Tuesday, 22 May 2018 01:20

Aussie student wins international award for robotic window cleaner

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Oliver Nicholls wins top prize at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Oliver Nicholls wins top prize at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Oliver Nicholls, a 19-year-old high school student from Sydney’s Barker College, has won the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for his design of a robotic window cleaner.

Nicholls received US$75,000 as winner of the Gordon E. Moore Award for his his fully-autonomous robotic window cleaner that is designed to reduce human injury and decrease the costs of window cleaning on medium-rise commercial buildings.

The small robotic device uses drones, motors and propellers to navigate building facades and clean windows using water and micro-fibre scrubbers.

Nicholls is the 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Award winner.

Australian students excelled at the international competition, with five of Australia's 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards finalists securing a total of 11 major award wins against a field of more than 1800 high school students from 75 countries.

CSIRO Education and Outreach director Mary Mulcahy said it was another example of Australia's great science being recognised on the global stage.

"Australia is one of the best places in the world to start a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. By having our high school students winning international awards, we are further strengthening our international reputation as an innovative country," she said.

BHP Billiton Foundation executive director James Ensor said seeing Australian high school students winning at an international level would inspire others to pursue independent research projects.

"Studying STEM topics fosters innovative thinking and problem-solving abilities that will help to address sustainable development challenges," he said.

"We believe that by supporting STEM education and achievement in young people, we are investing in Australia's future problem solvers."

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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