Grant Kirkby is a graduate from the Engineering Institute of Technology. He studied Electrical Engineering through EIT, starting in 2009 and graduating in 2011.
He is now the director of a company that grapples with the most dangerous, most unpredictable forms of electrical current: lightning.
Lightning and High Voltage (HV) electrical discharge events are considered common in engineering industries where outside activities are performed. Those industries include:
- Tented exploration camps
- Exploration drilling
- Pipeline maintenance
- Traffic signal maintenance
- Electrical linseman
- Environmental scientists
- Geologists and surveyors
- Fencing contractors
- Outdoor workers
Kirkby works in Lightning Risk Mitigation, coupled with Occupational Health and Safety. It involves finding a greater understanding and awareness of personal lightning safety risk.
Kirkby owns his own company named ‘Lightningman Pty Ltd’, a company that trades in Lightning and Surge Technologies. They are a specialist distributing wholesaler of Lightning Risk Mitigation products and technologies for higher risk industries.
Since completing his studies, Grant was appointed as the Exclusive Distributor for various Lightning Protection and safety related manufacturers. Kirkby knew the industry lacked a bona fide solution to the risk lightning posed to higher risk operations. He said:
“Since I have completed my studies, I have collaborated with a leading Australian Lightning Researcher to gain a better understanding of lightning risk mechanisms, and the research and development of innovative Lightning Safety controls.”
Through the collaboration, they filed a patent for what Kirkby calls the world’s first portable ‘Earth Potential Rise (EPR) Safety Mat’, for use by higher risk workgroups.
Image: Typical application - Remote Exploration Camp
Operations involving high risk activities in an outdoor setting can utilize Kirkby’s LightningMat to lower the risk of being struck by lightning - the mat lowers the statistical risk of up to 50 to 70 percent.
The invention won the 2016 Industrial Foundation for Accident Prevention Safety Innovation Award. The mat is also cost effective so that industries can make an invaluable, reasonable investment into securing their operations from the weather.
When asked about how his life has changed since he obtained his qualification through the Engineering Institute of Technology, he replied:
“I have a great sense of personal achievement that has since developed into a strong desire to innovate, to make a difference, and to have been seen to have made a difference, personally, professionally, and commercially.”
Kirkby says he is no longer phased by “seemingly insurmountable problems” and tackles engineering conundrums head-on. By no means, however, is Kirkby slowing down, or admitting that there isn’t more to learn about the industry he is so fascinated by. No, Kirkby intends to keep on learning and innovating. He said:
“I am very interested in further Research and Development activities, specifically in product/process development in the area of Lightning Risk Mitigation in higher risk environments. To develop new ideas/concepts that will be the world’s best practice and the technical benchmark that shapes the way higher risk activities deal with Lightning Safety in the workplace.”
Kirkby’s LightningMat is now being exported to four continents ; Africa, Australia, South East Asia and South America.