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AEMC96: 2nd BIENNIAL CONFERENCE OF THE ENGINEERING MATHEMATICS GROUP

The Second Australian Engineering Mathematics Conference was held from 15th to 17th July 1996 at The University of Sydney. This was the second biennial conference originated by the Engineering Mathematics Group of ANZIAM. The theme of the conference was ``Engineering Mathematics: Research, Education and Industry Linkage''. 115 delegates from 9 nations registered and 90 papers were presented. Daniel Yuen almost single-handedly edited and produced the high quality refereed conference proceedings before the event. This was a mammoth task, for which we are grateful.

We were fortunate that Professor Gavin Brown F.A.A., Vice-Chancellor of Australia's original university and a mathematician of world-wide repute, was available to open the conference. The invited speakers delivered one of the best presented collections of plenary lectures that I have ever witnessed. In the absence of Dr. John Burgess, Dr. Joe Herbertson (BHP) presented the survey, The Application of Mathematics in the Steel Industry , including observations on what it takes for a mathematician to succeed in the industrial environment. Professor Bill Ames (Georgia Tech.) posed and answered some interesting questions on the symmetry structure of classical and alternative fluid equations. Professor Grant Steven (Univ. of Sydney) displayed some beautiful finite element simulations of moving loaded structures such as aeroplane parts and river passenger catamarans. He argued that mathematics has been used in these commercial developments all the way from design to marketing. Professor George Springer (Stanford Univ.), with his engaging style, spoke of the role of mathematics in the development of new high-strength fibre-reinforced matrix composites. Using the example of aircraft fatigue analysis, Professor Avraham Berkovits (Technion, Israel) argued that modern engineering design still is primarily the result of applying physical principles through the use of mathematical techniques. This relates to the question addressed by Professor Les Mustoe (Loughborough Univ.) of how the evolving system of education of engineers could meet the requirements of industry. It was clear from the discussion, also involving Dr. Stuart Wright (The Royal Academy of Engineering), that concerns about changes to the mathematical education of engineers are shared world-wide. We were reassured to some extent by Professor Ian Lee (I.E. Aust. and Univ. NSW) who explained the rigorous accreditation procedures of I.E. Aust. Professor Aleksander Samarin F.T.S. (Univ. Wollongong) took the global view in addressing, in a thought-provoking manner, the life or death question of whether mathematical modelling could assist in sustainable development.

It is agreed by all that the conference ran very smoothly and the delegates had a very happy time. There were many lively sessions of contributed papers, sometimes held in three concurrent sessions. Most areas of engineering, mathematics education and mathematical modelling were well represented. Some delegates commented that the sessions on mathematics education and on areas related to applied continuum and fluid mechanics were particularly strong. Perhaps the electrical engineers and information technologists could be encouraged to participate more.

This conference was deliberately designed to offer something different from the usually more informal annual applied mathematics conference. Catering, social events and venues were a little more lavish. We employed a professional conference organiser, James Cook of the University of Wollongong Union Conference Office. Despite charging well below market rates for his services, his work was outstanding. The Venue Collection of the University of Sydney Student Union was very helpful. The Australian Technology Park hosted a very pleasant cocktail reception at its premises, where we were welcomed by the C.E.O. Dr. Tom Forgan and by the NSW Minister for Public Works and Services, The Hon. Carl Scully. The conference dinner was held in the beautiful old refectory in the Holme Building at Sydney University. Peter North, Executive Director of the Warren Centre, was an entertaining M.C. and we were honoured to be addressed by Mr. Ric Charlton AM, Chancellor of The University of Newcastle. Invited speakers were presented with opal jewellery, kindly donated by Costello's Jewellers. Joseph Steiner, Chair of EMG, presented the 1996 EMG award to Alan Easton and the EMG International Award to the late Professor Stanislaus Ackermans. Phil Broadbridge presented the student prize, shared between Robyn Spencer (Swinburne Univ. Tech.) and Donna Baker (RMIT) for their papers Two Dimensional Modelling of Multiphase Flows in Fluidised Beds and Spin-Up of a Convected Maxwell Fluid in a Rotational Rheometer Modified to Allow Axial Flow .

It was very pleasing that the conference was backed by the engineering community, with The Institution of Engineers Australia and The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering sharing in the organisation and in financial underwriting. We are very grateful to both organisations. Angus Robinson (General Manager, The Warren Centre) and Peter May (Associate Director, I.E. Aust.) joined Daniel Yuen (Chair, Technical Organising Committee), Joseph Steiner (Chair, Engineering Mathematics Group) and Philip Broadbridge on the Executive Committee. With the professional guidance of James Cook (Conference Manager), this made an interesting combination of interests and skills.

The attendance at the conference was around 20 fewer than the number needed to break even financially. There were several contributing factors. The registration fee was $300, a little higher than what mathematicians are used to for a local conference. Included in this price, were luncheons, morning and afternoon teas and conference proceedings. Some universities, including my own, were already teaching during this week. A significant number of previous attendees chose instead to attend a conference on the education of engineers, held in Spain. There was a simultaneous conference on CAUT projects, also held in Sydney. The conference was held soon after the annual meeting of the Australian Mathematical Society.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of The Institution of Engineers Australia, The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering, State & Regional Development New South Wales, The Australian Technology Park Sydney Ltd., D.I.S.T. International Conference Support Scheme, Compumod Pty. Ltd., Computer Transition Systems and Costello's Australia. AE Books has agreed to buy 25 copies of the conference proceedings. There remain around 90 copies of the conference proceedings to be sold at $55 plus $9 postage within Australia. Considering that this is the world's largest collection of edited papers on engineering mathematics, this is good value. Proceeds of these sales will help to make up the conference shortfall.


Phil Broadbridge
Conference Chair


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