Materials engineer wins prestigious Batterham Medal

Accomplished materials engineer Professor Nick Birbilis has been honoured with the 2017 Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) Batterham Medal.

Professor Birbilis has achieved more than most do in a lifetime. Throughout his academic and research career, he has pushed the boundaries of engineering innovation to tackle industry and societal challenges.

His breakthrough work over the past five years has culminated in being honoured with the prestigious early career award for an Australian university engineering graduate.

As Chair of the Woodside Innovation Centre based at Monash University and Head of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor Birbilis has stood out as a passionate educator, innovator and industrial advocate.

An expert in corrosion, durability management and metallurgy, he has dedicated himself to creating materials and training engineers to promote a more durable future. Across diverse industries, companies large and small, both here and overseas, have embraced lessons from his work.

Nick’s game-changing breakthroughs in the development of lightweight, stainless (corrosion-resistant) aluminium and magnesium alloys grabbed the attention of the Batterham Medal selection committee.

They realised the potential of such previously unthinkable alloys to revolutionise myriad industries. From portable electronics - like a much lighter laptop, to energy-saving, low-emission lightweight vehicles and structural materials – imagine the economic and environmental benefits of transporting less mass to building sites.

Professor Birbilis views our built environment through a different lens and this outlook clearly drives his accomplishments.

“I know that all the materials I see are made by humans – they’ve come from refining, processing, and effectively cheating nature. Yes, an engineering triumph. But also a constant reminder that we alone are responsible for the materials, and their properties, when we produce everything from toys to aircraft,” Professor Birbilis said.

“It's up to us to make materials that are stronger, more efficient, more durable, and more environmentally friendly.”