ATSE Clunies Ross 2012 Awards Report
Australia's leading innovators and heroes in science and technology were presented with prestigious ATSE Clunies Ross Awards in June for impacting global development in medical innovations, mining and electrical engineering.
The Awards recognise Australia's pre-eminent scientists and technologists who have bridged the gap between research and the marketplace by persisting with their ideas, often against the odds, to the point that their innovations have made broad economic, social or environmental benefits.
The Awards were presented at a gala dinner at the Sydney Convention Centre on 14 June, with an address by Catherine Livingstone AO FTSE, Chairman of Telstra Corporation Ltd, to more than 450 eminent entrepreneurs, decision makers, government officials, researchers, academics and business leaders.
The dinner is ATSE's showcase event for the year, highlighting the success of Australian innovators and entrepreneurs in bringing technological successes to the market place - and the essence of innovation: that it isn't complete until it's “on the shelves.”
The attendance of the Minister Assisting the Minister for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy, and the Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, added to the occasion.
ATSE notes the essential contribution of Professor John Boldeman's 2012 Awards Committee, the sponsors of the awards, the winners - including two Fellows - and the ATSE team that organised the event.
The 2012 ATSE Clunies Ross Award Winners follow in the footsteps of past winners such as Professor Ian Frazer FRS FAA FTSE, co-inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine; Nobel laureate Dr Barry Marshall FRS FAA, who discovered the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers; Dr Fiona Wood, inventor of spray-on skin; and Professors Martin Green FTSE and Stuart Wenham FTSE, international leaders in silicon cell technology.
The winners joined more than 250 Year 10 students and teachers from across NSW the following day in the ‘Extreme Science Experience' with hands-on activities to excite students about science and technology.
The 2012 ATSE Clunies Ross Award winners, whose innovations are providing real life impacts and significant economic pay-offs for Australia, are:
Professor Peter Blamey
Professor Peter Blamey has worked on cochlear implants, hearing aids, and the development of spoken language in children with impaired hearing since 1979, when he joined Professor Graeme Clark's team at The University of Melbourne.
The first patient had just been implanted with a prototype device in Melbourne and Peter's role was to investigate the hearing sensations produced by electrical stimulation of the hearing nerve.
Later, as an NHMRC Research Fellow, he showed that children born deaf could acquire spoken language in a normal manner with a cochlear implant, and the implant produced by Cochlear Limited has had a major social impact on the lives of about 100,000 deaf children globally.
Peter is a co-inventor on more than 20 patent families, most of which have been used in cochlear implants, hearing aids, and/or headset products.
The financial burden of hearing loss in Australia has been estimated at $11.9 billion per year and only about 20 per cent of people who would benefit are using hearing aids. Blamey & Saunders Hearing Pty Ltd is using Peter's new technologies and a new business approach to tackle these problems with a hearing aid that can be adjusted by the wearer, lowering the price of state-of-the-art hearing aids by a factor of three, thus enabling more people to improve their quality of life.
As Deputy Director (IP and Commercialisation) at the Bionics Institute, Peter is helping develop and commercialise a Bionic Eye, devices for deep brain stimulation, and other bionic devices for chronic medical conditions.
Professor Peter Blamey (left) accepts Award presented by Professor Les Field of UNSW
Professor Gideon Chitombo
Professor Chitombo was appointed as Professor and Chair of Minerals Industry Engagement at The University of Queensland in 2009 - the world's first professorial position of engagement.
Born in Zimbabwe and moving to Australia in 1982, he has become arguably one of the leaders in university-based international collaborative mining research in the areas of rock breakage by blasting and underground mass mining using caving methods.
These are increasingly becoming the preferred methods to economically and safely mine large-scale, low-grade metalliferous mineral deposits such as copper and gold.
He was instrumental in forming the now long-standing collaborative research involving a number of the major international mining companies in Australia, South Africa, Chile, North America and Europe. The research focused on understanding of the caving fundamentals - caving mechanics, gravity flow and fragmentation, as well as confined blasting. This research has underpinned some of the know-how, tools and practices now used by the industry (both in Australia and overseas) for block, panel and sublevel caving design and optimisation.
Professor Chitombo was instrumental in the formation of an international collaborative project designed to develop a numerical model of the blasting process for mining, regarded by his industry peers as the benchmark in the numerical modelling of the blasting process.
His current and longer-term interest is on future mass-mining methods which are likely to include large caving mines or super-caves and ultra-deep pit mining, aimed at maximising resource potential and minimising environmental impacts.
Professor Gideon Chitombo (left) accepts Award presented by Mr John McGagh of Rio Tinto
Professor Stuart Crozier
Professor Crozier is currently Professor and Director of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Queensland. He has published more than 180 journal papers and holds 30 patents in the field of medical imaging. He has supervised more than 20 PhD students to graduation in the field.
His main research and commercialisation contributions have been to the development of applications and engineering innovation in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Several of his innovations have been adopted by industry and around 70 per cent of all MRI systems in the world since 1997 contain technology that he co-invented.
Stuart and his team have continued to develop innovations. One of the most recent are small and dedicated MRI systems for orthopaedic imaging, which have now been adopted by a multinational medical imaging company.
New technology in image-guided cancer therapy and more accurate diagnostics for musculo-skeletal diseases and injuries are some of Professor Crozier's current research directions in clinical applications.
As well as being an ATSE Fellow he is a Fellow of The Institute of Physics (UK). He holds a PhD and higher Doctorate (DEng) in Biomedical Engineering.
Professor Stuart Crozier (left) accepts Award presented by Dr Calum Drummond of CSIRO
Sir William Tyree Kt OBE FTSE
Bill Tyree (later Sir William Tyree) established his business in 1946 and in a short time the Tyree name became synonymous with electrical transformer manufacture in Australia. In 1956 he founded Tyree Industries, a public company and about 13 years later sold his interest to Westinghouse Electric USA under a 10-year contract.
In the early 1980s, he re-entered the transformer industry and formed a company that is today one of Australia's leading manufacturers of power transmission products.
Sir William is still very active in the business and, in addition to distribution transformers, the company is now manufacturing large transformers and has formed an association with a leading transformer company based in Portugal in order to broaden the scope of transformers on offer. He is always seeking ways to progress in the world of transformers which is his first love.
Sir William is an avid believer in and advocate of education and, through The A W Tyree Foundation, has made numerous donations to universities to further engineering in Australia.
He has received many honours and accolades for his service to education and industry. These include Honorary Fellow, University of Sydney; Honorary Doctor of Engineering, University of Sydney; Honorary Doctor of Science, University of NSW; and - among his most treasured awards - the Centennial Medal of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, in the United States.
His ATSE Clunies Ross Lifetime Achievement Award recognises his contribution to technological development in the power transmission industry over more than 60 years and his commitment to education in Australia.
Sir William Tyree (left) accepts Award presented by Professor Robin Batterham, ATSE President