GAWLER was thrust well and truly into the spotlight at the 2017/18 Channel 9 Young Achiever Awards last week, with two former local students each receiving a prestigious accolade.
At the presentation, held on Friday evening, former Gawler & District College student Franke Agenbag and former Trinity College student Jordan Gruber were recognised in their chosen categories.
Jordan, a mechatronics engineer, who no longer lives locally, was named the winner of the overall state Channel 9 Young Achiever of the Year Award, having earlier in the evening been presented the WFI Insurance Small Business Achiever Award.
The 25-year-old was recognised for his knowledge of robotics and artificial intelligence, which has enabled him to build asbestos-monitoring software.
He has raised $400,000 in grants and investments, employed three engineers, has mentored early stage start-up businesses, and has presented at the World Congress on Safety and Health in the Workplace.
Jordan said it was a great way to celebrate several years of hard work, which started as a result of his brother working as an occupational hygienist.
“Part of that work is ensuring asbestos is properly monitored for demolition and construction sites,” he said.
“(It is an) industry with quite old school processes, and so with my background in robotics I understood how technology could be applied to that industry.
“As a result, we now have a robotic microscope system that can turn around results from asbestos air monitoring and (produces an) air filter analysis much more quickly, accurately and at lower cost.
“I have been working for three years on this data, so winning the award was really a culmination of all that hard work.”
Meanwhile, Franke, 18, who studies electrical and mechatronics engineering, was presented The University of Adelaide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Award for her commitment to her community.
Her major focus now is working with the Zonta Club of Gawler to attract women to the fields of STEM.
“When I won, I was seriously in shock,” she laughed.
“It has always been my dream to be in a science engineering-based career and that started this year when I got into engineering and it has all been going really well.
“I know there are some girls who aren’t fortunate to be able to get into STEM-based careers.
“Having this recognition means that, hopefully, I can work closer with my Zonta committee to raise more funds and sponsor more girls to go to school and assist in paying their STEM-related fees.”