The University of Newcastle has appointed engineering heavy-weight Dr Alan Broadfoot as the director of the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER).
Dr Broadfoot, former managing director and chief executive officer of Ampcontrol, is one of the Hunter's most successful entrepreneurs growing the company from 250 employees in 2002 to more than 800 when he stepped down in June 2010. Under his leadership, Ampcontrol's annual turnover increased more than ten-fold to $240 million.
Dr Broadfoot said NIER was poised to become a world-class centre of energy research.
"As well as positioning NIER locally and nationally, I want to establish the institute in the international arena by expanding our already strong research credentials in the fields of energy and resources," Dr Broadfoot said.
"An important part of my role will be to strengthen NIER's global influence by merging the University's current work in smart grids, clean coal and sustainability into a common platform of research and industry collaboration."
NIER will comprise laboratories, workshops, offices and five industrial-scale pilot plant workshops. The facility will encompass University Priority Research Centres and research groups that will explore energy production, distribution and efficiency. Research will also be carried out in the areas of mining, minerals and minerals processing.
The University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Calford, said it was an honour to have an engineer and business leader of such high calibre the helm of NIER.
"Dr Broadfoot's impressive track record in industry will be invaluable in his new role. Part of NIER's role will be active community engagement and education, and Dr Broadfoot is ideally placed to facilitate this important objective," Professor Calford said.
Part of Dr Broadfoot's role will include establishing NIER in its new premises at the former BHP Billiton Newcastle Technology Centre site and overseeing the relocation of the University's research groups to the new centre.
The $40 million NIER project is funded through $30 million from the Australian Government Education Investment Fund and $10 million from the University.
Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Grierson MP, said she was delighted to learn that Dr Broadfoot had been appointed to head NIER.
"Dr Broadfoot's extensive experience in resource and energy related manufacturing and his life-long commitment to research will provide the institute with progressive leadership and enhance its status and outcomes," Ms Grierson said.