Credit shared on Braille project

A HERO of Australia’s visually impaired was among those honoured last week as Engineers Australia (WA) announced its ‘Heroes’ for 2003.

Recognising outstanding engineering contributions in the broader community, the awards coincided with the launch of Engineering Week.

Andrew Pasquale was jointly awarded the young engineers’ prize for his project, which aims to narrow the communications gap between the blind and visually impaired and those with normal eyesight.

Mr Pasquale’s prototype device allows people to scan Braille and convert it into written or spoken word. The device can also help the visually impaired continue to read Braille should they lose sense of touch in their fingers.

As yet the device is not ready to be marketed, but the task of making it easier to use is now the project of another Curtin student, Debra Duradon.

Although Mr Pasquale’s work has been recognised, he is quick to share the credit.

“It was part of my final-year project. My university supervisor, Iain Murray, works with the Institute of the Blind, and he first recognised the need for it,” he said.

Four prizes were awarded over three categories this year.

Baden Kirk-Burnnand from Apache Energy Ltd took the professional engineer category for his leadership and technical contributions to offshore gas and oil projects, while Murdoch University student Nic Christodoulou was recognised in the student category for his volunteer work with the Foundation Fieldbus organisation.

The corecipient of the young engineers’ prize was Steve Trench of Woodside for his leadership, technical competence and engineering excellence in offshore projects.

Engineering Australia (WA) director Richard Usher said the idea of acknowledging engineering excellence was developed about seven years ago.

The awards recognise specific achievements over the short term, rather than many years of service.

Candidates were nominated either by their peers, supervisors or subordinates and the winners were decided by a board of member affairs.

“The awards are about rewarding excellent service to the profession of engineering or the community,” Mr Usher said.

“The awards tell the human side of engineering. It recognises people who wouldn’t normally be recognised.”

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