Trailblazing engineer scoops international accolade from prestigious institution

Jean Armstrong
Jean Armstrong

A leading telecommunications researcher from Monash University has received a prestigious award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Professor Jean Armstrong has been awarded the Mountbatten Medal for her outstanding contribution, over a sustained period, to the promotion of electronics and their application. Professor Armstrong is a leading researcher in optical and wireless telecommunications at Monash whose high impact research  continues to deliver real-world outcomes

Chairman of the Institution of Engineering and Technology Awards and Prizes Committee, Dr Timothy Constandinou, said Professor Armstrong’s research was extremely influential and had led to many highly cited papers and commercialised patents.

“As an educator, she has been an innovative adopter of new technologies and has led major curriculum reforms at three universities. She has worked to encourage young women and remove the barriers that she herself encountered; her research and contributions to women in engineering have led to both  national and international awards,” Dr Constandinou said.

Professor Armstrong leads the optical/wireless research group at Monash, where her current Australian Research Council-funded projects include research on visible light positioning, which will underpin the development of an indoor version of a Global Positioning System (GPS); and short-range optical  communication using imaging receivers which offer virtually unlimited wireless bandwidth.

Professor Armstrong said it was important to see more women recognised for their outstanding contribution in the field of engineering.

“I hope that receiving this award helps to change some of the stereotypes about women in engineering. Women have just as much potential to be top inventors and researchers as men, so it’s important that the right systems are in place to support women entering and continuing in the profession.”

When Professor Armstrong began her career, very few women were working as engineers, and when she was appointed as a lecturer she was the only woman at that level in a university engineering department in Australia. She has been both a pioneer in the field and a strong supporter of other women in engineering.  Recognition of her contribution includes induction into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women and an Institution of Engineers Australia Engineering 2000 award.

She is the second woman to win the Mountbatten Medal since it was founded in 1982. Last year’s winner was Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology Achievement Awards, which recognise some of the world’s top engineering talent, acknowledge individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the advancement of science, engineering and technology in any sector, either through research and development  in their respective technical field or through their leadership of an enterprise.

Professor Armstrong will travel to London to collect her award at a prestigious awards ceremony in November.