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Lance Endersbee AO

lance endersbee

Full Name: Lance Aubrey Endersbee

Original Appointment at Monash: Dean, Faculty of Engineering

Date of Commencement: 1976

Date of Retirement: 1988

Lance Endersbee was born on 18 November 1925. He attended Melbourne Technical College, before taking up a Fellowship Diploma in Civil Engineering in 1944. Endersbee went on to complete an undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1949 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering) with honours.

After graduating, Endersbee worked for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. From 1950–51 he worked as a Field Engineer in the Scientific Services Division. Then, in 1952 he became an in-service trainee for the United States Bureau of Reclamation (located in Australia). For the next five years he worked as an Engineer and Executive Engineer in the Dams and Tunnels Design Section. Endersbee’s rich and varied industry experience continued and between the years 1958 and 1973, he worked for the Hydro-Electric Commission (HEC) in Tasmania. From 1958–62 he was Project Design Engineer for the Great Lake Power Development. In 1964 he took leave from the HEC and travelled to Thailand as United Nations Advisor on Dam Design and Hydro-Electric Power Development.

From 1965 until 1974 he continued working for the Hydro-Electric Commission and was involved in four major developments: the Mersey-Forth Project, the Gordon River Project, the Bell Bay Thermal Power Station and the Pieman River Project. Endersbee was awarded several prizes in his professional life before he joined Monash. In 1963 he received the Warren Memorial Prize and in 1967 the Chapman Medal of the Institution of Engineers Australia. Also in 1967, Endersbee was awarded a Master of Engineering from the University of Melbourne for his extensive publication record.

In 1974 Endersbee was made an Honorary Associate of the School of Civil Engineering at the University of New South Wales. Endersbee clearly enjoyed this foray into academia, as a year later, in 1975 he applied for the position of Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Monash University. 

endersbee cover letter

When Associate Professor Donald from Civil Engineering contacted Endersbee’s referees, he reported that one of Endersbee’s referees ‘would give Endersbee absolutely unqualified approval for the position – and he would be very envious of us. Endersbee would have no difficulty in making the transfer to the academic world.’

On 5 January 1976, after extensive discussion, the University Council offered Lance Endersbee the position of Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, which he gratefully accepted. Endersbee commenced as Dean in early March 1976 after he returned from the Twelfth Congress of the International Commission on Large Dams in the United States.

The departing Vice-Chancellor Louis Matheson wrote to Endersbee after his acceptance:

It will be a big change from your usual mode of life but I am sure that you will soon adapt and begin to think creatively about a very important job. There are some big problems ahead of the profession, of the training institutions in general and of the university engineering schools and all need enlightened guidance. You will be in a key position to make big contributions. I hope that you and Margaret and your family do not find the change from your lovely home too much of a wrench. At least the weather may be marginally better.

While he was Dean, Endersbee participated in a number of overseas conferences. In 1979 he travelled to Switzerland for the International Congress of the International Society for Rock Mechanics. He attended a symposium in Germany in 1982 and a conference in New Zealand in 1985.

endersbee in sound

Lance Endersbee was a member of a variety of different institutions and sat on a number of committees while he was at Monash University. In 1976 he was asked to join the National Energy Advisory Committee, which he did, serving from 1977–80. In October 1979, he was made Honorary Member of the Engineering Institute of Canada, and in 1982 he was asked to become a Member of the Advisory Committee in Science and Technology for the National Library. In 1981 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to engineering.

During his time as Dean, Endersbee took every opportunity to engage with and encourage relationships between the academy and industry. He encouraged the continued development of engineering courses to meet changing professional needs, supporting, fostering and formalising innovations such as the combined engineering degrees. Endersbee himself, as well as the staff in the Faculty, engaged in external consulting work and research collaborations with industry. Endersbee was especially concerned with the broad relationship between technological development, economic growth and social change, and the corresponding role and purpose of engineering education generally and wrote a number of papers addressing these issues.

In May 1986, Endersbee was offered a further two year reappointment as Dean, which he gladly accepted. Also during this year, he was awarded the prestigious Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal from the Institution of Engineers Australia.

At the end of his two year reappointment, Endersbee became Pro Vice-Chancellor (Special Projects) for a one year term. Insert SOUND announcement of this. He was Pro Vice-Chancellor for the full term, but applied for early retirement in 1989. He was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor upon his retirement. Lance Endersbee continued consulting into his retirement, and in 2008 published a book about his work called A Voyage of Discovery. He died in October 2009.

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