gates for such a long time, because that reduces the risk. Steriline Racing’s excellence as an Australian export company was recognised in 2015 when the company was awarded the South Australian Regional Exporter Award and was a national finalist in the 53rd Australian Export Awards.


Zing International's Port Adelaide plant brings a flash to top-class cricket games seen by billions

The flashing cricket stumps and bails used in Test, Twenty20 and 50-over cricket at international and top domestic level, including the hugely popular Indian Premier League (IPL), were designed and made by Port Adelaide-based manufacturer Zing International. The LED technology Zing Wicket System has gone strength to strength since launching in 2012, consistently growing export markets to New Zealand, South Africa, the Caribbean, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Television audiences for the Indian and Caribbean premier league Twenty20 matches run into the billions. Zing’s cricket stumps and bails had their United States debut in the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament in Florida. The Zing Wicket System was first tried in a club game in Adelaide. Once Cricket Australia was convinced about using it instead of the wooden stumps for night matches, it used them in the 2012 Big Bash League in Australia. Invented by Bronte Eckermann, Zing flashing stumps and bails work through an innovative patented sensor system in each end of the bail that flashes coloured lights the millisecond both ends of the bail lift from the stumps. The revolutionary product has solved a common problem where it can be difficult to determine on a TV replay if both ends of any bail have lifted from the stumps and, therefore, if the batsman is out. With the help of 3D printing technology, the company can now manufacture 90% of the Zing System in Australia, with 80% in Adelaide, allowing quality control and local jobs.


drawing on legacy of defence industry working with universities

South Australia's Ellex a leader in developing, making and exporting eye-treatment devices

South Australia’s Ellex, a global leader in making and exporting medical devices, has been researching and devloping ophthalmic laser technology over 30 years, with more than 30,000 Ellex laser and ultrasound systems now used around the world. From a small scientific laser company founded by Victor Previn in 1985 as a division of Quentron Electronics, it drew on technology from the state’s defence industry at Salisbury and the medical insight of its universities. Its first ophthalmic product, a Laserex photodisruptor system, was launched in 1988. Ellex emerged in 1990 and evolved from making two products in its Halifax Steet, Adelaide, factory to its present Mawson Lakes headquarters and manufacturing plant, employing more than 150 people, including engineers, researchers, technicians and operators. It makes devices to diagnose and treat glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, secondary cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and vitreous opacities. In 2001, Ellex was listed on the Australian stock exchange and, from 2006, all its products were branded under the Ellex name. Also that year, Ellex bought Innovative Imaging, a designer and maker of ophthalmic diagnostic ultrasound systems, as Ellex’s first move outside of laser products. More than 90% of Ellex products are sold offshore. Ellex holds a core patents to boost its laser technologies. Its closeness to University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute at Mawson Lakes gives access to engineering and innovative students and on-site research and development staff. 

Micro-X starts a mobile X-ray revolution using Adelaide's car/defence 
skills and technology

Adelaide company Micro-X is pioneering a global revolution in lightweight medical – as well as defence and security – imaging products using cold-cathode X rays. The new Micro-X company moved from Victoria in a strategy to pick up highly-skilled workers from the shutdown of General Motors Holden’s car plant in 2017. It has also drawn on Adelaide’s supply chain of a car and defence component manufacturers such as Entech Electronics, Axiom Precision Manufacturing and Mincham Aviation. Micro-X received a loan from the Labor state government to set up at Tonsley Innovation Precinct’s Main Assembly Building. Micro-X produced the world’s first carbon nanotube powered X-ray imager, a machine that can be wheeled to a patient’s bedside. The cart weighs less than 100kg – easy to manoeurve, especially in intensive-care units. The carbon nanotube technology was developed in North Carolina but Micro-X commercialised it as a medical device and its global distributor Carestream Health is now selling the X-ray carts to hospitals in the USA and Europe. Micro-X is also developing a lightweight digital mobile X-ray system, the Rover, for the Australian Defence Force. The medical imager can be used by military field hospitals, humanitarian aid and disaster relief. From this contract came another, for a bench-top prototype of the Mobile Backscatter Imager with “superman vision” to take high-resolution images of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) from a distance. In 2019, Micro-X has signed a contract with multinational Thales Group to develop its mobile X-ray products for security purposes.

