The University of Newcastle, Australia

COVID-19 face shield team wins AFR Higher Education Award

Friday, 20 November 2020

The University of Newcastle‘s ‘COVID-19 equipment shortage’ team has won a national higher education award for its remarkable contribution to the Australian community.

Dr Adam Fahy

Winning the Industry Engagement category of the 2020 Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards, the team was recognised for its response to the pandemic with its program that delivered COVID-19 face shields to staff at Newcastle hospitals.

The multi-disciplinary working group with representatives from the Faculty of Science, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment and Faculty of Health and Medicine developed a smart, rapid response to produce desperately needed medical equipment.

A product of physicists, engineers, designers and health workers working together, the face shields are made from a piece of PET plastic held in place by an elastic headband. Two hundred shields were delivered to frontline staff in 10 days, a result of the innovative design.

This year 23 universities or higher education providers were shortlisted from a record 156 award submissions. The COVID-19 pandemic dominated many categories, demonstrating that in this extraordinarily challenging year for the higher education sector, Australian institutions have shown tremendous resilience in pursuing their educational objectives.

The University of Newcastle topped the AFR Higher Education Awards 2020 shortlist with four nominations across four categories.

The University was shortlisted for the following projects:

  • Community Engagement: Flu tracking - Crowd sourced public health surveillance system
  • Education Technology: Angry Stan - Conflict resolution training for nurses via virtual reality
  • Industry Engagement: COVID-19 face shields production - Rapid response to produce desperately needed medical equipment
  • International Education: Connect 88 - Internship opportunities for Chinese students with local businesses

The AFR Higher Education Awards report highlighted the outstanding achievements of the individual finalists and winners in all nine award categories. The AFR said the nominations and the short-listed institutions for the 2020 Awards reflected their strength and fighting spirit.


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