Advanced Manufacturing, Sustainable Construction & the Circular Economy

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A discussion around challenges faced recently in Advanced Manufacturing and Construction and the Circular Economy

About this Event

The Environment & Sustainability Research Theme at Western Sydney University welcomes you to Research Week at Western. For further events during this week, please visit the website at

Environment and Sustainability have long been concern for countries around the globe - including Australia. With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, the recent bushfires, and the strong concern around waste treatment, our nation is facing more and more challenges. These new challenges have impacted various sectors including Advanced Manufacturing and Construction. Collaborative research partnerships are crucial for responding to these challenges. There has never been a more imperative time to work together for the sustainable development of the economic and social environments to achieve a safer and higher quality of life for everyone.

This symposium will bring together representatives from government, industry and research under one roof to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing advanced manufacturing, sustainable construction and the circular economy. The symposium also aims to build partnerships between researchers, industry and government to develop strategies to respond to current challenges. Government and key industries will present the impact of these challenges and the opportunities, and WSU research leaders will showcase the university’s capabilities and expertise.

All participants will be engaged actively in the roundtable discussions, addressing key issues facing them and researchers providing expert views and advice.


9:30 Symposium Opening and Acknowledgement of Country , Sarah Zhang

9:35 Opening Remarks and Welcome Deborah Sweeney, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Enterprise and International), WSU

9:45 Challenges and Opportunities for NSW Advanced Manufacturing, Sustainable Construction and Circular Economy - Hugh Durrant-Whyte, NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer

Session I

10:00 Building Resilience in Australian Manufacturing -Michael Sharpe, National Director – Industry; Director – Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre

10:15 FRNSW’s ‘Build it-Burn it’ Fire Research Program - Mark Whybro, Assistant Commissioner, NSW Fire & Rescue

10:30 Circular Economy in Infrastructure Construction - John Harvison, Senior Environmental Specialist, Sustainability, NSW Transport

10:45 Sustainable Construction Materials: Industry Trends and Challenges - Ali Nezhad, Innovation Technical Manager, Boral

11:00 Transitioning NSW to a Circular Economy - Lisa McLean, CEO NSW Circular Economy Network

11:15 – 11:30 Break

Session II

WSU Capabilities on Advanced Manufacturing, Sustainable Construction and Circular Economy - Chair: Mike Kagioglou, Dean of School of Engineering and Acting Dean of School of Built Environment

11:30 Western Capability on Advanced Manufacturing - Richard Yang, Associate Dean Research &HDR, School of Engineering, Discipline Leader (Mechanical, Mechatronics and Robotics) & Don Wright, Director, Launchpad Program

11:40 Western Capacity on Construction Management and Built Environment Vivian Tam, Associate Dean Research, School of Built Environment & Srinath Perera, Director of c4SMC, School of Built Environment

11:50 Western Capability on Construction Engineering and Sustainability - Sarah Zhang, Discipline Leader (Civil and Environmental Engineering) & Bijan Samali, Director, Centre of Infrastructures

12:00 Food Waste – Waste Materials Causing Environmental Pollution or a Source Valuable Industry Raw Material? Vijay Jayasena, Professor of Nutrition and Food Science, School of Science

12:10 Innovate Waste Economies-Circular and Beyond - Gay Hawkins, Professor, Institute for Culture and Society

12:20-13:00 Session III- Breakout and Roundtable Discussions

  • Advanced Manufacturing (Chairs: Inu Rana /Richard Yang)
  • Sustainable Construction (Chairs: Bijan Samali/Srinath Perera)
  • Circular Economy (Chairs: Sarah Zhang/ Vivian Tam)


Prof. Hugh Durrant-Whyte - NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer

Hugh Durrant-Whyte is the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer. Hugh is a world-leading authority on machine learning and robotics, and their application in areas including cargo handling, mining and defence. He has published over 300 research papers, graduated over 70 PhD students, and has won numerous awards for his work, including being named the 2010 NSW Scientist of the Year.

From 2016-18, Hugh was Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Ministry of Defence. From 2014-16 and from 2002-2010, he was a Professor and ARC Federation Fellow at the University of Sydney. From 2010-14 he was CEO of National ICT Australia (NICTA), now CSIRO’s Data61, and from 1995-2010 Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems and of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR).

