Engineering pioneer inducted into Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Wednesday 5 March 2014

A low angle photograph of Swinburne University of Technology signage on the Advanced Technologies Centre building in Hawthorn.

Swinburne University of Technology engineering student Dianne Boddy has been inducted into the 2014 Victorian Honour Roll of Women, joining an elite group of inspirational women.

The prestigious honour has been bestowed upon the octogenarian, who had a successful career in engineering behind her before seeking to gain a formal university qualification.

“This is a wonderful achievement for Dianne, who has already made her mark in the world of engineering,” Swinburne President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Linda Kristjanson, said.

“She is an inspiration to other students, and especially to women who are studying and working in the field of engineering.”

It was after the death of her husband that Ms Boddy decided to fulfill her dream of going to university, and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Engineering (Robotics and Mechatronics) and Bachelor of Science (Computer Science and Software Engineering) at Swinburne.

“I am honoured to have been chosen as an inductee and to be included alongside some outstanding women,” Ms Boddy said.

"It will be a very busy week for me, as I will also be attending International Women’s Day events and it is the first week of the university semester.”

Ms Boddy had originally planned to attend university after completing secondary school, but was forced to enter the workforce due to her family situation at the time.

Ms Boddy’s first job was as a tracer at a Melbourne company specialising in food processing equipment, mining and harvesting machinery, and soon became a competent draftsperson entrusted with small original design projects. At the age of 23 she was put in charge of the design of all food processing plant and equipment handled by the company.

Her first major invention was in the late 1950s when she developed a new automatic peach feeding plant for canning.

“I knew that there was a simpler way of doing things,” Ms Boddy said.

“When I later travelled to Hawaii and saw a row of cannery machines retrofitted with my design it gave me such a confidence boost.”

In 1981 Ms Boddy joined a Robotic Sheep Shearing research project at the University of Western Australia as senior mechanical design engineer, and was sought for consultancy design in environmental fluid dynamics, civil engineering materials testing and geo-mechanics centrifuge research equipment.

She has been consulted on design in Australia and internationally from companies and agencies including the US Army, CSIRO, Shell Australia, Castrol, BP and Bundaberg Sugar.

During her 60-year career Ms Boddy has produced more than 2000 successful designs and has dozens of patents.

In 1987 she gained membership of the Institute of Engineers, is a fellow of Engineers Australia, and in 2010 received the AGM Mitchell Medal for her contributions to mechanical engineering.