Professor Michael Ferry
Professor, School of Materials Science and Engineering, UNSW
Deputy Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Design in Light Metals
Bachelor of Engineering (Materials) 1989
Professor Michael Ferry developed his love of metals and alloy materials in high school where he studied a mix of english, maths, biology, chemistry and engineering science. When it came time to decide on his undergraduate degree he admits to feeling quite torn on what to major in, deciding to go with a Bachelor of Engineering majoring in Materials.
This decision opened up a distinguished academic career that has taken him from Wollongong, to Sydney, to France and the United Kingdom and back to Sydney. Professor Ferry has held a number of academic positions internationally over the past twenty years; Visiting Fellow in the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering at the University of Cambridge, ESPRC Senior Fellow in the School of Materials at the University of Manchester and Visiting Professor, Ecole des Mines in Saint Etienne, France - one of the top graduate engineering schools in the world.
Of his time spent internationally he is most thankful for the opportunity to enhance his professional skills and to engage with like-minded people, “My time at Manchester was fantastic – my supervisor was Professor John Humphreys, a leader in the materials field. I made strong friendships and did some of my best research at the University of Manchester, despite the weather!”.
Professor Ferry has a long and very fruitful relationship with the University of Wollongong, first during his undergraduate degree and again when he took up an academic position in the Department of Materials Engineering between 1996 and 1999. “The class numbers were much smaller than some of the other larger universities. I was able to develop friendships with peers that had the same interests as me”.
His career has taken him to over ten different universities, both here and overseas and he believes that UOW rates as one of the best, “In terms of campus life, the people I have met and a supporting learning environment, the University of Wollongong was an unforgettable experience”.
Asked what the most rewarding aspect of his current job as Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of NSW is, the answer isn’t what you would expect, “I do love the research part of my job, but what I really enjoy is seeing average students excelling – I enjoy teaching and focussing on the students”. Professor Ferry feels that materials engineering is at the forefront of discovery, “The research is exciting and world-wide! It’s on a par with the discoveries being made in medical research”.
He has some sound advice for current UOW students, “Appreciate the value of learning. Take the information you gather and use it for the rest of your life”.