The 1910 letter is from George Swinburne, the President, to John Tranthim-Fryer, the Director. He tells the Director that he will not be able to attend the award ceremony and gives Mr Tranthim-Fryer some quite specific, even stern, advice about the way the ceremony should be conducted:
"I have...seen Mr Atlee Hunt, the Secretary to the Minister of External Affairs, with regard to exhibiting some films of Australian industries, which I thought probably would please the students better than speeches, interspersed with music. After the certificate presentation we can have an hours exhibition of cinematograph views. The minister...kindly asked Messrs Pathe Freres to grant every facility and the best films available. They recommend Hydraulic sluicing, the Wool Industry, the dairying Industry and Hop Picking...winding up with a view of the Hawkesbury river, which I am told is a very good film."
I wonder how many other college certificate nights in 1910 had film viewing as part of the evening's events. George used his contacts to source the very latest technology to teach and...entertain. I think it indicates very well 'how up with it' George Swinburne was and how this passion for innovation was conveyed within the college he founded.
And technology now...
gSTAR represents the next generation of supercomputing, and is one of only six such machines in Australia and among the top 200 in the world.
Letter two is from a chemist, Mr Joseph Fletcher, who is working with the Don Chemical Company to create synthetic indigo. I understand from Professor Rae, at Melbourne University who is researching the work of this chemist, that this was a holy grail. Mr Fletcher had previously been given permission to use the Swinburne College laboratories to conduct experiments/research at Swinburne in the Engineering department and wants to continue using Swinburne facilities.
Mr Fletcher asks the Head of Engineering, Mr Green, "for an opportunity to continue experiments on indigo dye at your laboratories." He refers in the letter to "the incident of delay by the Don Chemical Company in paying fees for his previous time in the labs, and hopes he can pay in advance to overcome any difficulty." (It seems some other factors to do with use of facilities remain the same)
The third letter is another defining illustration of Swinburne's links with industry and its capacity to enable and conduct research in new areas. In June 1920, the Head of Engineering, Mr Green, writes to the President about training refrigerating engineers:
One of the suggestions is to include in our Day engineering classes a course of work in "Refrigerating Engineering". ..such a course would run parallel with our other diploma courses...The Institution of Refrigerating Engineers are interested and are willing to give all the help they can and to provide a scholarship as well. We should require a small experimental plant for testing and research work.
...I thought of getting some refrigerating engineers together and talking the matter over with them and perhaps some of the refrigerating firms will be willing to help us financially.
I think there is a large field for research and experimental work in connection with refrigeration in Victoria as so many districts are now having cooling stores erected.
Written by Sara Jervis (Coordinator, Swinburne History & Artefacts)
Image credit: Powerhouse Museum