Kaushalya Premadasa, PhD ('07)
Advanced Networks Research Group, Networks and Systems Research Lab
Supervisor: Dr Bjorn Landfeldt
Topic: Dynamically Re-Configurable Communication Protocols
My love of research began when writing my fourth year thesis for my undergraduate degree. Applying analytical skills and solving problems is the essence of a research degree. Each step of the process is exciting: extensively researching a topic, proposing a new idea then developing methodologies to support that idea and finally writing up… it is really satisfying to send a paper out into the research community that says ‘my hypothesis worked!’.
Dr Bjorn Landfeldt was my supervisor in the Advanced Networks Group, and my thesis was concerned with generating communication protocols that are tailored to an application’s requirements and the network characteristics for a node in the wireless environment. To do this, I investigated a novel communication reference model based on the proposed philosophy of decoupling the individual functions in the communication stack instead of the current philosophy of aggregating them into static-bound protocols. The main focus of my thesis was in wireless sensor networks and how the proposed methodology could be deployed in energy-constrained sensor networks for generating application-specific lightweight transport protocols for such networks.
I was initially attracted to Sydney by its prestigious reputation, and I was impressed when I met my potential supervisor that the environment was friendly and that the culture emphasises supporting students. Studying at the School of IT was great, the Advanced Networks group is a very close-knit bunch, and I have made lots of friends. Weekly group meetings really helped to form ideas through collaborative discussion, and offered contact with other staff not directly involved in my study, whose ideas and feedback can be invaluable. There is access to rich information and resources in the School, so everything I needed to complete my work, and make life a little bit easier, was available.
I have started work as an IT consultant at Accenture, working in their Communications and High Technologies Operating Group. I think my PhD helped when applying for jobs. Having a PhD illustrates to potential employers that you have spent 3 years developing analytical, written and verbal communication skills. This can set you apart from other applicants and the skills will stay with me throughout my career.
Trent Apted, BCST(Adv)(Hons), PhD student
Computer Human Adapted Interaction Research Group, Networks and Systems Research Lab
Supervisor: Associate Professor Judy Kay
Topic: Natural Pervasive Computing Interfaces for Tabletop Collaboration
I did really well in Computer Studies in the HSC so the next logical step was to study Computer Science at University. I enrolled in the BCST Advanced degree at Sydney in 2000. My degree exposed me to research and after Honours I enrolled in a PhD degree.
My work specifically looks at tabletop computer interfaces that support social interactions, e.g. a group of friends passing photos around a table - but in digital form. The aim is to enable a group to view images, as they would in a photo album, but on the tabletop using digital pens to select and enlarge images.
The atmosphere at uni is very exciting – you can do some really fun things here. Last year I auditioned on campus for a SBS reality TV show, in which a group of University students who are all self-confessed nerds with little athletic ability are taken under the wing of elite soccer coaching staff in an effort to learn the ‘beautiful game’. I did it for a laugh with a group of students in my lab and I was chosen! I was selected as the goal keeper but didn’t quite take to it as naturally as programming. I broke my finger during filming but it was great fun and my fellow nerds and I have become good friends.
Choon Jin Ng, MSc Student
Information Visualisation Research Group, Multimedia Computing Research Lab
Supervisor: Masa Takatsuka
Topic: Remote collaboration technology
I transferred to Sydney University from another university during my undergraduate degree. By the time I finished my BCST degree I had done a third year project with, and so went on to honours my supervisor, Masa so I decided to go on to complete masters with him. The projects in my lab are very technical - my project is on large scale collaboration via a sophisticated network. Other people in the lab work on 3D modelling based on laser tracking or body mapping using anatomical information and there is a lot of cool equipment in the lab to play with like TableTop – a large display table top screen with multi-touch capability.
My experience at the University of Sydney has been very positive. My supervisor is very supportive and helpful and I have access to talented academics working in my field. I regularly talk to researchers through video conferencing, exchanging ideas and getting feedback. I have been able to travel within Australia to present my work at international conferences. I have also been able lucky to work for the Command and Control Centre of DSTO (the government Defence Science and Technology Organisation). The lab is very sociable, we have coffee every day and help each with our work – it is a really nice environment to work in, and the new building is very modern.
I have learnt the difference between research and development – development means working on existing ideas, but research is investing your own ideas and that idea must be strong enough to create a paradigm shift in the area. It is really exciting to be working on research that could be recognised internationally.
Darren Williams, BSc Hons ('95), PhD ('04)
Chief Executive Officer, Sensory Networks
I completed my BSc majoring in Computer Science and did well enough to be accepted into honours. My honours year was a lot of fun, we had a ping pong table in our room, a great group of fellow students and a wonderful atmosphere. We worked hard too, and when I was awarded first class honours I decided I wanted to keep studying so continued on to do a PhD.
My supervisor was Associate Professor Alan Fekete and my thesis was on a bandwidth management system for active networks. During my PhD I was able to travel to conferences and visit overseas universities. It was very eye-opening; I was able to see the world and gained valuable experience presenting my work to the international community.
After submitting my thesis I started a company Sensory Networks in 2002 with a group of friends from Uni. We produce hardware and software acceleration solutions for network security applications including multi-gigabit content scanning acceleration technology. The basic function of our products is to allow our clients to search vast amounts of data very quickly and is mainly applied when searching network traffic for security threats. We raised $4 million in our first funding round. Since then we have raised over $US20 million for further development of our products.
When the company started I was very active in the hands-on technical aspects of the company’s products, and my PhD experience served me very well. I now spend more of my time focused on strategy, general management and marketing. An average day sees me work on planning and strategy, shareholder and investor management, writing reports, HR and I do a lot of international travel. I don’t do a lot of research any more, but instead work on directing and planning the research we undertake, which is very satisfying.