In the spotlight (Day 204)

As we approach the year end, lots of chemical engineers around the world are picking up their accolades for a year of hard work.

I’ve selected two stories for today’s blog from Malaysia and New Zealand – countries with very active and enthusiastic IChemE members.

Curtin University - design award

Curtin Sarawak chemical engineering students awarded at Design Project Award ceremony. Image courtesy of Curtin University

On 2 December in Miri, Malaysia, ten projects were showcased by final-year chemical engineering students of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia at their annual Design Project Award presentation ceremony.

Congratulations to Team ‘Innovazione’ who claimed the Best Design Project Award for its project: ‘Design of an offshore prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG)’.

In second place was Team ‘Green Design’ with its project: ‘Production of Alpha-tocopherol from Palm Fatty Acid Distillate’, while team ‘ETBE’ came in third for: ‘Ethyl Tert-butyl Ether (ETBE) Production Plant’.

Design Project is a final-year unit of the Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) course  – which is accredited by IChemE. Curtin’s students are required to undertake open-ended projects for 12 weeks, involving aspects such as market and site evaluation, process selection, process development, health, safety and environmental compliance, detailed economic evaluation and detailed design of major and minor equipment.

Congratulations to everyone involved in Malaysia.

Dr Michelle Dickinson

Dr Michelle Dickinson – winner of the Prime Minister’s Science Prize for Science Communication (NZ)

In New Zealand, this year’s winner of the NZ$100,000 Prime Minister’s Science Prize for Science Communication was Dr Michelle Dickinson, capping off a prize-winning year for the University of Auckland engineering lecturer.

Michelle, who is a senior lecturer in chemical and materials engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, was also named Science Communicator of the year at the annual New Zealand Association of Scientists awards last month.

Along with her research and teaching roles, Michelle is a roving ambassador for all things science, appearing regularly in both mainstream and social media in New Zealand, organising science events for school children and setting up a charity to teach children from low-decile schools about robotics, 3D printing and coding.

Michelle says: “My hope is to be able to help anyone, young or old, learn that science is not only fun, it’s a vital part of everyday life, whether we’re choosing the best sunscreen to use or helping our children decide on a future career.”

Michelle is keen to see more young women go on to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at tertiary level.

This year she held a ‘100 days of science’ project for school children after being told by a 14-year-old girl, ‘I hate science’.”

“I decided to set up the ‘100 days’ project then and there because we are losing girls from the STEM subjects in high school yet industry is crying out for highly qualified women in the tech sector,” Dr Dickinson says.

Dr Dickinson obtained her PhD from Rutgers University (USA) and her MEng from University of Manchester (UK) in Biomedical Materials Engineering.

Her research involves measuring the mechanical properties of materials from the nanoscale through to the macro scale and she has a special interest in biological material behaviour.

Excellent achievements by Michelle. If you want to keep up-to-date with Michelle’s work, you can follow her on Twitter at @medickinson (‘Nanogirl’).

Thanks for reading today’s blog.

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Have you won an award in 2014? Tell us your story.

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