Winners of 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards

BHP awards OH&S robotics BHP Science and Engineering Awards

The BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering award winners have been announced for 2018. Among the top inventions were a window-washing robot, a biochar that filters water and serves as a renenewable fertiliser, and a plastic made from prawn shells.

The awards are a collaboration between the CSIRO, BHP Billiton Foundation and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA). The awards have three categories; Investigations, Engineering, and Innovator to Market. To qualify for the awards, students must first win an ASTA competition, such as the Young Scientist Awards for NSW.

Each category awards a first place winner, who will receive a prize of $4000. These three first place winners, one from each category, will have the chance to later compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in the USA in May.

Here are the first place winners in each category:

Winner for Engineering

The winner of the Engineering category is Oliver Nicholls with his robotic window-washer. Oliver was inspired to create the autonomous robot when his school’s window-washing employee fell and broke his leg.

We were inspired by the way Oliver combined maths, physics and engineering in his creation that has worker safety and accessibility front of mind. We spoke to Oliver to find out more about his process and inspiration. Read more here.

Oliver Nicholls BHP awards OH&S robotics BHP Science and Engineering Awards
minh nga nguyen BHP finalist BHP Science and Engineering Awards

Winner for Investigations

The winner of the Investigations category is Minh Nga Nguyen. She’s the eco-engineer that’s created an entirely sustainable biochar that has world health potential. Minh’s biochar is made from agricultural waste like spent bamboo, corn and rice. It filters majority of pollutants from drinking water, and once it’s used it retains usability as a fertiliser.

We spoke to Minh Nga about her invention, and the amazing potential it has for ensuring safe drinking water in third-world countries. Check it out here.

Winner for Innovator to Market

Angelina Arora has been awarded the Innovator to Market award for her biodegradable plastic made from prawn shells. Angelina’s love of animals and the environment were the inspiration behind her invention, reducing risk of sea life choking or dying due to plastic consumption. This is her second plastic invention that completely degrades leaving no harmful substances behind.

We spoke to Angelina to find out more about the invention she hopes will one day replace harmful commercial plastics. Read more here.

angelina aurora biodegradable plastic BHP Science and Engineering Awards

The full list of winners and nominees: 

Winner: Oliver Nicholls, Barker College, NSW, Autonomous robotic window cleaner
Second: Lachlan Bolton, Redeemer Baptist School, NSW, Future Board
Third: Jack Chapman, St Leonard’s College, VIC, Electroduino-mechanical bionics Hand

Winner: Minh Nga Nguyen, Sydney Girl’s High School, NSW, Recycling waste into biochar: a sustainable agricultural wastewater filter and fertiliser
Second: Caitlin Roberts, The Friends’ School, TAS, The protease inhibiting effect of almonds
Third: Ella Cuthbert, Lyneham High School, ACT, Is honeybee silk antimicrobial?

Innovator to Market 
Winner: Angelina Arora, Sydney Girls High School, NSW, Shrimp shell bioplastics: A new solution to the world’s growing plastic problem

For more information go to

Photos: CSIRO and BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards
Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.


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