Police, science and business leaders awarded

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Police, science and business leaders awarded


Published on 8 September 2015

A police chief superintendent who won a scholarship to Cambridge University, a senior environmental scientist focused on sustainable urban design and a business entrepreneur renowned for his tourism leadership have won the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Outstanding Alumni Awards for 2015.

Debbie Platz, Dr Chris Walker and Bill Darby are Coast-based success stories who each have two degrees from USC and will be recognised at the Outstanding Alumni of the Year Awards on 24 September.

Media are welcome to attend the awards from 6-8pm on Thursday 24 September at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium.

Chief Superintendent Platz, who will be named the Outstanding Alumnus, said she had used her USC Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Graduate Diploma of Education to rise through the ranks of the Queensland Police Service (QPS), launching community policing strategies and researching best practice.

She now works in Brisbane as the executive manager of training and development of the QPS and Public Safety Business Agency, responsible for training about 800 police recruits each year and 15,000 service personnel across the state.

“All of the training and education I did at USC stood me in good stead for a whole range of opportunities I’ve had in policing,” she said. “And if it wasn’t for USC, I wouldn’t have gone to Cambridge last year to study applied criminology.”

Dr Chris Walker graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) and in 2012 with a PhD that focused on urban lake design and stormwater quality modelling. He said he was delighted to be recognised in 2015 with the USC Rising Star Alumnus award.

Dr Walker, who is environmental manager for Covey Associates, an engineering consultancy with national and overseas clients, has worked on commercial, residential and industrial projects across Queensland to reduce the environmental impacts of large urban developments and improve the health of water courses.

Examples are the Parklakes master-planned estate at Bli Bli and a Bribie Island project called Bribie Lakes which is looking at using “floating wetlands” to treat runoff. He is now doing research with BHP into the use of floating wetlands to treat dam tailings, and working on the largest floating wetland research project in the world at Parklakes 2.

Bill Darby, who will receive the Regional Achievement award, graduated with an MBA in 2007 following his 2006 Graduate Certificate in the same field. His involvement in both the University and the Sunshine Coast has been forged in many ways, including current co-ownership and management of Caloundra’s only five-star resort, Rumba.

Rumba Resort, which opened in 2009, now employs 25 people, injects more than $4.5 million annually into the local economy and has won many industry awards.

Mr Darby, who helped pioneer the provision of private student housing adjoining USC in the mid-1990s, has taken leadership roles in both tourism and economic development, with organisations ranging from Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd to the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce.

92.7 Mix FM’s Caroline Hutchinson will MC the awards event, which is free to alumni and guests. For details, email development@usc.edu.au or call 5430 1104.

— Julie Schomberg

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