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Top academic prize marks start of internatl career

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Top academic prize marks start of international career

MIT student caps studies with prestigious award

Flying across the world to attend his graduation ceremony at Manukau Institute of Technology was certainly worthwhile for Clinton Johnson.

The former Papatoetoe resident had been in South Africa setting up a branch of a local medical instruments firm, but decided to return to New Zealand to receive his First Class Honours, Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical & Computer Engineering) degree at MIT’s graduation ceremony on 16 May.

What Clinton did not know was that he would also take home the prestigious Jack MacDonald Academic Prize for the top academic graduate from a degree programme.

“It was a fantastic surprise. It is a good thing I came back for the graduation,” says Clinton.

While Clinton may only just have graduated, his four-and-a-half years of study have already helped him launch an international career.

He is setting up a South African branch of Brainz Instruments, a Mount Wellington-based manufacturer of neonatal brain monitors for the detection of brain injury.

“I started working at Brainz as the practical experience portion of my degree in my third year. I then worked there part-time while studying full time and as soon as I finished my degree they offered me a full-time position.”

MIT established the Jack MacDonald Academic Prize to mark the retirement of chief executive Dr Jack MacDonald in 2004. It was Dr MacDonald’s wish that an award be created for the top academic graduate from a degree programme.

The prize celebrates excellence in academic achievement, says executive director of external relations and student affairs at MIT Dr Stuart Middleton.

“The Jack MacDonald Academic prize is an important recognition of our top students in degree programmes. The recipient will certainly have achieved to the highest academic standards."

Bachelor of Engineering Technology graduate Mark Schatzdorfer became the inaugural recipient of the prize in 2005.

Clinton was among more than 360 graduates who received Level 7 diplomas, degrees and post-graduate qualifications at MIT’s graduation ceremony, which was held at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau City on May 16.


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