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NMI awards mark World Metrology Day 2016

The National Measurement Institute has marked World Metrology Day by recognising the outstanding achievements in metrology of two Australian researchers.

Article date:
20/05/2016 5:00 PM

NMI CEO Dr Peter Fisk said the 2016 recipients of the institute’s annual metrology awards had shown tremendous innovation in their respective fields.

‘The awards acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievement in practical applications of measurement, something which affects our everyday lives,’ Dr Fisk said.

The 2016 Barry Inglis Medal was awarded to Professor Mike McLaughlin, on behalf of a CSIRO team and Ziltek Pty Ltd. They developed and commercialised a rapid, simple and relatively inexpensive method to detect and quantify total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) in soil.

Sites contaminated by TPH, such as old petrol stations, pose a health risk to both humans and animals through soil and groundwater contamination.

Professor McLaughlin and his team developed a portable instrument which reflects an infrared beam off a soil sample to detect and measure TPH directly.

This on-site technique allows industry to measure TPH levels in the field and means fewer samples have to be collected for laboratory analysis thereby saving time and money.

‘The refinement of this technique by CSIRO and its subsequent commercialisation by Ziltek is an excellent example of how small businesses and Australian scientists can work together to address global environmental problems,’ Dr Fisk said.

Dr Suelynn Choy from RMIT University won the 2016 NMI Prize for having demonstrated – in an Australian first – that data generated by local infrastructure and transmitted by a regional satellite navigation system can be used to provide accurate point positioning anywhere outdoors in Australia at any time.

Dr Choy’s research has been demonstrated in precision agriculture where robotic tractors controlled by satellites have been able to track, turn and operate machinery autonomously. Such a capability could ultimately boost the productivity of Australian industries.

This research has the potential to benefit many sectors including agriculture and mining. Indeed, the emerging field of intelligent transport systems is one that will benefit enormously from Dr Choy’s work.

‘Dr Choy’s research is laying the foundations for significant improvements to our current global navigation systems which will in turn benefit many industries such as transportation, emergency services, engineering and mapping,’ Dr Fisk said.

Today’s awards mark World Metrology Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Metre Convention on 20 May, 1875.

The Convention sets the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and its application in industry, science and society.

Media contact: Yen Heng 0418 616 118, yen.heng@measurement.gov.au