Engineers and those who have made contributions to the profession were recognised this year with Australia Day Honours. Here’s who made the 2020 list.
Nearly 1100 people were recognised nationally in this year’s cohort of Australia Day 2020 Honours recipients.
Governor-General David Hurley called this year’s recipients “extraordinary”, and said the list is just a small sample of Australians’ willingness to serve their communities.
“The fantastic thing, the inspirational thing, is that we all know people like those who have been recognised today – people who look out for each other and, day-in-day-out, serve their communities in ways big and small,” he said.
“We have seen countless examples of this sort of service during the bushfire crisis.”
He added that this year’s list is a diverse one, with the percentage of women recipients in the Order of Australia above 41 per cent. The oldest recipient in the list is 97 years old, and the youngest is 19 years old.
Many of the individuals on this year’s list were awarded for services to engineering.
Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)
Laureate Professor Geoffrey Stevens was honoured as an AO for distinguished service to education, to chemical engineering and environmental remediation, and as a mentor.
Stevens has been with the University of Melbourne’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering since 2011, and he has held various other positions with the institution since 2000. He has contributed to a number of interesting and important projects, such as working to develop water treatment plants to clean waste dumps in Antarctica and researching carbon capture technology.
Stevens has also shared his expertise internationally, working with universities and organisations in Japan, the US and Germany.
Member of the Order of Australia (AM)
Central Queensland University Chancellor John Abbott became an AM for significant service to education and to the resources sector. In addition to his contributions to education and regional development, Abbott is a Registered Professional Engineer and a Fellow of Engineers Australia. His past career highlights include serving as the General Manager for Rio Tinto (Comalco Alumina Project) in the late 1990s and as the General Manager for Queensland Energy Resources in the early 2000s.
Dr Geoffrey Boughton was honoured in this category for significant service to engineering and to professional bodies. He has been a Fellow of Engineers Australia since 1990, and serves with the organisation as a member of the Western Australia Structures Panel and the Australian Earthquake Society. He has also contributed to several Standards Australia committees, works as an engineer with TimberEd Services, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the James Cook University.
Professor Laura Poole-Warren was honoured with an AM for significant service to education, and to biomedical engineering. The University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor of biomedical engineering is also active on several boards and committees dedicated to advancing the fields of education, biomedical research and gender equality in STEM professions.
Dr Errol Seymour received an AM for significant service to the oil and gas industry, and to engineering. His career spans the energy sector, with previous leadership positions at Woodside Energy and Shell Oil. He is currently a Fellow of Engineers Australia and has chaired several industry groups.
Vianney Shiel was recognised with an AM for significant service to electronic engineering and to education. The Managing Director for Airtronic Circuits also lectured at LaTrobe University and RMIT University for many years.
Rounding out the AM honours in the general division is Emeritus Professor Edward White for significant service to higher education, particularly to chemical engineering. He has been an Emeritus Professor in the School of Chemical Engineering at University of Queensland since the late 1990s, and has been an educator since the early ‘50s. He also holds two patents for centrifuge performance.
In the military division, three individuals received AMs for engineering-related service.
Military Air Commodore Wendy Blyth was honoured for exceptional service to the Australian Defence Force in C-130J Super Hercules sustainment reform;by reducing long-standing logistics shortfalls, significantly enhancing system capability, and improving aircraft availability and responsiveness to operational needs. She also managed the P-8 Poseidon capability’s transition into operational service.
Military Group Captain Leanne Lee was honoured for exceptional service in airworthiness practice, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter operational certification, and E-7A Airborne Early Warning and Control sustainment for the Australian Defence Force. She is a senior engineer who greatly influenced the engineering effort to bring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter capability into operation.
Finally, Military Air Commodore Gerald van Leeuwen was honoured for exceptional service to the Australian Defence Force in aerospace capability development, major capital acquisition and air combat sustainment. AHe is a senior officer and engineer who managed and led aspects of the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport Advanced Refueling Boom System flight test program; in the acquisition of the C-27J Battlefield Airlifter capability; and in sustainment for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and systems.
