Dr Bronson Philippa – Lecturer, Electronic Systems & Internet of Things

Dr Bronson Philippa

The burgeoning field of Internet of Things (IoT) Engineering continues to be a topic of great interest in the news media. We recently spoke with Dr Bronson Philippa, Lecturer Electronic Systems and IoT Engineering, to find out more about the field and the benefits to studying Australia’s first IoT focused degree, the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Electronic Systems and Internet of Things Engineering, at JCU.

The Internet of Things seems to still be quite a new ‘buzz’ word in the technology sectors. What benefit is there to international students specializing in IoT over more traditional streams such as Information Technology?

Internet of Things Engineering combines electronics, programming, and data science. It’s a modern curriculum designed to train the next generation of technology leaders and entrepreneurs. Its advantage over, say, Information Technology is that IoT Engineering has a broader focus. It trains graduates to work across the entire spectrum of technology from designing devices and networks to developing software and data analytics. This is the entire IoT value chain so graduates have many opportunities to work in different industries.

How do you see those who choose a career in the IoT field shaping the way we, as a society, will interact with technology in the future?

We are currently in the midst of an industrial revolution. Our societies and businesses are being transformed by automation, smart technology, and big data. Those who choose an IoT career will build the technologies that define this revolution.

In 2017, JCU entered into a partnership with global technology giant, Huawei, to develop Australia’s first NB-IoT facility at JCU Cairns, what unique opportunities could this facility offer international students?

Here at JCU Cairns we have an industrial-grade Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) base station on campus. NB-IoT is a new radio technology that is now being rolled out around the world. Our facility means that students and researchers can design new devices and test them here, on campus. If a JCU student or researcher has a business idea for an NB-IoT device, they can develop their product now and get a head-start before the launch of commercial NB-IoT services around the world. This is a unique facility, and we are the only university in Australia to have this type of equipment.

We understand there are a number of research projects utilizing IoT underway at JCU. What projects are you currently working on and what opportunities may exist for new and continuing international students specializing in IoT to collaborate with industry professionals during their study?

Right now, I am working on several, quite different research projects. I am using computational methods to design better solar cells and photodetectors; I am also developing automation technology for local agriculture, and I have recently started working on computer vision techniques to identify invasive weed species. Students are able to get involved with these type of projects during their Honours thesis in the fourth year. Many Honours projects are connected with industry and allow students to work on projects with industry partners.

Given that the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Electronic Systems and IoT Engineering, is a new program, we don’t have students in their Honours year yet. However, I expect that we’ll have Honours projects that link to our industry partners such as Huawei, Optus, Ergon Energy and Cairns City Council among others.

What excites you most about the field of IoT? What drew you to concentrate your research in the IoT in the first place?

I am most excited to see what our graduates will go on to create!

We are at the beginning of a new era of technology. I predict big opportunities for those who are ready to take advantage of them. I was drawn to IoT technology because of its broad application: this is an important technology for almost every industry. Computers transformed the way we do business, but they were only the beginning. The next stage of this revolution is the Internet of Things. It is transformative, and I am very excited to be a part of it.

Find out more about studying the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at JCU.

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