How a Bus Ad Was the Start of a Beautiful Friendship

Bus Ad is the Start of a Beautiful Friendship

It sounds like the start of a romantic comedy, the ultimate “meet cute” setup—a lovely friendship starts from random glances at a bus stop. But that’s exactly how Justin Stockley, Southeast Asia Surface Water Manager for Xylem in Perth, Australia, connected nearby Edith Cowan University (ECU). Driving his daughter to basketball practice, Stockley noticed a splashy advertisement for ECU’s School of Engineering plastered across the back of a city bus. There, larger than life, an eager young student was pictured beside the university’s flume. Dominating the frame was a SonTek FlowTracker acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV).

Get Ready

Beside the FlowTracker was the headline “Get Ready,” the driving ethic behind the ECU Engineering school’s practical focus. With 27,000 students—including 4,000 international students representing more than 100 countries—ECU is home to the fastest-growing engineering school in Western Australia. Part of that success is the school’s Get Ready approach, says Asha Oudit, Engagement and Business Development Manager for the School of Engineering.

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“One of the things we’re very proud of in Engineering is the hands-on experience our students receive,” she explains. “They’re not just learning theoretical information—they’re getting experience and getting job-ready.”

Intrigued, Stockley contacted ECU to find out what they were doing with the FlowTracker. Working with Oudit and A/Prof Mehdi Khiadani, Associate Dean for Research at ECU’s School of Engineering, he was introduced to the school’s extensive hydraulics laboratory, which is dominated by a tilting flume 13 meters (42.6 feet) long.

Highly Precise

Khiadani designed the flume himself, and selected the FlowTracker to provide highly precise measurements of velocity in the system under a wide range of conditions. The FlowTracker detects dips in velocity as the sidewalls create drag and turbulence in the flow. With the proper software and adapter cable, the instrument is capable of operating in low-volume situations common in the flume. Khiadani said the only adjustment needed to adapt the FlowTracker to the lab was a slight shortening of its wading rod.

Understanding flow dynamics under a wide range of conditions—which can be simulated in the flume—and learning to master the instruments that can measure them are integral to ECU’s Get Ready philosophy.

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“It’s important to stay up with technology and what tools are available,” Khiadani says. “If a student gets experience with this instrument, they are up to date in what technologies are available. We cannot stay in the traditional approach.”

Khiadani also purchased a Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV) for the lab, but points out that the acoustic instrument offers a range of advantages, including the ease of operation and portability that have made the FlowTracker popular for stream velocity measurement worldwide.

“We don’t have to worry about the safety of the student, and you don’t need to have lots of training to use the equipment,” Khiadani says. “With the LDV, it’s a high-powered laser, so there’s a safety issue. You need training. And you cannot take the laser into the field.”

FlowTracker2

Inspired by his visit to the ECU lab, Stockley contacted SonTek’s head office in San Diego, California. He proposed upgrading the university’s FlowTracker to a FlowTracker2, which features a large color screen, intuitive workflow and a quick, instant quality control (QC) process.

“This is a world-class lab and a staff dedicated to the success of its students,” Stockley observes. “The spirit of exploration and hands-on, get-ready education is a perfect fit with what we would like to see out in the industry.”

Daniel Wagenaar, a SonTek Applications Engineer/Senior Hydrologist, visited the lab and trained Khiadani and his students on the new instrument. Stockley offers ongoing support.

ECU School of Engineering’s brand-new FlowTracker2 renders the bus ad outdated, of course. But the publicity photo is still displayed proudly in the lobby of the School’s administration building, says Oudit. 

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“I always tell the Xylem story to visitors,” she says. “Everybody knows at least ‘FlowTracker’ when they leave here.

“Xylem is proactive, innovative and exceptionally friendly,” she adds. “It’s really great to be partnering with them.”

Edith Cowan University

Edith Cowan University, or ECU, is Australia’s only university named after a woman. Cowan was a crusader for the rights of women, children and the poor, and in 1921 became the first woman elected to the country’s Parliament. Prior to the establishment of a university in Western Australia, she raised funds to send students to other states for university education.

Honored with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and commemorated on Australia’s $50 bill, Cowan was an ideal namesake for the Perth-based institution when the Western Australia College of Advanced Education was granted university status and renamed in 1991. Today, ECU is home to the state’s fastest-growing School of Engineering, demands the highest marks among applicants to the school, and has received the highest student evaluations of any private university in Australia.


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1 Responses to this article

This is absolutely great!

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