With their finger on the pulse in the university and defence sectors, The Defence Science Institute’s (DSI) Liaison Managers act as the perfect conduits to collaboration between industry and academia.

Deakin University’s Associate Professor and DSI Liaison Manager Dr Zoran Najdovski talks about his journey into the field of education and defence.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself

I am an Associate Professor in the areas of haptics and robotics at the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) at Deakin University. I completed a Bachelor of Mechatronics, a Bachelor of Computer Science and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering (haptics) at Deakin University.

Before commencing my PhD degree, I worked as a test engineer at the Ford Motor company, Australia.

My research career has enabled me to work with extremely talented researchers from around the world. I have been fortunate to spend time as a visiting scholar to share and develop my research experience at the Bio-Robotics Lab at Harvard University, USA, and at the Micro-Nano Control Engineering Bio-Robotics Lab at Nagoya University, Japan.

2) What drew you to DSI?

The strength of DSI lies in its ability to establish connections for both Defence and non-Defence organisations to leading researchers around our country, and vice versa. Facilitating relationships and collaboration between Deakin’s researchers and Defence has been the most rewarding part of my role as Liaison Manager. The commitment of the DSI team to extend the ADF’s reach into academia and supporting the knowledge transfer has been the main driving factor that has attracted me to this role. I hope that I have been able to support Deakin’s research community by aligning and linking its capabilities towards advancing and safeguarding Australia.

3) Comment on the research capabilities highlighted by the university you represent.

Deakin University provides world-class expertise and facilities that have supported Defence research and innovation for over 30 years. The broad range of multidisciplinary capabilities cover autonomous systems and artificial intelligence, advanced materials, energy storage and generation, and physical and mental health.

A prime example is Deakin’s Universal Motion Simulator (UMS). The world’s first haptically-enabled robotic motion simulator research platform can deliver realistic accelerations and manoeuvres at high speed and in any direction. It can support the testing of virtual air or land vehicles during the design stage or provide driver training with performance that is representative of the real vehicle.

Deakin University is a leader in battery prototyping and commercialisation of energy storage technologies, along with corrosion inhibitors, coatings and sensors. It is creating emerging “beyond lithium-ion” battery technologies which are safer, perform better and have smarter design for portability and function with better energy management systems.

4) In your opinion, how important is Australian Defence and academic collaboration?

Over the last 15 years I have seen first-hand the positive impact that a strong collaboration between academia and Defence can have. It provides universities with opportunities to translate foundational research and innovation into the field for testing and validation, acting as a roadmap to commercialisation. I believe that a strong collaboration between Defence, industry and academia can enable a more rapid and agile mechanism to deliver cutting-edge innovation for a competitive sovereign national capability.


DSI aims to establish connections between industry and academia, and encourages researchers who may not have had any experience with the defence sector to make contact to leverage the many grant and support options available to advance research.

To learn more about research collaboration projects and other operations facilitated by DSI, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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