The finalists and winners of the 2017 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been announced at a ceremony in Melbourne, recognising 26 Australian teenagers who produced work that solved real-world problems using innovative inventions and ambitious scientific investigations.
Amongst the finalist entries were a beach-side riptide warning system, a laser system to keep cyclists safe on roads, and research into treatments for diabetes and antibiotic resistant bacteria.
CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall, BHP Billiton Foundation Director Pat Risner and Australian Science Teachers Association Treasurer Jenny Weber were in attendance.
The winners of the awards included students from Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Selected finalists will also represent Australia at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in the United States in May 2017.
The first place winner in the Engineering category was Justin Mitchell from St Kevin's College in Victoria, who developed a musical device. Justin built and programmed the device, which is stored in the pockets of a hoodie, which allows the user to compose and play electronic music on the go. The music can only be heard by the wearer, and there are eight keys, four per hand, with eight notes of one active scale. The user can also change the pitch of the scale, and there are 127 instrumental settings.
The second place in Engineering was shared by the brothers Declan and Callum Predavec, from Mosman High School in NSW. The Predavecs developed a laser that marks a one metre safety distance behind bicycles, allowing motorists to gauge their distance from cyclists to avoid getting too close and to comply with NSW road regulations. The brothers used 3D printing to produce the various parts of the system, including a warning screen on the back of the bicycle which warns motorists if they get too close to the cyclist.
The third place in Engineering was taken out by Dylan Sanusi-Goh from John Monash Science School in Victoria, who developed an affordable drone capable of carrying payloads and with support for thermal imaging applications.
The BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been running since 1981, and are a partnership between the BHP Billiton Foundation (a charity funded by BHP Billiton), CSIRO and ASTA. They are supported by the BHP Billiton Foundation and managed by CSIRO.
The program aims to reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects that demonstrate innovative approaches and thorough scientific or engineering procedures. According to CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall, it is critical to support and promote STEM for students.
"STEM drives innovation globally but in Australia the participation and engagement in STEM subjects by school students is declining," Dr Marshall said.
"These Awards are an innovative and inspiring way to connect with future STEM professionals and encourage them to join us in tackling the challenges of tomorrow.
"The work that these students have done is truly inspiring and I have high hopes for the future of Australia."