Adventurous renewable energy engineering graduate Chris McGrath has won recognition for his work to bring electric power to the people of a remote Pacific island village.

The 24-year-old, who graduated from UNSW's School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering in 2009 with First Class Honours, has been named the Student Engineer of the Year by the Sydney Division of Australia's peak engineering body, Engineers Australia (EA).

His award was part of a double win for UNSW energy pioneers: Scientia Professor Stuart Wenham, the Director of the ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence, was named Professional Engineer of the Year by the Sydney Division at EA's recent Engineering Excellence Awards.

Chris based his thesis on his work installing a micro-scale hydro-electric power system in the remote village of Imaki, on Tanna Island in Vanuatu. Driven by the village's existing water supply, the hydro-power system is providing reliable power for the village school, giving teachers and students better access to computers, projectors and lighting, as well as services such as refrigeration and mobile phone charging.

Chris is now working as a development manager on large-scale wind and solar energy projects for Infigen Energy and is continuing his involvement in the Imaki project, working with another UNSW undergraduate student, Eden Tehan.

Professor Wenham and Chris will represent NSW at the Engineers Australia national awards in November.

Related links: - School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering- ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence

Media Contact: Peter Trute | 02 9385 1933 |