Founder and Chairman
Re-Engineering Australia Foundation
Michael is a Mechanical Engineer who spent 30 years leading his own technology start-up engaged in implementing computer aided engineering technology in major manufacturers around the world. Customers included Boeing, Toyota, Ford, IBM, Proton, Australian Government Department of Defence, the Indian Navy, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (China), and Tata Technologies.
With the goal of engaging, inspiring, and educating students, teachers, and industry, Michael founded the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation in 1998. The Foundation focusses on implementing STEM career intervention programs in years K-12. To date REA has mentored more than 800,000 students through its STEM programs.
Michael is a world leader in the application of STEM education having helped implement STEM career intervention programs in France, UK, China, and Canada.
How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Volunteering in support of Engineers Australia began 21 years ago when I establish the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation (REA). My volunteering started with the work of REA and went through to becoming NSW President in 2016.
Why did you become a volunteer?
It looked to be the right thing to do. I saw volunteering as part of the long game rather than expecting an ROI for my efforts. As an employer of engineers, I could see that student interest in engineering was declining and we needed to put in place activities which would engage more attention from both boys and girls. REA was created with the fundamental driver to undertake activities which would attract more students to careers in engineering.
In the early 2000s I became involved at a committee level, and was elected NSW President in 2016.
What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
Volunteering can have a connotation of ‘showing up now and again to help out’ but I have never seen it like this. For me, EA provides a platform and opportunity to get involved in putting back into society. The opportunity to work with students is a rewarding component of my engagement with EA. Young minds are entirely inspirational to be around. Having the opportunity to work with school students to highlight just how exciting careers in engineering can be has given me the highest return.
What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Young people are inspirational in their fundamental approach to life, but it is the responsibility of us as engineers to be the catalyst for showing them how to turn their motivation toward solving problems of society. Over the past 21 years, I have had the opportunity to work with and influence the lives of more than 800,000 students. I can think of no more significant benefit for society than a generation of passionate young men and women on their way to the top. Our country is in good hands.
How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
My desire to put back into the community comes from the concept that if you want to be a leader, you must do what leaders do. My career has given me the management skills, knowledge, experience, and approach to life. Skills that can be used to help drive the development of the activities we undertake with students.
How do you balance work and volunteering?
I see no need for balance beyond common sense. Any level of community services has its pay off just as a career does. We are only discussing the time frame to the pay off when we talk about developing balance, as there is a natural fit between the two.
What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
Stop talking and start doing. In the long game, people will be judged by what they do rather than what they tell people they do, which is a disease of social media.