La Trobe partnership driving innovation

La Trobe University’s partnership with Bendigo-based advanced manufacturing company Ceramic Oxide Fabricators Australia (COFA) has been further strengthened by Australian Government funding for high-tech equipment, including scanning electron microscopes – used in the research and development of oxygen sensors that are exported around the world.

Support through the Strategic University Reform Fund (SURF) has enabled COFA to enhance its research and development capacity, increasing Work Integrated Learning opportunities for La Trobe students, and Industry PhD projects.

Students studying engineering at La Trobe University can complete six-month Work Integrated Learning projects at COFA, gaining on-the-job industry experience and ensuring they are job-ready when they graduate.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO toured the new COFA facilities and said the University’s close ties with industry created excellent opportunities for students, as well as enhancing the region’s skilled workforce.

“SURF funding encourages universities to undertake novel reform in areas of Government priority, such as innovation and commercialisation of research. Our relationship with COFA has enabled undergraduate, Masters and PhD students in Bendigo to gain experience within a highly successful advanced manufacturing business,” Professor Dewar said.

“La Trobe University students benefit from hands-on industry experience, and many go on to work in high-level engineering jobs in Bendigo and beyond.”

General Manager of COFA, Peter Crowhurst, said COFA’s partnership with La Trobe was proving successful for both organisations.

“Universities can really benefit from engagement with industry, helping take research from ‘blue sky’ thinking to product development and commercialisation,” Mr Crowhurst said.

“Giving students an understanding of real-world applications and commercial timeframes is invaluable experience for their future career success.”

Mr Crowhurst said the SURF funding and La Trobe’s commitment to industry engagement was a win-win for the business and the University.

“Our strong partnership with La Trobe gives us access to world-leading experts, as well as the best and brightest engineering students, helping us to innovate and increase our export capability,” Mr Crowhurst said.

“The SURF program supports industry-based acceleration towards regional circular economies, allows us to expand our research and development capabilities, and helps us train the next generation of engineers.”

COFA and La Trobe University received $360,000 through the SURF program, which has funded high-tech equipment that currently supports two industry PhD projects, as well as Work Integrated Learning and Masters students.

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