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Student engineers win gongs for water technology

Two student engineers have been named winners of a leading science accolade for their research in developing solutions to contaminated water, agricultural impacts and plastic pollution.

The 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards named Minh Nga Nguyen winner of the Investigations category for her development of a biochar product from agricultural scraps capable of filtering water and also creating fertiliser.

Nguyen’s invention won for its use of agricultural byproducts such as bamboo scraps, corn husks and rice waste to create a biochar product to reduce the effects of contaminated water and pollution created by agricultural waste.

Winner of the Innovator to Market award was Angelina Arora, who developed a bioplastic from organic proteins that is completely biodegradable.

Arora’s development won the award for the potential to replace current plastic shopping bags and other packaging to reduce the environmental impact in landfill and in the ocean.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the award winners and finalists’ ideas have the potential to aid Australians transition into a rapidly changing future.

“The world is changing faster than many of us can keep up with, but science, technology, engineering and maths can guide that future through innovation,” he said.

“Around three quarters of all future jobs will need STEM and we’re absolutely committed to helping school students develop these skills so they can shape Australia’s future.

“We know that the achievements of the winners and finalists will inspire other students to become innovators solving the big challenges that face our world.”

BHP Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie said the awards aim to support young engineers and scientists to build careers and promote excellence within Australia’s STEM sectors.

“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,” he said.

“The dedication and passion these students have for STEM is inspiring.”

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