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Rian Dippenaar

Emeritus Professor

Citation delivered by Professor Valerie Linton Executive Dean, Engineering and Information Sciences at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Rian Dippenaar as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 8 December 2020.


Deputy Chancellor, I present Professor Rian Dippenaar. Rian Dippenaar has distinguished himself as a passionate educator and world renowned expert in his field, profoundly committed to merging industrially relevant projects with high-level academic research to transfer research outcomes into practice.

Born in South Africa and educated there and in the United Kingdom, Rian has worked extensively across industry, steelmaking and casting research, consulting and academia. Beginning his career as a scientist with steel giant Iscor Limited, now Arcelor Mittal South Africa, he was appointed Professor in the Iscor Chair at the University of Pretoria in 1980. He emigrated with his family to Australia – of which he is now a citizen – in 1996 as director of UOW’s then newly established BHP Institute for Steel Processing and Products and serving concurrently as Professor of Steelmaking and Casting.

At the helm of the influential multi-disciplinary institute, Rian forged powerful and enduring alliances between the University and the local steel industry that has long been the backbone of our region. These partnerships have generated a diverse array of industry research collaborations spanning decades, delivering innovations to solve real industry challenges, both current and future.

He has also established fruitful collaborations with top-ranked international steel companies, research institutes and universities around the world, seeking to advance creative, scientifically important and industrially relevant academic research in the field.

Rian has made a sizeable impact throughout his distinguished research career, conducting research supporting new technological developments and facilitating numerous transdisciplinary joint research projects in partnership with industry.

He helped commission the first high-temperature laser-scanning confocal microscope outside Japan at UOW, going on to establish a world-leading team using confocal microscopy for in-situ, real-time observation of high-temperature phase transformations. Rian was instrumental in securing funding for a modern replacement microscope in 2019, amplifying his team’s capacity to forge national and international research networks and attract significant industry funding.

He is widely published and cited, and a sought-after contributor to conferences internationally. Rian is a visiting professor at numerous leading universities internationally, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Iron and Steel Technologists and the editorial boards of prominent industry and academic journals. He has attracted more than $4.5 million in competitive grant funding, alongside being a successful co-applicant in three ARC-Linkage Infrastructure Grants and securing countless industry contract research projects.

As an educator, Rian has relished the opportunity to develop well-rounded students who balance extensive knowledge with critical thinking skills. He has guided 21 PhD students and 4 Master’s students to completion at the University of Wollongong where he has also been among the most popular lecturers at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Rian also contributed to the design and development of curriculum and played a crucial role in developing the University’s flexible entry common first year program in engineering. He served as Head of Postgraduate Studies for the School of Mechanical, Materials, Mechatronic and Biomedical Engineering and the Thesis Examination Committee for many years.

Deputy Chancellor, Rian Dippenaar has made an outstanding contribution both to his field and to the University. This award will continue his strong connection to the University, ensuring UOW, its staff and students will benefit from his expertise and guidance into the future.

It is a privilege to present Professor Rian Dippenaar to be admitted as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.

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