CQUni life in the 70s

CQUni alumni (another word for graduates) Charles Lawrence and Alan White studied at predecessor institute, the Queensland Institute of Technology (Capricornia), which opened in Rockhampton 50 years ago. As some of our earliest graduates, Charles and Alan share their study memories of an unconventional way to test acoustics and learning to use the first programmable computer. 

Sounding the Singing Ship

Charles Lawrence (ADip, 1971)

The Singing Ship was erected in Emu Park in 1970 to celebrate the bicentenary of Captain’s Cook exploration of the bay. The monument represents the sails of The Endeavour and has concealed tubes that create musical chords when they catch the sea breeze.

The Singing Ship.

George Cain was one of our physics lecturers. He specialized in acoustics. The sound for the Singing Ship at Emu Park was designed by him.

I remember how we would pile into George’s Holden to hold these 3m poly pipes out of the back windows as he drove from the Institute along Yaamba Road to Parkhurst, trying to get them to sound properly. It was successful, thanks to George.

Introduction to computers

Alan White (BEng(Civil), 1971)

I do recall that in our 4th and final year we had the use of an Olivetti 101 programmable computer and at my first job in Darwin in 1972 there was one in the office but none of the engineers there knew how to use it. 

Alan White attending his graduation.

At the time I was given the task of calculating the water volumes in 100mm increments of a circular shaped concrete reservoir with sloping internal walls – so boring and tedious by hand – so I decided to switch on the Olivetti and see if I could programme it to calculate the volumes.

The Olivetti 101 (Image credit: Collections catalog))

The programming took a couple of days but after a few trial runs eventually got it to spit out the volumes in just a few minutes. The other engineers who up until then were very skeptical, were fairly impressed with this young engineer from Rockhampton so I ended up being a hero in the office for a couple of minutes.

We love to hear your memories! If you’d like to share your CQUni memories with graduates and students please email alumni-enquiries@cqu.edu.au.

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