Home » Case Studies » Meat Industry Finds New Use for 3D X-Ray Technology


A PhD student has influenced the future of Australia’s $17 billion red meat industry by applying 3D X-ray technology – typically used in airports – to automate meat quality detection.

The research project between security screening leader, Rapiscan Systems, and The University of Sydney was commissioned by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), who sought to optimise meat grading processes during commercial export. While Rapiscan’s team consisted of world-class software experts, APR.Intern was able to fill a skills gap and match them with meat science PhD student, Cassius Coombs.

“My role was to educate Rapiscan’s algorithm team on the fundamentals of meat science. I was responsible for creating background reports, managing data and marking up muscle, bone and fat in 3D images,” said Cassius.

The combination of state-of-the-art technology with meat science expertise will result in a new application of Rapiscan’s products. In turn, MLA increased the efficiency of how lean meat yield is determined by using X-ray technology to automatically detect meat sections and quality.

“The project introduced me to new challenges you don’t often experience doing a PhD – deadlines, international, multidisciplinary teamwork, a focus on the consumer and deliverables, and the importance of communicating simply. It was a great transition to industry,”


Cassius Coombs, former PhD Intern at Rapiscan Systems

For Rapiscan, Cassius’ contribution was essential in the success of its freshly created MLA project team.

“From the beginning, Cassius was active in team workshops, discussions, sharing his knowledge and learning from colleagues,” 


Loic Boisrobert, Rapiscan Software Engineer

Cassius’ Academic Mentor, Associate Professor Luciano Gonzalez, was also on-hand to support Cassius throughout the project and agreed on the benefits for PhD students.

“Cassius gained invaluable experience while working with an industry leader. He developed new skills and is noticeably more work-ready. I’d highly recommend the APR.Intern program,” 


Associate Professor Luciano Gonzales, The University of Sydney

Following the project’s success, Rapiscan offered Cassius a role assisting the Algorithm Engineering team, which he accepted as part of continuation of his PhD studies. The internship also led to a PhD stipend scholarship for Cassius supplied by Rapiscan Systems, and the work completed shaping the future direction of his PhD, with a focus on detecting diseases and abnormalities via development of a livestock viscera scanning protocol in collaboration with Rapiscan.


This internship was supported by the Australian Government Department of Education, through the ‘Supporting more women in STEM careers: Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) – National Research Internship Program’.