3D-printed skulls prove treatment and teaching boon for Adelaide's famed craniofacial unit

A collection of 3D model skulls started in 2018 is helping Adelaide’s renowned craniofacial unit pursues world-leading technologies. Parents can be shown skulls from the unit’s library at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, to easier to explain surgery, for congenital or trauma problems, on their babies. The unit’s surgeons operate on up to 45 babies a year to correct craniosynostosis causing abnormal head shapes and affecting brain growth. Using a 3D printer bought by the Royal Adelaide Hospital, surgeons can study models of individual patient’s skulls to pre-plan surgery, can use the model to pre-bend titanium plates into the correct shape for an individual skull and even practise before surgery. It can be used as an educational tool for junior doctors and overall it means patients are not spending as long in surgery, reducing  the risk of complications. Models are also used in treating a many other disorders across the craniofacial unit’s two sites at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in North Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital in North Terrace where its patients are adults. They include distorted skulls and faces, cleft lip and palate deformities, facial growth anomalies, tumours and trauma needing rebuilt heads or jaws. The craniofacial unit in 1975 by craniofacial surgeon professor David David. The unit is now a designated national centre of excellence and one of only two stand-alone craniofacial units in the world. The unit also operates on about 15 patients from overseas each year supported by charities and the state government. A surgeon travels to Indonesia to help train local teams.

Presagen funded for its Life Whisperer embyro imagery to help choice on in vitro fertilisation

South Australian company Presagen raised $4.5 million seed funding in 2019 to accelerate its AI (artificial intelligence) medical technology that improves fertility outcomes. The funding came from the South Australian government, the Australian investment group Jungle Capital Group and US-based investment group 3Lines Venture Capital. Presagen is looking to market its AI product Life Whisperer and explore other ways to use it beyond IVF (in vitro fertilisation). Initially, Life Whisperer was to be offered to patients in Australia through the Monash IVF Group before going to American markets, after it gained FDA approval. Life Whisperer is a non-invasive, scalable and secure web-based tool that can be used by IVF clinics globally. Clinicians can drag and drop patient embryo images from a standard microscope and receive an instant report to help decide which embryo to implant into the patient. Presagen recently concluded a successful clinical study in 12 IVF clinics across the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia. Life Whisperer improved accuracy of embryo selection by 30%. United States studies also showed Life Whisperer can detect Down Syndrome to a high level of accuracy through non-invasive analysis of 2D images of embryos. It screens the image rather than slicing into the embryo in the current procedure. Life Whisperer doesn’t require clinics to install expensive or specialised hardware. Life Whisperer is also cost and time effective for couples seeking IVF help. With a usual round of IVF treatment costing $10,000, Life Whisperer costs $300. 

State's pioneering lead in biomed engineering boosted as clinicians, industry collaborate

South Australia has been a pioneer of biomedical engineering and has some of Australia’s leading minds. The state’s strength is in clinical communities and industry working together. Biomedical engineering projects in the pipeline include a nasal delivery device for pain relief, a device to prevent deep vein thrombosis,, an automatic screwdriver for surgeons to optimise healing of broken bones, and wearable technology that alerts Type 1 diabetics about serious dips in blood sugar. levels.



with strong emphasis on a new wave of energy storage systems

South Australian CCT Energy Storage firm produces the world-first TED thermal battery

South Australia’s CCT Energy Storage launched the world’s first working thermal battery in 2019. The TED (Thermal Energy Device), battery accepts any form of electrical input to convert and store energy as latent heat. This makes it versatile, affordable and long-lasting. TED can be scaled to power remote communities, businesses, micro grids, rail signalling or telecommunication, as a substitute for diesel generation. CCT Energy Storage originated in 2011 in small factory in the southern Adelaide suburb of Lonsdae when a tenacious group of scientists and engineers began researching, developing and designing a large-scale thermal battery to revolutionise the market for global renewable energy.  The cutting-edge technology and its potential grew exponentially which led to Climate Change Technologies Pty Ltd being formed as a private South Australian company in 2011 and a working scale prototype in 2012 from more than $6 million in research and development. TED was  unveiled in 2019 with manufacturing to start at its Lonsdale plant of 10 units to commercial customers that year and production expected to rise to 200 by 2020. CCT Energy Storage’s thermal battery incorporates a unique phase change material that can store energy at more than 12 times the energy density of a lead acid battery. The stored energy can then be extracted from the thermal battery via a heat engine, to provide an electricity supply when needed. The thermal battery is not only suitable for renewable energy such as wind and solar. It’s also adaptable to non-renewable energy sources from fossil fuels. Climate Change Technologies has found a Swedish partner in MIBA Solutions for manufacturing and distributing TED throughout Europe.

