25 November 2010

Bill Schofield to deliver Hargrave Lecture

This year’s annual Hargrave Lecture is to be delivered to the Melbourne Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society (Australian Division) by my friend and colleague Dr Bill Schofield AM.  Bill was in charge of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) labs at Fishermans Bend throughout my time as Secretary, Department of Defence.

The lecture

The subject of the lecture will be David Warren, the Scientist, the Black Box Saga and the lessons learnt.

The impact of David Warren’s invention of the black box flight recorder has been immense -  in a world where the volume of air travel continually increases yet the number of air accidents has gone down over the years because we can find out what causes aircraft to crash, David’s invention must have saved tens of thousands of lives. Not many scientists can say that about their work.

And yet he faced overwhelming opposition and indifference to the  introduction of his black box. Recognition of him and his  inventiveness came very late in life after he had finished regular employment and to this day there are many in Australia, let alone the world, who do not know that the black box was invented a few miles from the Melbourne CBD by a combustion chemist.

Soon after graduation Bill Schofield worked for David as an assistant, later as a colleague and became his admirer and friend. He was an extraordinary and unconventional man who went on to work on fuel cells and the world’s future energy supply long before others saw these as important scientific topics.

This lecture will recount some anecdotes that illustrate David’s unusual  attitude to science, work and authority. It will also draw out some lessons from the Black Box story about the acceptance of disruptive technology.

The lecturer

Dr Bill Schofield is one of Australia’s leading scientists with a career spanning forty years in the Department of Defence and as a consultant on aeronautical and defence technology for Australian Industry.

He was the Director of the Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratory for six years where he was responsible for all science and technology for the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. Before this Dr Schofield held the positions of First Assistant Secretary Science Policy, Chief of Air Vehicles Division and Chief of Flight Mechanics & Propulsion Division in the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

He was a co-author of the ‘Kinnaird’ report to cabinet into defence acquisition practices which now sets the guidelines for all Defence acquisitions. Between 1996 and 2006 he has served on a number of advisory panels for the Victorian Government. He has led reviews of Australian defence industry for both the Federal and Victorian governments and was appointed by federal cabinet to the Board of the Australian Submarine Corporation [2006-2009]. He is Chairman of the CRC for Advanced Composite Structures and the board of another four defence and aeronautical related companies.

His achievements have been recognized by his appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia for “For service to the Australian Defence Force’s aviation capabilities as a research scientist and administrator, particularly through the Aeronautical and Maritime Research Laboratory” and the award of a Centenary Medal for “outstanding contribution to science and technology particularly public science policy”. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Member of the Institute of Company Directors.

Venue and timing

The lecture will be delivered at a dinner at the Crown Entertainment Complex at 6.00 for 6.30 pm on Monday 6 December 2010. Registrations close on Friday 26 November 2010.

Further details and details of how to register may be found on the RAeS Melbourne Branch’s website here.

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