David Hobbs

MIEAust

Senior Lecturer and Researcher at Medical Device Research Institute

Flinders University

David Hobbs has bachelor’s degrees in physics (1992-1994) and Biomedical Engineering (1996-2000), with First Class Honours, and a PhD in Rehabilitation Engineering (2010-2018) from Flinders University. He has extensive experience as a Rehabilitation Engineer in the field of disability, rehabilitation engineering, and assistive technologies; and is currently a Senior Lecturer and academic staff member within the College of Science and Engineering, and a researcher within the Medical Device Research Institute at Flinders University.

David’s professional honours to date include being awarded a Churchill Fellowship in the field of rehabilitation engineering and Universal Design (2003); Engineers Australia’s Young Professional Engineer of the Year (2004); Engineers Australia’s Top 100 Most Influential Engineers (2005); a Fulbright Professional Scholarship in the field of paediatric rehabilitation engineering (2008) and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Flinders University (2016).

David has experience working in rehabilitation engineering research and industry institutions in Australia, England, Canada and the United States, holds a patent for his PhD work, and has twice won first prize in the College of Biomedical Engineers’ Better Technology Awards for novel assistive technologies. He is an invited TEDx speaker and has delivered numerous invited and keynote presentations. David has also been an invited delegate and presenter representing Australia at two Global Assistive Technology Summits at the WHO in Geneva.

How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I’ve been volunteering with EA since 2000. I started by joining the Young Engineers Australia (YEA) SA Committee, followed by the YEA National Committee (as the SA representative), then the SA Division Committee, the National Committee on Rehabilitation Engineering (or NCRE, which I’m still a member of), then the College of Leadership and Management (CELM) group when it first started in SA.

Why did you become a volunteer?
I wanted to give back, and being able to through my profession was the perfect way to do so. I wanted to help younger engineers coming through and also get to know more senior engineers. Working at a national level (with YEA-National) was a great way to see and understand what was happening outside SA.

What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
I liked being involved with my profession and being surrounded by and working with older more experienced engineers. I enjoyed watching how they operated and how they went about organising, planning, assessing and delivering CPD and other events for EA. It was a combination of being strategic and operational skills. Delivering events that members loved or got a lot out of attending were the most enjoyable aspects.

What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I think my greatest achievement was when I was a member of the YEA National Committee, and in partnership with Snowy Hydro we created a funding program that helped Young Engineers take their ideas and turn them into action and outputs by facilitating a granting scheme. The nominated projects were excellent and the impact was terrific!

How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
I did a lot of volunteering when I was a student because someone once told me that my most precious asset was my time. I didn’t have a lot of money then (most students don’t), so only supported a few key charities that were close to my heart.

Headshot of David Hobbs

The next best thing I could do was volunteer my time, and Engineers Australia became one of those volunteer opportunities. I’ve been lucky to use my skills and experiences when volunteering in my career, and vice versa. A key realisation is that all work (volunteer or paid) is valued, important, and depended upon.

How do you balance work and volunteering?
Now I have a family, this is becoming trickier and trickier. My main volunteering opportunities now relate to my children’s school and extra-curricular activities, which keep us very busy! However, it also means I’m actively involved in what my children do and that I get to see them do it as well, which is a great trade off!

What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
If you have the time, energy and enthusiasm, jump in and do it. Volunteering within EA is a great way to develop your professional networks across different Colleges (if you volunteer in a non-College specific role). You get to contribute to the future of the profession and ‘make it happen’ every day.

Image: courtesy of David Hobbs