1414 Degrees using its global-leading heat storage at SA Water wastewater plant

The first commercial pilot of a world-leading molten silicon energy storage system, developed by South Australian innovator 1414 Degrees, started using technology installed at SA Water’s Glenelg wastewater treatment plant in 2019. The 1414 Degrees’ biogas thermal energy storage system (GAS-TESS) stores energy from biogases created by wastewater treatment to increase the plant’s energy self sufficiency. The project is funded by 1414 Degrees and the South Australian government’s renewable technology fund, while SA Water will allow the 1414 system to integrate energy storage and heat with its industrial operations.1414 Degrees, now listed on the Australian securities exchange, expects the use of GAS-TESS in 2019 and give immediate returns for SA Water while building a foundation to apply the technology at similar sites worldwide. 1414 Degrees technology delivers heat as well as electric power. Energy is sourced from renewables or the grid, and is stored as latent heat at constant temperature. The energy is then dispatched on demand. This breakthrough technology is set to disrupt energy storage globally because it provides the world’s most common form of energy: heat. The GAS-TESS idea started in 2009 when Adelaide businessmen Harold Tomblin, John Moss and Robert Shepherd engaged a former CSIRO scientist to develop a device to harness silocon for energy storage. With research funding, mechanical engineer Matthew Johnon developed the technology, and Kevin Moriarty from the mining industry helped commercialise it.

Adelaide's SAGE brings automation to sorting containers at recycling and refund depots

Adelaide-based technology and engineering company SAGE Automation is producing more of its automated smart container deposit systems, as other Australian states follow South Australia’s lead in recycling by introducing a container refund scheme in 1977. With the University of South Australia, SAGE Automation has developed auto return terminals (ARTs). The terminals allow customers to return deposit cans, plastic bottles and glass for a 10 cents-per-container refund. The ARTs identify and sort containers with  industrial internet-of-things technology and a vision counting- and-sorting system developed by SAGE. The system’s  advanced vision technology counts up to 350 containers per minute without the need for coding or labelling. The containers are counted for a predicted refund sum that customers can view on a TV screen at most depots. The machines identify different container types, including unwanted materials. The process takes only a few minutes and a refund receipt is automatically generated. The terminals have proved more than 99% accurate. Since Queensland launched its containers-for-change scheme in 2018, a rise from 32,000 to 230,000 containers per day has gone through 16 semi auto return terminals (ARTs) at private recyclers across six sites. SAGE remotely monitors the machines, including some in rural Queensland, from its Adelaide operations centre. South Australia recycling depots, that have counted and sorted containers manually for more than 40 years, could also benefit from the ARTs.

Ping Monitor concept by Adelaide company to listen and give alert on wind turbine damage

The Ping Monitor, developed by an Adelaide startup company, is a world-first in applying aero-acoustic analysis to help continually detect wind turbine blade damage. There are about 400,000 active wind turbines in the world with blades up to 80-metres long that spin up to 300km/h. The 3800 blade failures globally per year  – from causes such as lightning strikes, hail, sand, rain – cost up to $5 billion. The Ping Monitor has the potential to replace or reduce drones and maintenance crews that routinely inspect wind turbines, sometimes long after a problem has occurred. The acoustic monitor has been developed into a solar-powered version that’s fixed near the base of the wind turbine. This 2.0 version benefits from work between Ping and South Australian IoT (Internet of Things) satellite communications company Myriota, enabling the acoustic monitor to transmit data into the cloud from almost anywhere on Earth. The key piece of technology is the algorithm that can rate the turbine's health from its acoustic signature. Ping’s listening devices would monitor the wind turbines and use satellites to transmit data. Ping was awarded a $170,000 Australian Government accelerating commercialisation grant to help trial, upscale, connect and launch its device. Its intelligent listening platform could also be applied to scenarios such as surveillance, listening for aircraft or drones or monitoring predators such as wild dogs on farms. Ping has been part of the first cohort of the venture catalyst space program run by the University of South Australia at its innovation and collaboration centre.

BiobiN® for composting, developed by South Australia's Peats Soils, being taken up overseas

BiobiN® is an onsite capture-and-contain system to start composting organic material in an odour-free easily-accessible unit. BiobiN® was developed by Adelaide company Peats Soil and Garden Supplies, led by Peter Wadewitz, a leading recycler of organic material in South Australia, to reverse the large amounts of organic and wet materials being sent to landfill. For more than four decades, Peats have been turning what others perceive as “waste” into valuable nutrient- rich products and showing the way to a circular economy. The BiobiN® provides a cost-effective and sustainable solution for organic waste generated around the world. It is being used to process organic and wet materials in Australasia, North America, the Middle East, Japan, China and India. Its suitable for a whole range of outlets: from hotels, resorts, restaurants to food factories and farms. The patented BiobiN® aeration system initiates a composting that cuts bacteria and other pathogens. The composting also maximises organic material that can be collected by the BiobiN®. Once collected, the processed or partially processed organic material can be added to products such as soil conditioners, compost and biofuels – providing valuable nutrients, carbon and organic matter to agricultural soils, landscape supplies and alternative fuels. Peats Soils has bases in Dublin, Willunga and Brinkley, near Langhorne Creek. In 2019, its fourth advanced compost and renewable energy site opened at Whyalla City Council’s Mount Laura Waste and Resource Recovery Centre, with funding from the Australian government. 

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