FOCUS Lecture Series

FOCUS is the Engineers Australia platform for influential speakers on technology, science, engineering, creativity, professional development.  FOCUS speakers bring Inspiration, Insight and Innovation to Australia’s engineering audience and general public.


Focus Lecture Series Update

In light of the growing concerns around Coronavirus (COVID-19), RAeS and Engineers Australia have decided to cancel the Focus Lecture Series event. This decision was not taken lightly. The health and safety of our staff, members and delegates is number one priority while this situation is continuously evolving.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]


Join us to hear from Dr Leonard John Hart-Smith on the key to successful engineering design and manufacturing - unlocking 50 years of Aerospace wisdom to solve future problems.


Hosted by the Joint Board for Aerospace Engineering of Engineers Australia and the Royal Aeronautical Society Australian Division.


This series is proudly sponsored by:

Focus series sponsor logos

Australian Society for Defence Engineering:

Australian Society for Defence Engineering (ASDE) is a technical society established by Engineers Australia in order to provide a forum to engage with various engineering fields and contribute to the practice of Defence engineering.

Aerospace Australia Ltd:

Aerospace Maritime and Defence Foundation of Australia Limited is a not-for-profit corporation limited by guarantee and established to promote the development of aviation and Australian industrial, manufacturing and information/communications technology resources in the fields of aviation, aerospace, maritime and defence.


About the Presentation

There is reluctance in industry to document past experiences. Sometimes to save embarrassment from failures and sometimes to avoid helping the competition by explaining successes. When developing new technologies computers can provide answers quickly; however, the underlying limitations of a programme/model can be dangerous when applied incorrectly. To be of value, they must be supplemented by engineers who have been better trained in the fundamentals, who can think for themselves: to make black-box computers their servants instead of being reduced to being their slaves.

In an environment focussed on stock price and schedule, progress is impeded when past mistakes are ignored. If repeated, these can lead to undesired outcomes. From unnecessary manufacturing costs through to program delays: Things that could easily be avoided had there been better access to what was already known, but likely only available as undocumented tribal knowledge.

In this presentation, Dr Hart-Smith will share his experience in solving production problems for numerous organisations around the world.

This is a rare opportunity to gain an insight to his extensive learning from working in aircraft factories worldwide and engaging some of the most experienced experts in the world on all aspects of aircraft structures, all eager to pass on their wisdom to anyone who could comprehend it. Two of his solutions led to very low-cost production of structures with zero defects during the entire production run. One of his novel design ideas saved $500,000 on each C-17. The most important lessons learned, illustrated by specific cases, will be presented in the hope that others can benefit from them in the future.


About the Speaker  

Dr Leonard John Hart-Smith FTSE

Dr Leonard John Hart-Smith is retired from the Boeing Company, Long Beach, California, USA

Dr Leonard John Hart-Smith FTSE

Born and educated in Australia, culminating in a PhD and Higher Doctorate in Engineering from Monash University, in 1968 Dr Hart-Smith took a position at the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California, fulfilling a boyhood dream to design and build aircraft. Forty years later, he retired from The Boeing Company, as a Senior Technical Fellow, the highest level in the Technical Career Path, being well known at most of the world’s aerospace companies. He was best known as an expert on adhesively bonded joints and strength prediction for composites, having lectured on these topics at many universities and factories around the world, and developed related computer codes. But he is now best known for his famous paper on the out-sourced profits associated with excessive out-sourcing of work.

He consulted on some fascinating projects, particularly solving production problems on bonded and composite structures that other experts had been unable to solve. He has regularly presented his research results and what he learned at lectures in Australia and around the world. His own research and observations from countless hours in many aircraft factories were complemented by discussions with some of the best of the old-time experts, passing on what they thought were the most important lessons from their own careers. Sadly, this wisdom is almost never documented. Dr Hart-Smith has consciously tried to document what he learned. This lecture tour is a part of that effort.


5.30 pm – 6.00pm: Registration | Networking and refreshments 
6.00 pm – 7.30 pm: Presentation Dr Leonard John Hart-Smith | Q & A Session


Tickets FOCUS Lecture registration includes:

  • Attendance at the FOCUS Lecture and Q & A session
  • Networking opportunities at the welcome tea and coffee (5.30 pm to 6.00 pm) 
  • Access to the senior Defence and industry delegate during the event
  • Certificate of Attendance
  • Eligible for 1.5 Engineers Australia Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours
  • Access to the presentation slides after the series is completed




Swedish Aeronautics: Industry, Research, Technologies and Innovation. Saab and its Aircraft - Dr Billy Fredriksson, former Saab Aerospace SVP and CTO

Swedish Aeronautics: 
Industry, Research, Technologies and Innovation
Saab and its Aircraft

Saab is a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship in aircraft engineering. 

The presentation highlighted the challenges and solutions to developing the multirole Gripen fighter aircraft; the impact of these types of advanced high technology projects on other industries; and what made it possible for a small country like Sweden to develop fighter aircraft.

Innovation in Aeronautical Sciences: The Art of the Possible - Dr Susan Ying

 Safety a Burning Ambition: The Science of Fire for Defence Platforms - Zenka Mathys

Defence has a burning desire to understand the effects of fire to ensure the survivability and safety of platforms and servicemen and women. Innovative collaborative research has developed predictive models, experimentation and innovative solutions to promote the safety, survivability and operational capability of Defence platforms.
Engineers Australia and the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group are proud to invite members, professionals and the general public to attend an upcoming FOCUS Lecture, “Safety a Burning Ambition: The Science of Fire for Defence Platforms”.  These lectures will be held in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne in November 2018.
Zenka Mathys’ research in flammability, fire resistance and structural fire performance has led to the development of a world class modelling and analysis capability that has had a number of significant outcomes for Defence.  Zenka has been involved in a number of international collaborative projects where innovative solutions, development of models, analysis and assessments have supported the capability assurance, safety and enhanced the survivability and safety of Defence platforms.  
The presenter’s contributions to the following Defence platforms were highlighted: 
•    Ensuring the Minehunter Class vessels are safe 
•    Changes in fire protection on the Air Warfare Destroyers
•    Understanding aluminium structures in fire to support the Armadale Class Patrol Boats
•    Forensic analysis and understanding the flammability of materials to support fire assessments across Defence Platforms

Maximising Australian Defence Force personnel performance in austere environments – Dr Mark Patterson