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Engineering Excellence Celebrated at Sally Chapman Memorial Dinner


Due to COVID-19, we couldn’t publicly celebrate the award winners for their recognition by Engineers Australia in 2021. Earlier this year, the Sally Chapman Memorial Dinner was able to be held at Fort Scratchley Function Centre in Newcastle, NSW. Sally Chapman was a much-respected Executive Director of Engineers Australia – Newcastle Division. After nearly 27 years, she became the longest-serving staff member in the history of the organisation. After Sally sadly passed away in 2009, the Sally Chapman Memorial Dinner has been a way to remember her enormous contribution and used as an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of engineers within the Newcastle region. 

The dinner—which had been postponed numerous times—finally went ahead on Friday 8 April 2022 and we were able to celebrate Ampcontrol engineer Dr Ian Webster for his two awards. He was named the winner of the esteemed M A Sargent Medal and the 2021 Professional Engineer of the Year, Newcastle Division. We were also able to celebrate Ampcontrol engineers Richard Griffiths (Finalist 2021 Professional Engineer of the Year Award, Newcastle Division) and Thomas Steigler (2021 Young Professional Engineer of the Year Award, Newcastle Division). Ian is Group Engineering Manager at Ampcontrol, and Adjunct Professor of Practice in the College of Engineering, Science and Environment at the University of Newcastle. Ian’s background in engineering is both extensive and impressive, having enjoyed professional careers in both academia and in industry. As subject matter expert in numerous technical fields of electrical engineering, Ian has written over 30 invited and peer reviewed technical papers and conference presentations in the past five years alone. ‘These awards recognise Ian’s contribution to engineering across academia, regulatory bodies and industry for many years, where he made a noticeable impact. He has been a strong influence on many young engineers who are shaping the Newcastle region today. This is a well-deserved acknowledgement of Ian’s lifelong engagement and commitment to engineering,’ says Pierre Gouhier, Engineers Australia Newcastle President and General Manager – ResTech.

ICU Emergency Ventilator

Since joining Ampcontrol in 2006, Ian has led a number of high-profile industrial projects, most recently the development of an ICU Emergency Ventilator. When the NSW Government issued a “call to arms” in March 2020 to develop a low cost, lifesaving emergency ventilator as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding, Ian stepped in. He assembled an impressive team of engineers, biomedical and clinical specialists from Hunter New England Health, the University of Newcastle, and Ampcontrol—as well as Hunter-based Safearth and Newie Ventures. None of the people assembled specialised in medical equipment. Ian quickly identified there were strong parallels between the heavily regulated mining sector where safety critical equipment design and controls are the norm with the medical sector. What ensued was an astonishing effort by 20 engineers, support staff and trades people in parallel, all galvanised by a single heath crisis to successfully demonstrate a working ventilator at the John Hunter Hospital in just 18 days. Ampcontrol was subsequently awarded a contract for design and supply of mid acuity ventilators for the NSW government. While the skillsets, manufacturing capability and tenacity to produce an emergency ventilator already existed within the Newcastle manufacturing sector, it was nothing other than the leadership shown by Ian Webster that achieved what can only be described as an incredible result. This is just one example of Ian’s many engineering efforts.

Dr Ian Webster on winning the awards

The M. A. Sargent Medal is awarded by Engineers Australia for longstanding eminence in science or the practice of electrical engineering. Dr Ian Webster, Ampcontrol Group Engineering Manager said on winning the M A Sargent Medal: ‘I am humbled to be recognised by the M A Sargent Medal. The list of previous winners is inspiring, and to be recognised amongst them is a privilege and an honour. I am no more than the product of the opportunities that others have afforded me, and to them I offer my deepest gratitude.’ Dr Ian Webster, Ampcontrol Group Engineering Manager said on being named 2021 Professional Engineer of the Year, Newcastle Division: ‘Engineering is necessarily a collaborative effort and its outcomes a collective achievement. Above all, this award recognises all of those knowledgeable, dedicated and inspirational professionals with whom I have been fortunate to work alongside.’

A chance to celebrate

Dr Ian Webster is greatly valued and admired for his innovation in the electrical engineering sector and we look forward to seeing his further development in advancing Ampcontrol’s emerging technologies into the future. The night was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Ian, Richard and Thomas, at both Ampcontrol and within the engineering industry. Pictured L-R: Thomas Steigler - Research Engineer, Paul Reynolds – General Manager – Technology (accepting award on behalf of Richard Griffiths - Senior R&D Engineer), Dr Ian Webster – Group Engineering Manager, Pierre Gouhier - Engineers Australia Newcastle President and General Manager – ResTech, and Rod Henderson – Managing Director & CEO.

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