UniSA Professor Wins Engineering Award

UniSA Professor Alex Grant has won the IREE Neville Thiele Award 2008 from Engineers Australia.

Professor Grant, who is Director of UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research based at Mawson Lakes, was presented with the award in Adelaide last night during an Engineers Australia (South Australia division) event.

The IREE Neville Thiele Award is named in honour of Neville Thiele OAM, an outstanding Australian electronics engineer and world-renowned expert on audio engineering standards and the design of loudspeakers. The award also recognises the Institution of Radio and Electronic Engineers (IREE) which represented the profession of radio and electronic engineering in Australia until the Information, Technology and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) College was formed in 2001. The Neville Thiele Award is the College’s most prestigious award.

Professor Grant, 38, said he was honoured to receive the award.

“It is a deep honour to be recognised in this way, by Australia’s peak body for engineering,” he said.

Professor Grant was the youngest professorial appointment ever made at UniSA in 2004, when he was aged 32.

The judging panel said Professor Grant’s work closely emulated that of Neville Thiele in achieving a “highly impressive blend of theoretical and practical design development”.

“The panel agrees that Professor Grant’s work will have long-term benefits to society, not only in wireless communications but for other communication technologies that have the electromagnetic spectrum as the fundamental element in their operation,” they said.

Professor Grant graduated in electronic engineering and his PhD research was titled “Multiple User Information Theory and Coding (1996). His continuing research is showing the way to cheaper, faster and more reliable wireless communications. He has made important contributions to the mathematical theory of information transmission in wireless digital networks, discovering new ways of transmitting and receiving information that are less susceptible to interference, and that offer greatly increased data rates.

Building on a strong theoretical base, Professor Grant has linked theory to practice in making significant contributions to the engineering design and analysis of practical methods for improving the performance, reliability and speed of wireless communications. He is a cofounder of Cohda Wireless, an Adelaide-based company formed to provide robust vehicular communications. This constitutes an example of an important application to improve safety and save lives lost in traffic accidents, the reduction of the economic impact of traffic accidents and congestion, and the reduction of the environmental impact of congestion.

In addition to his research and application to practice, Professor Grant is a member of the Board of Governors, IEEE Information Theory Society, and is a major contributor to the IEEE Information Theory Society in Australia. He is also an Associate Editor of IEEE publication and the presenter of many seminars and workshops. 

As South Australian Ambassador for the Tall Poppy Campaign, Professor Grant is actively promoting science and technology careers to school students and their teachers. Through both this program, and the South Australia Great Speakers in Schools program, Professor Grant has visited many high schools and primary schools to give presentations relating to the role of mathematics in information technology, and the pathways to careers in this area.