On 2 July 2012 the UTS Newsroom published "The Secret of Success", about the reasons for the success of UTS's priority research centre, The Centre for Quantum Computation & Intelligent Systems (QCIS). Excerpts from the story follow. You can read the full story at: http://newsroom.uts.edu.au/news/2012/07/the-secret-of-success.
Since its launch four years ago, UTS’s Centre for Quantum Computation and Intelligent Systems (QCIS) has developed an impressive track record. Centre Director Professor Chengqi Zhang says the secret to their success lies in three words – brand, talent and governance.
The brand component is about the quality and impact of the research being conducted at the centre. “It’s essentially about identifying your mission – what sort of research do you want to be doing? What sort of reputation do you want to build for your centre? And how do you go about it?” Zhang says.
The talent section of QCIS’s strategy reveals Zhang’s insatiable ability to recruit the best of the best in quantum computation and data analytics from around the world. Three questions Zheng asks himself are: how desperately do you need a certain researcher? How will they fit into your team structure? What do you have to do to get them?
“We handpick people from around the world who have the outstanding track record, the drive and the ability to really succeed.”
When it comes to governance, the strategy is centred on effective leadership – a topic Zhang is particularly passionate about.
“Being an effective leader means having a vision, and the ability to implement that vision at all levels of an organisation by communicating with the people around you and making the most of your planning skills.
“You need a genuine vision – What are you hoping to achieve in the next three years? In the next six? And how do you use recruitment, retention and motivation strategies to get you to those goals?”
Zhang’s strategy is already paying off. QCIS’s numbers are impressive, not least for a university and a centre that are relative newcomers to the research scene.
QCIS researchers are currently working on nine highly competitive ARC Discovery Projects and four ARC Linkage Projects with companies like IBM and Westpac. They have published 212 papers in prestigious journals and conferences since 2008 and are expecting to bring in nearly $1.8 million in research revenue this year.
In addition, three of the only four PhD students in Australia to receive an IBM PhD Fellowship between 2010 and 2012 are students from the centre (the fourth is also a UTS student). But, perhaps most significantly, QCIS is also home to four ARC Future Fellows – Associate Professor Sanjiang Li, Professor Xingquan Zhu, Associate Professor Yuan Feng, and Associate Professor Michael Bremner – whose fellowships denote their outstanding achievements in Australian research.
At the same time, QCIS is building a reputation as a top-notch partner for industry organisations seeking data mining and analysis expertise. Multinational organisations like IBM and Alcatel have built lasting research collaborations with QCIS on a range of projects, including technologies that protect companies against fraudulent online activities, and a number of data mining and analysis projects that assist organisations in managing and interpreting their data.
Zhang himself is a member of the ARC College of Experts for 2012 – 2014 and is recognised as an international leader in the field of information technology. Last year, he won a NSW Science and Engineering Award in the Engineering and Information and Communications Technology category and a UTS Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence in the Research Leadership category.
Excerpts from QCIS profiles:
Rony Novianto – IBM PhD Fellow
Rony Novianto is currently developing a novel cognitive software architecture, known as Attentive and Self-Modifying (ASMO), that can be applied to self-directing systems including software agents and autonomous robots. The architecture orchestrates information from a range of sensory data to solve complex problems.
Novianto is also quickly developing a reputation in the field of information technology. On top of his six-month Endeavour Research Fellowship to study at Lund University, Sweden, he was the only candidate in Australia to receive an exclusive IBM PhD Fellowship in 2011.
Sanjaing Li – ARC Future Fellow
Sanjiang Li explains his work as: “My research aims to establish expressive representation formalisms of qualitative spatial knowledge and provide effective reasoning mechanisms.”
To clarify, space plays a key role in many human activities. Li’s research looks at the role of space in how ‘cognitive agents’, such as humans and robots, make rational decisions.
The researcher is building an internationally recognised body of work in spatial knowledge. Since joining UTS from Tsinghua University in China, his research has been reported at some of the leading artificial intelligence conferences in the world and published in the Artificial Intelligence journal, the most prestigious in his field.
In keeping with the UTS ethos of impact-driven research, the practical applications of Li’s work spell good news both for the environment and the community at large – some of his modelling work will provide a basis for monitoring critical changes in events like fires and oil spills, providing efficient techniques for solving environmental disasters and enabling the development of intelligent systems for early warning and disaster management.