Peter Nicol Russell Career Achievement Memorial Medal

The most distinguished award granted by Engineers Australia.


Nominations for 2018 are now closed


2017 Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal Recipient

Professor Mary O’Kane AC HonFIEAust CPEng

Prof Mary O'Kane

Professor Mary O’Kane is the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and also a company director and Executive Chairman of O’Kane Associates, a Sydney-based consulting practice specialising in major reviews.

Her research was in the field of continuous speech recognition and she is a leading figure in Australian Artificial Intelligence, ICT and Engineering more generally. Her work has been recognised by various awards including the ATERB Medal in 1990, the Centenary Medal in 2001, the Pearcey Medal for Lifetime Achievement in ICT in 2014, the inaugural Ada Lovelace Medal for an Outstanding Woman Engineer in 2016 and the Erna Hamburger Prize in 2017.

Professor O’Kane was Australia’s first female Engineering Dean, appointed in 1988 at the University of Canberra. She was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) (1994-6) and then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Adelaide (1996-2001). In this period she was also the inaugural Chair of the Group of Eight. She is a former Chair of the board of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy and the Board of the Development Gateway, a former member of the Commonwealth’s Review of the National Innovation System, Australian Research Council and the Co-operative Research Centres (CRC) Committee, the board of FH Faulding & Co Ltd and the board of CSIRO. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia.

As NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer she provides the Government with advice on policy matters requiring research, science and engineering input. In September 2014, after extensive investigation and with intense public interest, she published her final report for the Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in New South Wales, an influential baseline for future government policy decision-making involving engineering and science.

In 2016 Professor O’Kane was made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for ‘eminent service to science and engineering, as a contributor to national policy development and governance, to the promotion of technology research and future energy supply, to higher education, and as a role model for young scientists’.

About the medal

The Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal - Career Achievement Award in Engineering is the most prestigious award conferred by Engineers Australia. It is presented annually to an Honorary Fellow of Engineers Australia who has made a notable contribution to the science and/or practice of engineering in Australia.

The award perpetuates the memory of Sir Peter Nicol Russell, a Sydney industrialist during the latter half of the 19th century, who made major donations to the cause of engineering in Australia.


Recipients of the PNR Memorial Medal represent to both the engineering profession and the community the highest technical, professional and community service standards of the profession of engineering.

In light of this, the term 'notable contribution' to the science and/or practice of engineering needs to be interpreted broadly, rather than as a narrow reflection of achievements only. This ensures the award truly reflects the broad nature and impacts of the profession of engineering within the general community.

Nomination criteria for the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal

Only Honorary Fellows of Engineers Australia are eligible to be nominated. Incoming, current and immediate past national or divisional office-bearers do not automatically join the PNR register.

An Honorary Fellow is not eligible to be entered into the PNR Register in the year they are awarded Honorary Fellow.

Nominations for the PNR Medal must also contain a supplementary 200 word citation on the nominee and their career achievements.

The criteria for this award:

  • Contribution to community welfare
  • Contribution to the profession
  • Technical and/or business expertise

As further expressed by contribution to:

  • the community's welfare through engineering works
  • the knowledge-base of the profession through research and development activities
  • education through teaching and/or education support
  • the community outside of engineering practice
  • the profession through professional society activities
  • the profession through leadership and management

NOTE: Nominees do not need to meet every area of the above criteria, however these are provided as a guide for nominators, who will be asked to address the sub-set areas where relevant to the nominee and their career.

Click here to download a copy of the criteria

Click here to download a copy of the terms and conditions

Citation requirements for the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal nominations

In addition to addressing the criteria, nominators for this award will be asked to write a 200 word citation on the nominee they propose for consideration for the PNR Medal.

The additional citation must demonstrate the nominee’s distinction and pre-eminence in the field, capture their entire body of work within the profession, as well outline notable/long term achievements.

In the 200 word citation, nominators will be asked to demonstrate the nominee's:

  • technical expertise extending to business, research and/or education
  • strong leadership in the field
  • world expertise
  • currency
  • entire body of work and the way in which it is a notable contribution that has impacted the profession/community.

Rules for applying for the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal

