Professor William Henry Warren

Professor William Henry Warren

Professor Warren delivered the first lecture in engineering at the University of Sydney on 27 March 1883. Earlier that month he was appointed the inaugural lecturer in Engineering in the University’s School of Natural Philosophy and the following year was appointed the first Professor of Engineering. He remained Head of the University’s Department of Engineering for 42 years and, in 1919, became the first President of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.

The Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering was opened in 1983 to mark the centenary of Warren’s first engineering lecture, a landmark in engineering education in Australia. It was established to foster excellence and innovation in all fields of Australian engineering.



The concept of The Warren Centre was first discussed at a luncheon on 20 September 1979, convened by the then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney Professor Sir Bruce Williams, Associate Professor Phil Jones (then Dean of Engineering) and Professor Bob Bilger invited several eminent engineers from industry and the Faculty to discuss how to mark the centenary of Professor Warren’s first engineering lecture.

This group concluded that, rather than setting up a ‘monument to the past’, the centenary should be celebrated by establishing a forward-looking institute with a ‘need to concentrate on excellence’ and the knowledge that ‘the involvement and close liaison with industry was important’.

Over the next several months, the Centenary Committee was formed to develop the concept of the proposed institute, launch a fund raising appeal and plan the 1983 celebration.


Centenary Committee

The Engineering Centenary Committee first met on 11 June 1980, under Chairman Dr Keith Brown, a former Deputy General Manager of CSR. There were twenty Founding Members of the Committee, including six Professors of the Engineering Faculty and engineers from a wide range of industry backgrounds.

After several months of meetings, a clear concept of a unique institution emerged, with the central objective of “fostering excellence and innovation in advanced engineering in all fields of Australian engineering”.

Under the draft Constitution proposed by the Centenary Committee, the relationship between the Centre and the University was to be quite unusual: it would be an independent institute affiliated with the Engineering Faculty, with its relationship with the University and the Faculty set out to ensure it would remain independent and committed solely to ‘fostering excellence and innovation in advanced engineering’. This mandate continues to the present day.


Opening Day: 17 May 1983

In May 1983, The Warren Centre was opened and Sir Alan Harris, our inaugural visiting Fellow, launched ‘Marine Works for Bulk Loading’, our first major project. It set a high standard and was a great start.

Over 30 years later, we are proud of a long list of achievements in many fields as diverse as high-performance computing, building fire and safety engineering, chemical storage, surface mining, underground space, energy management smart cards, managing the hi-tech enterprise, telecommunications, CAD, value-adding in manufactured products, and the Medical Device Network.

These contributions have only been possible because The Warren Centre has responded to real world issues and needs, and thereby gained the active involvement and support of our diverse constituency from industry, commerce and the professions.