All three recipients of Member of the Order of Australia in the military division are Fellows of Engineers Australia.
Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
Stephen Gilbert received his AM for service to engineering and to the community. Gilbert has served as the Director of the City of Adelaide Clipper Ship Restoration Project since 2008, while also currently serving as a consultant engineer. He is also a Fellow of Engineers Australia.
Wasantha Perera was honoured for service to the Sri Lankan community of Victoria and to engineering. Perera is a Chartered Engineer and currently works as the Communication Engineer and Area Team Leader for Telstra’s Victoria and Tasmania divisions.
In the military division, Warrant Officer Class One Roger Read was honoured for meritorious service as the Information Systems Engineer, Force Installation Team 31 from 2017 to 2019.
Several others received honours for non-engineering services, though the individuals have contributed to the engineering profession in other ways.
Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell received an AO for distinguished service to education, particularly to the social sciences and cultural anthropology. She currently serves as the inaugural Florence Violet McKenzie Chair at the Australian National University, working with the College of Engineering and Computer Science to bring non-traditional skills to engineering and computing professions.
Peter Fritz also received an AO for distinguished service to business, particularly to information technology and communications, and to public policy. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and has made many contributions to business and industry.
Dr Donald Grant was honoured as an AO for distinguished service to surveying, particularly through the establishment of a combined public sector mapping agency. He served as the Surveyor-General for New South Wales from 1984-2000, and was the Founding Chairman of Public Sector Mapping Agencies Australia.
Rounding out the AO category is Campbell Newman, who was honoured for distinguished service to the people and Parliament of Queensland, particularly as Premier, and to local government. He served as the 38th Premier of Queensland, and is a Fellow of Engineers Australia.
Those who received an AM include Dyan Currie for significant service to town planning and strategic urban development. The Brisbane City Council Chief Planner has previously served as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Southern Queensland.
Professor Richard de Dear also received an AM for significant service to education, particularly the design of the built environment. He has contributed significantly to building and climate science, and has contributed to research in wind engineering, building thermal engineering and civil engineering as a visiting and Adjunct Professor at several international universities.
Catherine Inglis was honoured with an AM for significant service to the building and construction industry. She is currently the General Manager – Technical Innovation for Brickworks Limited and serves as the National Director for the Housing Industry Association. She also contributes to Standards Australia as a member of the Prefabricated Concrete Elements and Autoclaved Aerated Concrete committees.
The late Eric Lumsden received a posthumous AM for significant service to public administration and to planning. He held several planning, infrastructure and public service roles in Western Australia, and won the Dr Ken Michael Gold Medal from the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia in 2015.
Graham McKenzie-Smith received an AM for significant service to military history preservation and to forestry. He has served as the Honorary Historian and as a Committee Member with the Royal Australian Engineers Association of WA since 2009, and has participated in several efforts to record and preserve Australia’s military history.
Michael Malouf received an AM for significant service to local government, and to the community of Victoria. Malouf has been a Fellow of Engineers Australia since 1998, and is also an Engineering Executive.
The late Professor Steven Raine received a posthumous AM for significant service to soil science and agriculture, and to education. During his many years at the University of Southern Queensland, he contributed to the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying in various capacities, including as the Head of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and served as the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying.
Walter Russell received an AM for significant service to medicine in the field of anaesthesia, and to medical health standards. He received the David Dewhurst Award from the Engineers Australia Biomedical College in 2018.
Professor Robert Shepherd received an AM for significant service to biomedical research and to education. Shepherd is currently the Principal Scientist at the Bionics Institute, and was a member of the team that helped demonstrate the safety of Cochlear’s bionic ear in the 1980s.
Damien Smith received an AM for significant service to business through a range of roles. As a member of the legal profession, he authored two editions of Engineers and Legal Liabilities.
Harry Better, a Fellow of Engineers Australia was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Jewish community of Victoria. Joining him in this category is Kenneth Adams, who has contributed significantly to Australia’s plumbing industry; and Dr Qazi Ahmad, a retired engineer and academic who has contributed significantly to interfaith relations.
We will add to this list as more information about the Australia Day Honours 2020 recipients becomes known.