  1. The PNR Memorial Medal will be awarded annually.
  2. Only Honorary Fellows of Engineers Australia will be eligible for nomination. Incoming, current and immediate past national or divisional office-bearers do not automatically join the Register.
  3. Any nomination for the PNR Memorial Medal must be accompanied by a statement (200 word citation) of the nominee's notable contributions and achievements.
  4. At 31 July of each year, the H&A Committee will consider new nominations, add those suitable to the Register and review the nominations already recorded on the Register, in order to recommend three names to the Board for consideration at the next scheduled Board meeting.
  5. Cognisant of any advice from the H&A Committee, the Board will select an annual PNR Medal recipient.
  6. Nominations for this award may be made by;
    - Any three members of National Congress
    - A National Congress Board
    - A Division Committee, College Board or Society Board
    - Any five Corporate Members of the Institution of Engineers Australia
    - The National President
  7. The Chief Executive shall ensure that the Register of nominees for the award is maintained for a period of three years and kept confidential, accessed only by the National H&A Committee, Chief Executive and Secretary to the H&A Committee.
  8. At the conclusion of three years, names will be removed from the Register if not selected as the PNR Medal recipient.
  9. Contact details of the nominator will be kept on file for the three year period. Nominators will be notified of a nominee’s expiry from the Register and invited to renominate.
  10. No feedback will be given to nominators as to whether the nominee was added to the Register.
  11. The National President or representative will contact the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal winner to advise of their selection and inform them that a formal invitation will be extended to receive the award. The presentation, by the National President, might be on the occasion of the Annual General Meeting of Engineers Australia, or on another occasion deemed suitable by the Honours and Awards Committee or the National President.
  12. The award consists of a framed certificate and medal prescribed by the Board.

Medal Recipients

First Name Surname Year Awarded
Richard Albert Kell 2016
Hon Sir Eric Neal 2015
Dr Maxwell Gordon Lay 2014
Mr Barry Grear 2013
Mr John Michael Grill 2012
Prof Andrew Richard Downing 2011
Mr Allan William Roberts 2010
Prof Michael Bruce Dureau 2009
Mr Martin Hallowell Thomas 2008
Mrs Else Egede Shepherd 2007
Dr Peter Farrell 2006
Prof Graeme Jameson 2005
Mr John Laurie 2004
Dr Arthur Bishop 2003
Dr Kenneth Michael 2002
Mr Wallace Macarthur King 2001
Dr Tom Connor 2000
Mr Donald George Fry 1999
Dr John Nutt 1998
Dr Peter Owen Miller 1997
Mr Andrew Bruce Sinclair 1996
Prof Jorg Imberger 1995
Dr Robert Culver 1994
Mr William Harold Clough 1993
Dr Michael Anthony Sargent 1992
Prof Rolf G.H. Prince 1991
Mr Donald James Little 1990
Dr Charles Harold Warman 1989
Em Prof Peter Thomas Fink 1988
Prof John Douglas Correll Crisp 1987
Em Prof Lance Aubrey Endersbee 1986
Sir Alfred William Tyree 1985
Mr Douglas Gordon Price 1984
Prof Kenneth Henderson Hunt 1983
Mr Donald Hector Aitken 1982
Dr William Piper Brown 1981
Mr Roger Neill Morse 1980
Dr Don Watkyn Woods 1979
Sir Charles Newton Barton 1978
Dr David Milton Myers 1977
Sir Louis Matheson 1976
Prof Jack William Roderick 1975
Sir John Clifton Vaughan Holland 1974
Dr Ian Landlands 1973
Mr Bernard James Callinan 1972
Mr Raymond Arthur Priddle 1971
Prof Wilbur Norman Christiansen 1970
Mr Julian Randal Dridan 1969
Sir Willis Henry Connolly 1968
Sir Ian Munro McLennan 1967
Mr Donald Victor Darwin 1966
Mr Thomas Bruce Nicol 1965
Sir Robert Rutherford Blackwood 1964
Mr Allan Walton Knight 1963
Capt George Ian Hutcheson 1962
Sir James Arthur Holt 1961
Sir Albert Edwin Axon 1960
Mr William Rayner Hebblewhite 1959
Sir Walter Eric Bassett 1958
Sir Lewis Ronald East 1957
Sir John Proctor Tivey 1956
Prof Alan Burn 1955
Sir Louis Francis Loder 1954
Radm Alex Broughton Doyle 1953
Sir Russell John Dumas 1952
Mr John Gurner Burnell 1951
Mr William Hogarth Robertson Nimmo 1950
Dr Thomas Havnes Upton 1949
Mr Robert Lawson 1948
Brig James Montagu Christian Corlette 1947
Mr Walter Harold Myers 1946
Sir William Goodman 1945
Sir John Madsen 1944
Mr Edgar Gower Ritchie 1943
Sir John Robert Kemp 1942
Mr Robert James Boyd 1941
Mr Alexander James Gibson 1940
Sir Henry Barraclough 1939
Mr Herbert Reah Harper 1938
Mr Dudley Francis John Harricks 1937
Mr Hugh Rose Forbes Mackay 1936
Mr John Henry Osborn Eaton 1935
Mr Francis William Clements 1934
Mr Maurice Edwin Kernot 1933
Dr John Job Crew Bradfield 1932
Prof Roger William Hercules Hawken 1931
Mr Henry Harvey Dare 1930
Sir John Monash 1929
Sir Robert William Chapman 1928
Sir George Alfred Julius 1927
Mr Orlando William Brain 1926
Mr Richard Ernest Sexton 1925
Mr James Fraser 1924
Prof William Henry Warren 1923


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