Infrastructure projects were the big winners at the 2013 Australian Engineering Excellence Awards announced in Canberra last night.

The top award, the Sir William Hudson Award Winner, went to the Arup and Parsons Brinckerhoff team behind the $5.6 billion Airport Link Northern Busway and Airport Roundabout Upgrade.

Connecting Brisbane’s CBD to Brisbane Airport, the project uses 15 kilometres of tunnel, 25 bridges, as well as a number of off-ramps and specially designed bus-tunnels to provide vital transport solutions to cater to Brisbane’s high traffic demands.

Airport Link Northern Busway and Airport Roundabout Upgrade

Airport Link Northern Busway and Airport Roundabout Upgrade

“The Airport Link upgrade highlights the important contribution made by engineering professionals to the development of long-term sustainable transport systems, which opens up future economic development,” said Ian Pedersen, Chair of the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards National Judging Panel for Engineers Australia.

The judges were particularly impressed by the complexity of the project and its exceptional design in challenging geological environments. The project involves multifaceted interfaces of road geometry within the tunnel and its surrounds.

A combination of innovative engineering and construction methods helped Aurecon and Queensland Sugar Ltd scoop one of the six other Excellence Awards handed out.

In the wake of Cyclone Yasi damage assessment and recovery design was critical for the Lucinda Bulk Sugar Terminal (LBST) offshore facilities. Engineers had to work mindfully around the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area where the facility is located to re-establish the works. This project demonstrated excellent management of workplace safety and environmental compliance, and managed to successfully restore the LBST offshore facilities to full operation by the 2012 sugar season.

Lucinda Bulk Sugar Terminal Cyclone Yasi Recovery

Lucinda Bulk Sugar Terminal Cyclone Yasi Recovery

Another infrastructure project, the Hunter Expressway Stage 2 – Through the Sugarloaf Range, entered by the Hunter Expressway Alliance, (Thiess, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Hyder Consulting, New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services), was also recognized for its outstanding design and construction solutions.

The project involved engineers applying five different forms of bridge construction to meet significant site constraints in steep rugged terrain, coupled with the need to work in a mine substance and earthquake-prone area. The project boasts extraordinary use of various engineering technologies, directional drilling and digital mapping to produce a vital piece of infrastructure in a challenging environment.

Hunter Expressway Stage 2

Hunter Expressway Stage 2

Other winners included the Australian Royal Mint, who engineered the world’s first coloured, curved coin.  The judges were impressed with the modifications in manufacturing equipment and safety in production that were paramount for the production of the coin.

Meanwhile, the Wideband Multibeam Phased Array Feed Receiver for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder project, entered by the CSIRO, won an award for its radio astronomy receiving system, which is twenty times faster than existing rivals. It is a part of the Australian Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Pathfinder telescope, the biggest multinational project in radio-astronomy world-wide.

The Rock Bolting Rig entered by Robert Elks & Associates, SapuraClough Offshore and Phillips Engineering, won an award for its innovative solution to securing underwater pipelines to seabeds using a remotely operated subsea vehicle.

The judges commented: “This project shows leadership in safety-design and environment welfare to secure underwater pipelines. The potential economic opportunity in implementing this Australian technology worldwide is significant.”

The final Excellence Award went to the revolutionary ClearSky technology project by the CSIRO and Catapult Sports, which uses ground-breaking wireless technology to track athletic performance.

Beyond athletics the technology will further provide significant benefits to emergency management and fire rescue operations, as well as the mining industry and armed forces. Its novel signal processing enables a high resistance to the signal deprivation caused by reflections in complex indoor radio environments.

The Engineering Innovation Award went to Ampcontrol and ResTech, who have developed a safety solution which helps protect workers in underground mining situations from electrical earth leakages that can occur as a result of different types of equipment used.

Their innovation, together with extensive research, addresses significant safety problems in the mining industry. The project, which has already received world-wide acclaim, demonstrates that engineering professionals have the skills to apply innovative safety solutions to protect workers in the community.

Finally, the Computer Aided River Management (CARM) project, entered by the State Water Corporation together with Water for Rivers, has received the 2013 Environmental Engineering Excellence Award.

This project monitors the Murrumbidgee River using complex computer modelling technology and water management techniques to prioritise water delivery to agriculture, farming, and environmental flows at times when they are most needed, providing significant economic and environmental benefits for the local communities

Pedersen lauded the award-winners as demonstrating the world-class innovation and capabilities of Australia’s engineering sector.

“The Australian Engineering Excellence Awards celebrate the accomplishments of some of the finest engineering companies and individuals in the world. The winners show world-class expertise and innovation in developing and implementing engineering solutions,” said Pedersen