17 December 2001

Environmental engineer Leigh Staines gained experience working on offshore oil rigs accessible by helicopter, on her path towards a UQ graduation ceremony today.

Environmental engineer Ms Staines has been selected as valedictorian, to speak on behalf of students at the 6.15pm ceremony, while Information Technology graduand Simeon Cran will be valedictorian at a 4pm ceremony.

About 400 graduands from the Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture Faculty are expected to attend today`s ceremonies at Mayne Hall, University Drive, St Lucia.

Ms Staines, 21, who joins Esso Australia in Melbourne next year working on the technical design of major multi-million dollar projects, received six Deans` Commendations and two awards for being dux of the Environmental Engineering stream during her studies. This month she became one of only two Australian students to win the Environmental Institute of Australia student award. She is the Queensland student representative for the Environmental Engineering Society for 2000 and 2001.

"The secret of success is to find something you love studying, and also to live a well-balanced life," Ms Staines said. "I always tried to avoid studying at weekends to allow time for many social and sporting activities such as touch football, gym, water skiing, surfing, and singing in Pro Musica, an a capella type choir."

Ms Staines said her valedictory speech would remind graduands that professional studies, such as engineering, had distinct social advantages over generalist degrees.

"At UQ there are 10 engineering disciplines, and in my group there were about 60 people who formed strong bonds and networks. I will encourage people to think about that into the future and keep the network going with people who can provide you with advice throughout life," she said. "Many people don`t realise that engineering is a very people-oriented profession with a lot of teamwork involved throughout the degree. When it comes time to enter the workforce, these people skills can be carried with you."

Ms Staines and her civil engineering partner Matthew Smith are both graduating at the 6.15pm ceremony. Contact (07) 3878 2453.

o Dr Vanida Lavantucksin, who has flown from Bangkok to attend the 4pm ceremony, completed an extended cost/benefit analysis of shrimp farming in Thailand for her PhD thesis supervised by UQ`s Professor Tor Hundloe and Professor Geoff McDonald.

Dr Lavantucksin said her research could assist with sustainability planning for the Thai fishery, which exports shrimps (prawns) valued at A$5000 million each year largely to Japan, the United States and the European Union.

Extended cost-benefit analysis is used to capture the socio-economic and environmental repercussions for sustainability and productivity improvements. Dr Lavantucksin, who completed her Bachelor of Economics degree at Thammasat University in Thailand, undertook a Master of Agricultural Economics at the University of New England before attending UQ. She is employed as a policy and planning economist with the National Economic and Social Development Board, a planning agency for the Thai Government. Contact in Brisbane: telephone (07) 3366 1889 and in Bangkok: telephone (662) 613 7235.

o Information technology graduand and valedictorian Simeon Cran was awarded six Deans` Commendations, the Auug (Queensland) Open Systems Prize and the Andersen Consulting Prize in Computer Science, while completing his degree.

o Managing Director of Boeing Australia Limited David Gray will be guest speaker at the 4pm ceremony. Mr Gray was schooled in Zimbabwe. In 1966 he went to the United Kingdom to study electrical engineering at the University of Newcastle on Tyne, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree.

After working in the power electrical engineering field in South Africa, he spent two years on an extensive yachting expedition. He subsequently held a number of senior positions in the power electrical engineering business and in telecommunications, before migrating to Australia in 1984. He became the Chief Executive of GEC Heavy Engineering, and in 1989 moved to Sydney as General Manager of the telecommunications company, Exicorn.

Mr Gray was asked to return to GEC and form GEC Marconi (Australia) following the worldwide acquisition of Plessey. He was Managing Director of that company until August 1995 when he was appointed Managing Director of Boeing Australia Limited (previously Rockwell Australia Limited).

o Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong and chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for CAST Metals Manufacturing Professor Peter Robinson, AM will speak at the 6.15pm ceremony.

Professor Robinson, who chairs the Australian Research Council (ARC) Expert Advisory Committee on Engineering and Environmental Sciences, is a former Deputy Chair of the ARC. A metallurgical and materials engineer, he obtained his doctorate from the University of Wales in the United Kingdom in 1973. Professor Robinson has held research and managerial positions including Director of Invetech Operations Pty Ltd, Group General Manager of Technical, Metal Manufactures, Research Associate in Metallurgy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Senior Research Officer at John Lysaght Ltd. (Newcastle). Professor Peter was also formerly Chief of the CSIRO Division of Manufacturing Technology.

He is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Claude A Stewart Award from the Australian Institute of Metals for significant contributions to the Australian metals industry and the "International Award" from the American Society of Diecasting Engineers. In 1994 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for contributions to research and industry development. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, and also a Fellow of the Institute of Metallurgists, United Kingdom.

o 21-year-old Jason Langenauer who is graduating Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical and Space) had the difficult task of completing his thesis while standing as the Australian Democrats candidate for Ryan in the November 10 Federal election. Mr Langenauer`s thesis used computer modelling for verification of the design of the JAESat (Joint Australian Engineering Satellite) being built at QUT. He has been heavily involved in the UQ Union, working to making it more representative and inclusive as he believes that student unions have an unrealised potential. Last year he was a MINT team candidate for Union Secretary. A recipient of three Dean`s Commendations for High Achievement, next year he plans to take time off from study and politics to travel. Contact 0418 240 380.

Media contact: For further information, contact UQ Graduations Officer Peter Brady (telephone 07 3365 9194) or Jan King at UQ Communications (mobile 0413 601 248).