Engineering excellence on show at industry awards

UOW engineers have scooped the prize pool at the nation’s top industry awards for refrigeration, air conditioning and heating professionals.

The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) presented Dr Massimo Fiorentini and PhD student Clayton McDowell, both from the University of Wollongong (UOW) Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC), with accolades for their leadership and innovation.

The AIRAH Awards are among the most highly sought after in the building services industry, celebrating the industry’s exemplar projects, high achievers and ground-breaking research.

The 11 award categories consider projects and people, including students and researchers who are making significant contributions across the country to the challenge of a more sustainable built environment.

Dr Massimo Fiorentini (pictured above left) received the Future Leader award for his work in improving technologies and systems that includes energy efficiency, thermal comfort and building management systems that intelligently monitor and regulate energy production and consumption.

He joined SBRC in 2011 and is now the leader of SBRC’s Control Systems and Energy Management Research Group.

He made a major contribution to the development of the award-winning control systems for the Illawarra Flame house, designed and built for entry into the Solar Decathlon China 2013 where Team UOW went on to win ahead of 19 other university teams from around the world.

The house included an advanced residential building management system that enhances how the house harvests the sun’s solar energy, as well as managing consumption, ultimately demonstrating a cost-effective retrofit solution for existing residential buildings.

Clayton McDowellSBRC PhD student Clayton McDowell was awarded Student of the Year, Higher Education or Research by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH).

PhD Student Clayton McDowell was awarded Student of the Year (Higher Education or Research), recognising his research into the challenging and important research on the thermal performance and energy efficiency of residential buildings for the elderly and low-income households.

His work has already created new insights and directions for more research that will help solve the dilemma of providing quality and comfort housing environments for some of society’s most vulnerable people.

He is currently a project manager with Team UOW’s second entry into the Solar Decathlon – the Desert Rose house.

The student-designed and built house is on show at the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2018, following two years preparation and two weeks to build on-site in Dubai.

In addition to meeting the requirements for comfort and sustainability, the team has also set itself the task of designing and building a house that caters for the needs of an ageing population, including supporting people living with dementia and other age-related disabilities.

Mr McDowell’s role as project manager has meant long days and nights doing all manner of work, from design calculations to engagement with key sponsors, and almost everything in between.

SBRC Director Professor Paul Cooper said both recipients had benefitted greatly from the hands-on challenge of participating in the Solar Decathlon competitions and were wonderful ambassadors for the University on the global stage.

“While Massimo and Clayton are in the early stages of their careers, these awards show that they are already recognised as leaders in their fields of expertise and have inspired countless numbers of people in industry and the wider community.

"Like all our Solar Decathlon students, they have undergone some of the toughest training you could possibly imagine, with long hours of study, design, construction and operation of their houses - all in a highly competitive but collaborative environment with some of the best and brightest students in the world.

"The results speak for themselves where industry and the community have come to recognise all our Team UOW students as exceptionally talented, hardworking and inspirational people.”


  • Dr Massimo Fiorentini receives AIRAH award for leadership