Dr Hooman Mehdizadeh-Rad at work at CDU. Image credit: Supplied
Engineers in regional and rural areas of Australia are leaders in the profession just as much as those on the metropolitan east coast.
One standout example is Dr Hooman Mehdizadeh-Rad MIEAust CPEng, a senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at Charles Darwin University (CDU) who was named Engineers Australia Emerging Professional Engineer of the Year in late 2023.
Mehdizadeh-Rad’s research examines the design of zero-energy buildings and counteracting the effects of urban heat islands.
The 2023 Excellence Awards judges remarked on Mehdizadeh-Rad’s active leadership and research excellence.
“Hooman has successfully navigated the pathway between academia and industry, with his research into solar cell technology and zero energy buildings being widely published with practical applications for policy writers and manufacturers,” the judges said.
“Hooman demonstrates his contribution to the engineering profession through his active leadership on technical and industry committees and [the] college board, and his lobbying for grant funding has realised improved advanced manufacturing facilities for Charles Darwin University students.”
Indeed, Mehdizadeh-Rad is no stranger to such recognition, having been named Engineers Australia Young Mechanical Engineer of the Year in 2022, when he was also awarded the Sir George Julius Medal.
A passion for teaching and imparting inspirational lessons to students guides his professional life. To find out more, create asked him about his research and teaching, and what the award means to him as a Territorian. Read the full Q&A below.
“My primary research goal is to enhance the livability of Darwin and the Northern Territory while mitigating the impacts of global warming. My research is particularly focused on designing zero-energy buildings, harnessing solar energy, and reducing urban heat islands in the region.
“Darwin has hot and humid weather, particularly during the wet season. Therefore, the cooling load of buildings in Darwin is very high.”
“The solutions include cutting-edge technologies and methodologies such as smart windows, new types of coating with high reflectance for the envelope of the buildings, phase change materials and different shading devices. These techniques can reduce the cooling load and subsequently the energy consumption of the buildings.
“We need more heat-efficient buildings and we need to mitigate the heat island effect to improve livability and make things more comfortable for residents, and to address the effects of global warming.”
“It’s very exciting. My personal view is that it’s a very meaningful decision to have someone from the Northern Territory, of all the states and territories in Australia, win the award.
A student residing in Darwin can now recognise that, through diligence and community service, they can achieve remarkable success. I hope this accomplishment motivates the talent that exists within our region, inspiring local students to aspire to greatness and make positive contributions to their community and beyond.
“Hopefully, being named as the Emerging Professional Engineer of the Year can help change the view that people in the Northern Territory and in smaller cities across Australia cannot make a large contribution and be awarded for it.”
“I like teaching. The reason I’m passionate about it is that I can share my knowledge with students. And I try to link the lessons to real-world scenarios, such as when I’m teaching applied fluid mechanics. I notice the students become more interested in studying engineering and to continue working in this area.”
“My plan is to focus on getting to the next level at my work and perhaps becoming an associate professor someday. I also plan to continue my work in the community as part of Engineers Australia. I’ve had discussions with the Engineers Australia team about potentially joining the panel of judges for the Northern Territory Emerging Professional Engineer of the Year in 2024.
“Overall, I want to help more students find proper engineering placements for them to undertake, and to promote the benefits of engineering. We have a lot of engineering opportunities and engineering challenges here in Darwin, and those challenges should be solved by local engineers.”
Learn more about the Engineers Australia Excellence Awards program.
Lachlan Haycock is a journalist and translator who has written for publications in Australia and abroad. His passion for all things Indonesian is second only to the accurate use of apostrophes on public signage.
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