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Young researcher wins international naval architecture prize

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Martin Renilson and Zhi Leong

A paper on underwater robots operating near submarines has been recognised by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects (RINA) as the best internationally by a researcher under the age of 30.

Australian Maritime College researcher Dr Zhi Leong was awarded the W H C Nicholas Prize for the best paper published in UK-based RINA’s naval engineering journal, Transactions, in 2016.

“I feel very honoured to be recognised for this work, which was the final paper of my PhD,” Dr Leong said.

“RINA is the international institute for naval architecture, and my paper was selected from submissions from all around the world, which is very humbling.”

My paper was selected from submissions from all around the world, which is very humbling.

“Research is all about the team, and I’d like to thank my supervisors: Professor Dev Ranmuthugala, Associate Professor Irene Penesis and Dr Hung Nguyen.”

Dr Zhi Leong with his RINA medal

Dr Leong’s findings could help underwater robots — called autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) — operate safely alongside much larger moving submarines.

Water movement generated by both vehicles — called hydrodynamic interaction — can adversely affect the AUV’s ability to manoeuvre, threatening safe AUV-submarine inter-operations and potentially causing a collision.

Understanding and minimising the effect of hydrodynamic interaction is important for defence organisations as they increasingly adopt AUV technology to assist with their submarine operations.

Professor Martin Renilson, President, Royal Institution of Naval Architects, Australian Division, presented Dr Leong with his prize during a ceremony held at the Australian Maritime College last week.

Professor Renilson said that the quality of Dr Leong’s research would have far-reaching benefits for the safe operation of the vessels.

"Dr Leong’s paper was highly regarded by the peer reviewers. His work is not only of a high standard, but it is significant because of the increased use of unmanned underwater vehicles operating in conjunction with submarines.

“An understanding of the hydrodynamic interaction between them and the mother submarine is essential for their safe and effective operation.

Congratulations to Dr Leong for such a high-quality and important piece of research.

Dr Leong is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Australian Maritime College, where he’s researching the hydrodynamics of underwater vessels.

Published on: 09 Jun 2017