Bosnian at the forefront of innovation: Meet the Engineer Eddie Čustović

eddie_custovic_rsa01Edhem (Eddie) Čustović, who was born in Tuzla, now lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he works at the renowned La Trobe University as a project coordinator for academics and industry.

He has often been featured in local and global media because he pushes the limits of science and research with his inventions and innovations. However, his path to Australia was all but easy. He left BiH 20 years ago and travelled through Switzerland and Germany to arrive at his new found home.

“In 1991, the situation in the former Yugoslavia was already tense. I remember vividly that I was unable to see my father often, but I didn’t understand why. I was a happy child and I just started going to the first grade of elementary school. The war had already started in Croatia and the Yugoslav People’s Army recruited men regularly, but not many people knew where they went. My father was aware of the events in Croatia and he strongly opposed the conflicts. Later on I found out that together with three more men he had made a rebellion at the Dubrave airport, where several thousand reservists decided not to go to Croatia and fight. That moment changed my entire life,” 31-year-old Eddie Čustović began his story.

The next day, his father was accused to be the enemy of the state by the military court of JNA. He left Tuzla the same day and found temporary refuge in Zurich.

“In search for my father, we were told that the JNA was ready to use my mother, my younger brother and me to blackmail my father and force him to come back. Soon after that, my mother and brother left BiH and joined dad. Unaware that the situation was becoming more and more dangerous, I stayed with my grandparents in Tuzla where I continued attending first grade. However, the situation worsened and my parents could no longer return to the country where the war raged, nor it was safe for me to stay in Tuzla. My grandfather had to take me from Bosnia to Switzerland, and that is what happened,” said Eddie.

Because of constant moving, Eddie changed schools six times in two years. He claims that it was really difficult to learn something when you are constantly on the go and you lose the already acquired friendships, and in addition to all of that you have to learn a new language. After three years in Switzerland, his parents got an offer to go to USA or Australia. They chose Australia.

“In our house in Tuzla there were many books which I read over and over again, and since my grandmother was a math teacher I can say that it caused my love for numbers and technology, which fascinated me. There was never a major doubt about what I will do for a living – it was either medicine or engineering. Eventually, I chose engineering because I thought that I would be able to give my greatest contribution to humanity in this field. I never wanted to be a part of the mass and I always strived to be different from others. In this case, I wanted to be different because of my knowledge,” said Eddie.

Upon arriving in Australia, Eddie lived in a suburb of Melbourne which is usually home to the working class. His desire for science and knowledge led to him enrolling in one of the leading Australian universities, La Trobe, with maximum results achieved. Persistence, effort, sacrifice, support from his family and desire to prove himself in everything that he did paid off.

Among many successful projects and innovations, one of them attracted a lot of media attention – Countakick, a wearable device designed for pregnant women in the third trimester of pregnancy, which enables them to monitor the movement or kicks of the baby. The device is in the shape of a belt which uses a combination of microphones and sensors, and monitors the movement of the baby during the last couple of months of pregnancy.

The young scientist travels a lot and frequently visits his family in Tuzla and Sarajevo.

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