Awards Overview

The history and structure of Engineers Australia’s awards.

General information and history

Our Honours and Awards Program identifies, recognises and rewards:

  • outstanding achievement in engineering
  • conspicuous service to the engineering profession
  • eminence in engineering or an applied science
  • conspicuous service to the Australian people
  • outstanding achievement

The program also promotes engineering and the value it adds to the health, wealth and wellbeing of all Australians.

As a member, volunteer office-bearer or staff member of Engineers Australia, you can help to promote the valuable contribution engineering makes to the community, by getting involved in our Honours and Awards Program.



Since Engineers Australia was founded in 1919, we have been conferring awards. This role was enshrined in our Royal Charter, granted in 1938. It requires us to:

… improve and elevate the general and technical knowledge of persons engaged or intending to engage in the profession of engineering … by means including … to donate on such terms and conditions as may from time to time be prescribed prizes or other awards …

  • Awards were funded by the founding societies. Later, both the Board (then Council) and the various divisions used private bequests (often quite small in value) to create annual prizes. These were generally awarded for outstanding technical papers.

  • Prizes open to all members of Engineers Australia became known as “Open Prizes” and were the major awards.

  • Prizes available only to members of certain grades or certain divisions were known as “Restricted Prizes”.

  • Some prizes were named in honour of engineers who had made notable contributions to the profession, while others were named after the donor of the bequest or a close relative of the donor.


In 1950, the Board created Engineers Australia’s General Prize Fund. It released a statement that said due to inflation, the cash premiums that had accompanied most of the original prizes had lost their value, and that it needed access to general funds of Engineers Australia.

When this support failed to materialise, and donors said they wanted to create funds for new prizes with names and conditions of their own choosing, a General Prize Fund was created.

Engineers Australia provided funds, and any bequests and gifts received for prizes also went into this general account. The Fund also allowed for any new prizes that may be needed, and supplemented the value of existing ones.

The Board also said in its statement that in future, it wouldn’t, as a general rule, accept gifts or bequests for new prizes, if there were conditions regarding the name, nature or rules of the prize, or if the funds couldn’t be paid into the General Prize Fund.

After 1950

After 1950, the Board progressively created Open Prizes in those disciplines that had not had them.

Until 1975, these new prizes were created mainly within divisions, and principally awarded to students at tertiary institutions.

Choosing winners

Until 1974, the guidelines for choosing winners of Board prizes were prepared by a standing committee. Even though the committee had access to a large panel of adjudicators, this was a major annual undertaking.
In 1975, the responsibility for selecting winners of Open Prizes was transferred to college boards.
In 1976 and 1977, the Board of Engineers Australia extensively reviewed awards and prizes, and formalised them. Some were discontinued, a degree of uniformity was introduced, and Engineers Australia’s policies on awards were consolidated.

These policies were designed to control new awards being created, raise their status, generate wider interest and gain greater recognition of the efforts of award winners.
It was decided more medals would be issued and cash premiums scrapped on all awards except those to graduate and student members, and to students at tertiary education providers. The term “prize” was replaced with “award”.

In December 1985, the Board decided the handbook would be given the status of “rules” rather than that of “guidance”. Even so, it is still necessary to get approval from the Board for subsequent amendments.