James Trevelyan

Emeritus Professor, BE MEngSc W.Aust., FIEAust, CPEng, MASME, Emeritus Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M050), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


James Trevelyan practices as a mechatronics and mechanical engineer developing new air conditioning technology, and is a fellow of Engineers Australia. Since 2016, after retiring from academia, he has become a startup entrepreneur, directing Close Comfort Pty Ltd. He is well known internationally for pioneering research on sheep shearing robots (1975-1993), remote access laboratories and robots (1994-2002), landmine clearance methods (1996-2004) and engineering practice (2002-2015).
He was presented with the 1993 Engelberger Science and Technology Award in Tokyo, the world’s pre-eminent award for robotics research, and has twice been presented with the Japan Industrial Robot Association award for best papers at robotics conferences.
His teaching has also been well recognised with a national and several UWA distinguished teaching awards, and also awards for papers at international conferences on engineering education.
His most recent research has been on engineering practice, to understand how engineering work is actually performed, an aspect of engineering that has not been well researched before. This research helps to explain why services in low-income countries such as safe drinking water usually cost much more than in industrialised countries, helping to explain continuing poverty in many countries. His new book, The Making of an Expert Engineer, provides solutions that could help eliminate most of the poverty we see today.

Roles and responsibilities

Retired July 2016

Future research

Continuing research on engineering practice and engineering education

Funding overview

Approximately $0.75 million for work on engineering practice 2003- 2016 (through grants, scholarships for graduate students, and company donations.)

Current projects

Engineering practice and education

Drinking water supplies in developing countries, applications of internet of things to provide financially self-sustaining water supply utilities.

Industrial relevance

Global productivity growth has slowed since the early 2000s.  Australia is no exception.  Engineering practice research has shown how the influence of education has limited the skills of engineers and their ability to create innovations and deliver projects in line with forecast financials, undermining financial performance of large industries such as mining, petroleum and manufacturing. Applying this research has the potential to restore productivity growth on a global scale.


Engineering practice, learning and engineering education. 


some Urdu
French & German

Community engagement

CEO, Founder director, Inventor of Close Comfort personal air conditioning technology

Volunteer Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Advisory Committee 1995-2018

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

External positions

CEO, Founder, Close Comfort Pty Ltd

1 Jan 2007 → …

Research expertise keywords

  • Engineering practice, organisation
  • Engineering education
  • Patents
  • Intellectual property
  • Human factors engineering, ergonomics
  • Landmine and unexploded ordnance clearance methods
  • Mechatronics
  • Robotics
  • Expert witness


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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