Michael Sharpe - National Director for Industry

Michael Sharpe is the National Director for Industry at the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC). AMGC is an initiative of the Australian Government. Its goal is to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness across Australia. AMGC is run by a team of industry experts. It is connected with a nationwide network of manufacturers, universities, and export hubs. Michael has vast industrial experience including nearly three decades at Sharpe Bros (Australia), one of the nation’s leading road companies. From 2004 -2014, he served as Managing Director of the family business. Michael has been involved with a range of industry including infrastructure, health & medical research and manufacturing.

Mark Whybro - Assistant Commissioner Community Safety

Assistant Commissioner Whybro joined the NSW Fire Brigades in 1981 and has extensive experience in emergency and risk management. He established the Operational Safety Coordinator position and since 2007, has chaired the national Triple Zero Awareness Work Group. He was appointed Assistant Commissioner Community Safety in November 2011, assuming responsibility for FRNSW’s prevention and community education programs, regulatory and advisory functions in the built environment, fire investigation, fire and human behaviour research, Automatic Fire Alarm unwanted alarms reduction and commercial emergency safety training.

Assistant Commissioner Whybro holds a master’s degree in Business and Technology and a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in Government and Political Science. He is a Graduate of the Institution of Fire Engineers, is a qualified Occupational Health and Safety Auditor, and has been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Dr Ali Nezhad - Boral Limited

Ali Nezhad is the Innovation Technical Manager at Boral Limited. By relying on his extensive innovation management, product development and entrepreneurship experience in academia and industry, Ali plays a key role in driving open innovation in Boral through working closely with academic and industry partners. Ali has led and contributed to development of several commercialised technologies aimed at maximising reuse and recycling, improving durability of construction materials, improving productivity, and enhancing the social impact in the construction industry. Further, Ali has authored 125 peer reviewed publications including 2 books, 6 book chapters and 62 peer reviewed journal papers in the areas of sustainable construction materials, digital engineering in construction and operation optimisation.

Professor Richard (Chunhui) Yang - School of Engineering, WSU

Prof Richard (Chunhui) Yang is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Smart Structures, Discipline Leader Mechanical, Mechatronic and Robotics and Associate Dean Research and HDR in the School of Engineering, Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia. Richard received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering in the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in 2002. Richard has been proactively focusing in engineering analysis, computational mechanics and experimental study of characterisation and evaluation of material properties and mechanical behaviours. His fields of research include multi-scale modelling of advanced engineering materials and structures, structural health monitoring (SHM) and smart structures, advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0, metal forming, and metal surface treatment, etc. He has been awarded 1 ARC DP grant, 2 ARC Linkage grants, and 5 ARC LIEF grants as well as 4 competitive overseas research grants. He has published more than 200 journal/conference papers and confidential reports for industrial partners in his main fields of research - Mechanical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Civil Engineering, etc.

Associate Professor Sarah Zhang- School of Engineering, WSU

.Associate Professor Zhang is the WSU Research Theme Champion on Environment and Sustainability, Discipline Leader for Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the director of Grand Challenges Scholars Program. She is now the Deputy Chair of the NSW Circular Economy Research Taskforce. She joined Western Sydney University in Jan. 2019. Before that she worked in the University of New South Wales for 15 years staying 11 years in UNSW, Canberra since 2007 as a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and then Associate Professor. She received her PhD on Structural Engineering from the University of Hong Kong in 2001.

She has strong interest in Environment and Sustainability and has strong expertise on advanced composite materials including construction and building materials in Civil Engineering and composites in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering. She has been working on novel and green cement, green cementitious composites by using industry wastes and high-performance fibre reinforced cementitious composite aiming to achieve durable, resilient and sustainable infrastructures. She has also been working on defence funded projects on composite and nanocomposites to enhance the structural integrity for aeronautical and aerospace structures. Since 1998, she has published over 240 peer-reviewed scholarly research papers including more than 100 research papers in top international journals in her research areas. She was awarded research grant of over $4 million from various schemes including Australian Research Council (ARC), Australia Defence and government. She is also a CI of the $5m ARC research hub on nanoscience-based Construction Materials Manufacturing.

Professor Bijan Samali - Centre of Infrastructure Engineering, WSU

Professor Bijan Samali is Professor of Structural Engineering and the current Director of Centre for Infrastructure Engineering at the Western Sydney University. He received his Doctorate degree from the George Washington University in Washington DC in 1984 in Dynamics of Structures.

