The University of Newcastle, Australia

It was an early introduction into the field of electrical engineering that kickstarted Thomas’ passion for the industry.

“While everyone else was on holidays after the Year 10 School Certificate, I began work in a school-based traineeship doing electrical maintenance with Coffs Harbour City Council.

“After getting to work with in the field, I knew electrical engineering was the way to go and the University of Newcastle’s renowned engineering faculty made the decision a no-brainer,” said Thomas.

For his Bachelor of Electronic and Electrical Engineering final year project, Thomas combined his knowledge and experience with his passion for creating something that would have a real-world purpose – developing a heart rate monitor for cows.

“Research into animal welfare is a growing field of study. Heightened stress levels in cattle have been linked to an increased risk of disease and death.

“My project involved finding a way to detect and quantify what makes cattle stressed, so that these stressors can be controlled and their impact minimised.

“The heart rate device uses an optical-based sensor which is capable of detecting minuscule fluctuations in light levels when an LED is shone into the animal’s skin and tissue.

“The device then relays this real-time information wirelessly through an app where scientists can collect and analyse the data further,” added Thomas.

With a goal of working on a tangible project, Thomas put his theoretical knowledge into practice – working on circuit design, hardware design and construction, software and coding to bring it to life.

While his invention might seem unique, Thomas hopes that it will motivate scientists to dive further into the welfare of not only cattle, but other animals as well.

“The hope is that my device will enable future studies into better understanding what makes cattle stressed, how this impacts their lives, and what can be done to improve the quality and duration of life for cattle everywhere,” concluded Thomas.

Study Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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Thomas Shilling

With a goal of working on a tangible project, Thomas put his theoretical knowledge into practice.

After getting to work with in the field, I knew electrical engineering was the way to go and the University of Newcastle’s renowned engineering faculty made the decision a no-brainer.