How animated moustaches and Australian tree frogs will help change the world

Samuel Kantor has a wicked sense of humour and a passion for helping people with disabilities connect with the world around them.

He’s taken out second place in the engineering category of the prestigious BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards for school students.

While studying an accelerated semester of computer science at the University of NSW, Samuel created a program that uses a webcam to draw moustaches on people’s faces.

Using his new found power for good, he developed Eye Connect to help people with disabilities control their computer.

Samuel said the assistive technology required for people with disabilities to use their computers is extremely specialised and expensive.

“Eye Connect aims to use minimal hardware to create new and innovative solutions to allow people to control their computer with just a standard webcam.”

The winner of the Investigation category of the awards is Tasmanian student Hannah Sutton, who investigated a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s using a peptide, Caerin 1.9 found in the skin glands of the Australian tree frog.

Hannah worked with the Menzies Institute to develop the possible treatment for the disease.

CSIRO Chairman David Thodey said the awards showed the inventiveness and excellence of the future scientific and engineering leaders of Australia.

“We have 26 students who have applied their creativity and skills to solve some real problems for Australia and the world,” he said.

BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie said, “2016 marks the 35th BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards and through the BHP Billiton Foundation we are thrilled to support bright, young future scientists and engineers.

“I’m very proud of what the Awards aim to achieve in encouraging students to explore, research and delight in the study of science, and challenge their understanding of the world around them.”

A full list of winners – including the winner of the award ‘Innovator to Market’ – and videos of all the students and their projects are available on the website.

Since 1981 the BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards have been Australia’s most prestigious school science awards.

The awards reward young people who have undertaken practical research projects which demonstrate innovative approaches and thorough scientific or engineering procedures.

The awards are a partnership between BHP Billiton, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA).

They are sponsored by BHP Billiton Foundation and managed by CSIRO.

For more information on the awards visit BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards.

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