He has published nearly 600 technical papers in engineering journals and conference proceedings and to date has supervised over 40 PhD students successfully and has attracted over $5M in research funding as a Chief Investigator. His main research interests and expertise lie in the general area of Structural Engineering (with emphasis on Structural Vibration Control, Structural Health Monitoring, Wind and Earthquake Engineering, as well as Bridge Rehabilitation and Structural Testing) and materials, particularly concrete structures and pavements, including new and innovative, and green materials for engineering applications. He has over 32 years of academic experience in Australia, and engagement with industry as a specialist consultant for over 35 years.

Professor Vivian Tam - School of Built Environment, WSU

Professor Vivian W. Y. Tam is the Associate Dean (Research and HDR), Associate Dean (International) and Discipline Leader (Construction Management) at School of Built Environment, Western Sydney University, Australia. She is nominated to the College of Expert, Australian Research Council, Australian Government. She received her Ph.D. in sustainable construction from the Department of Building and Construction at City University of Hong Kong. Her research interests are in the areas of environmental management in construction and sustainable development. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Construction Management and Editor of Construction and Building Materials. She has published over 3 books, 21 book chapters, 262 referred journal articles and 173 referred conference articles. She has been awarded forty-eight research grants (totalled over $4 million), including six national competitive projects from Australian Research Council, Australian Government.

Professor Srinath Perera - School of Built Environment, WSU

Professor Srinath Perera is the Director for the Centre for Smart Modern Construction (c4SMC) and holds a personal chair in Built Environment and Construction Management in the School of Built Environment at Western Sydney University. He is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Builders. He was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 2017. He is also member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and the Australian Institute of Project Managers. He holds a PhD from University of Salford, UK. Professor Perera is a pioneer in the field of construction informatics where his work contributed in the integration of AI technologies to construction and project management subsequently developing his research in the area of e-business in construction. He co-authored a research monograph “Advances in Construction ICT and e-Business” in 2017 published by Routledge. He has over 32 years’ experience in both construction industry and academia researching on areas of sustainability, resilience and construction ICT that lead to the publication of two internationally recognised text books by Routledge: “Cost Studies of Buildings” (2015) and “Contractual Procedures in the Construction Industry” (2017). He has over 200 peer reviewed publications and his current research leads work in the areas of Blockchain, IoT, Carbon Estimating and Management FinTech applications in construction leading to Industry 4.0.

Professor Gay Hawkins - Institute for Culture and Society, WSU

Gay Hawkins is a Professor at the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. She researchers in the area of the social organisation of everyday waste practices with a particular focus on plastics. In 2006 she published The Ethics of Waste, a book that has had a significant influence on the development of waste studies within the social sciences. She is currently working on a new project with colleagues from the ICS examining the key role of social and cultural innovation in developing more circular economies.

Prof Vijay Jayasena - School of Science, WSU

Prof Jayasena received his MSc and PhD degrees from Kansas State University in the USA. He has been working as a professor of Nutrition and Food Science at Western Sydney University since 2015. His previous employments in Australia include Professor/Food Science & Technology at Curtin University, Head/Division of Food Technology at the Defence Science & Technology Organisation and Quality Control Manager/Define Fine Foods. He also worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Kansas State University in the USA. Since 2005, Prof Jayasena has published more than 50 papers and delivered more than 100 (including 40 international) presentations. He has received around $12 million worth of grants since 2005. His main areas of research focus include value adding to food industry by-products, food waste utilisation and development of novel healthy foods. A number of his research outcomes have been commercialised including a process he and his team developed to convert food waste into chicken feed with zero waste. He has been granted two international patents and has filled two provisional patent.

He received the “Research Excellent Award” from the School of Science and Health from Western Sydney University in 2019, “Award for being the most-cited paper published in the Journal of Food Science in 2017” and “Curtin University Commercial Innovation (Health Science) Award in 2015. Prof Jayasena’s research outcomes have received significant national and international attention. He has been working in collaboration with a number of international research/academic organisations in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Africa and China

Environment & Sustainability Theme Champions:

A/Prof Sarah Zhang & A/Prof Brendan Choat,

Please note: A Zoom link will be emailed to you the day prior to the event

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