BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Award winners announced

BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Award winners announced article image

Two Tasmanian students who developed new technology to help prevent falls in aged care facilities are among the winners of this year’s BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards.

Winners of the Engineering Category, Isaac Brain and Mitchell Torok developed aWear to prevent serious falls in older Australians for people living in residential aged care or assisted living.Mitchell-TorokIsaac-Brain

It consists of a physical watch that links to a database that can SMS nursing staff about residents’ status and location in real-time. The watch features a button to send an alert and an accelerometer to facilitate fall detection.

Brain,18, is a student at Launceston College and Torok, 18 is a Rosny College student.

Illawarra Grammar School student Macinley Butson,18, won the other two student awards.

She won the Investigations Category for her SMART System – a project investigating two new devices working together to globally reduce unwanted skinandsubcutaneous tissue dose delivered during radiotherapy cancer treatment. This is performed with a Specialised Magnetic Array incorporated with a V2.0 Scale Maille Armour for Radiation Therapy.

Cost-effective water purification technology


Butson also won the Innovator to Market Award after being inspired to develop a way to measure ultraviolet radiation levels required for solar disinfection of water. The SODIS sticker accurately measures the solar UV exposure required to sanitise drinking water through a high accuracy transparent, UV sensitive film coupled with a partially UV blocking filter. At just over a cent to produce, it is a cost-effective way of assisting in water purification.

Allan Alipio from CAPS (Coolgardie, WA) won the Teacher Award.

The BHP Foundation awards are Australia's most prestigious school science and engineering awards.

They are a partnership between the BHP Foundation, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) and each state and territory Science Teachers Association.

Six of the finalists will have the opportunity to go to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the US. More than 1800 high school students from 75 countries, regions and territories are given the opportunity to showcase their independent research at ISEF, to be held in Arizona in May.

STEM skills go well beyond the classroom

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the national science agency is committed to ensuring the next generation of leaders have the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills needed to navigate disruption in a rapidly changing world and innovate their way to a better future.

"STEM skills go well beyond the classroom, they teach our students to think creatively about problem-solving, which will be critical in a future shaped by genetics, synthetic materials, AI, and other disruptive technologies," Dr Marshall said.

"This year’s student finalists have shown our future is in safe hands as they’ve paired outstanding STEM skills with a passion for solving the big challenges faced by Australia, the kinds of challenges we tackle every day at CSIRO."

Supporting young people’s achievements

BHP Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie said the awards had been supporting young people’s achievements and interest in STEM since they began in 1981.

"We've seen alumni from the awards go on to do extraordinary things and I have no doubt that the winners and finalists from this year will become leaders in their chosen professions,” Mr Mackenzie said.

"These awards help us uncover and develop the next generation of innovators. The dedication and passion these students have for STEM is inspiring."

2019 BHP Foundation Science and Engineering award winners


Winner: Macinley Butson, The Illawarra Grammar School, NSW, The SMART System

Second: Tiarra Meier and Anne Zimmerman, Home School Elsmore, NSW, Soil Biology: The

Missing Link in Pasture Production?Josiah-Cheng

Third: Josiah Cheng, Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology, QLD, An in vitro study on the effects of carbohydrate-derived substances on bacterial growth.


Winner: Isaac Brain, Launceston College, TAS and Mitchell Torok, Rosny College, TAS, aWear

Second: Lucy Lake, Barker College, NSW, Phase3

James-Casey-BrownThird: James Casey-Brown, Barker College, NSW, Surf Safe


Innovator to Market

Winner: Macinley Butson, The Illawarra Grammar School, NSW, The SODIS Sticker 


Winner: Allan Alipio, CAPS Coolgardie, WA

For more information visit: BHP Foundation Science & Engineering Awards 



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