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Sam Heath - ACS WA 1962 Prize Winner

Sam graduated with First Class Honours in Computer Science and Software Engineering from UWA with excellent results. He is passionate about electronics with an interest in wireless networking protocols and he is especially excited about the Internet of Things (IoT).

His Honours thesis proposed an adaptive algorithm for selecting optimal parameters for implementing low power wide area networks. With the ability to cover large areas, these networks lend themselves to challenging remote environments such as in farming, where performing maintenance on a network is costly and time-consuming. Sam examined whether an adaptive protocol may be able to take advantage of changes in the local environment thereby lowering the transmitter’s energy consumption without sacrificing data throughput. This would in effect reduce the regularity of maintenance making these sensor networks more cost-effective and scalable.

From his review of the literature and using the LoRa technology for his research, he was able to confirm the uniqueness of an adaptive energy-conscious protocol for these remote sensor networks. It was also clear from existing adaptive low energy protocols that innovation such as the development of a similar protocol for LoRa could greatly reduce energy consumption leading to improved cost-effectiveness and scalability of these remote long-range sensor networks.

The judges were impressed that he co-founded the UWA Aerospace team and led the team through the inaugural Australian Universities Rocketry Competition (2018-2019). The ‘client’ in this project was the Australian Youth Aerospace Association which set the overarching requirement that every rocket in their category must carry a 4kg payload to about 10,000 feet.

Overall, the UWA Aerospace team placed 5th in the 10,000 foot category and reached 9,314 feet, achieving the second closest approach to the target altitude at a cost that was a fraction of other solutions.

Sam also initiated an outreach program at UWA to promote STEM careers to local WA students and he prototyped a system for the UWA Volunteering Department to allow students to log volunteering hours online.

Sam’s experience working with the UWA Aerospace team has allowed him to develop interpersonal, leadership, and communication skills, whilst designing and building the team’s flight computer has enabled him to develop technical skills such as soldering, electrical design and embedded software development.

Sam joined BHP as a software developer while still studying where he became a long-standing member and added to his professionalism. He stayed after graduation, where he was promoted to Solution Engineer/Architect. He then joined FTP Technology as a software developer where he is working on a software platform for visualizing and managing IoT sensor networks. In this role he is able to bring together his studies, passions and extracurricular experiences.