James Trevelyan

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

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

    6009 Perth


  • 776 Citations
  • 12 h-Index
1992 …2019

Research output per year

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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.

Teaching overview


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

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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Research Output

30-Second Engineering: 50 key principles, methods, and fields explained in half a minute

Trevelyan, J. & Sercombe, T., 1 Oct 2019, London: Ivy Press. 160 p.

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book/Anthology

  • Identifying value in the engineering enterprise

    Trevelyan, J. & Williams, B., 2019, The engineering-business nexus: Symbiosis, tension and co-evolution. Hyldgaard Christensen, S., Delahousse, B., Didier, C., Meganck, M. & Murphy, M. (eds.). Cham: Springer International Publishing, Vol. 32. p. 281-313 (Philosophy of Engineering and Technology).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

  • Localised air conditioning: comfort with sustainable energy demand

    Trevelyan, J., 11 Apr 2019, Comfort at the Extremes 2019: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on: Comfort at the Extremes: Energy, Economy and Climate. Roaf, S. & Finlayson, W. (eds.). Ecohouse Initiative Ltd, p. 338-345 8 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paper

    Open Access
  • 350 Downloads (Pure)

    Transitioning to engineering practice

    Trevelyan, J., 2 Nov 2019, In : European Journal of Engineering Education. 44, 6, p. 821-837 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

  • Value creation in the engineering enterprise: an educational perspective

    Trevelyan, J. & Williams, B., 21 Feb 2018, In : European Journal of Engineering Education. p. 1-23 23 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 3 Citations (Scopus)



    Japan Robotics Association Award

    James Trevelyan (Recipient) & Kenneth Taylor (Recipient), 1 Jul 1996


  • Japan Robotics Association Prize

    James Trevelyan (Recipient) & Dianne Elford (Recipient), 1 Aug 1988


  • Activities

    • 6 Public lecture, debate or seminar
    • 2 Publication peer review
    • 1 Consultancy/collaboration
    • 1 Visiting an external academic institution

    Localised air conditioning: comfort with sustainable energy demand

    James Trevelyan (Speaker)
    11 Apr 2019

    Activity: Service and engagementPublic lecture, debate or seminar

    Qatar University

    James Trevelyan (Visiting researcher)
    Feb 2019

    Activity: External visitsVisiting an external academic institution

    TALE 2018 Keynote Address: Doing more with less…

    James Trevelyan (Speaker)
    5 Dec 2018

    Activity: Service and engagementPublic lecture, debate or seminar

    APEC SME Business Forum Keynote Address: More with Less: Engineering Productivity and SMEs

    James Trevelyan (Speaker)
    27 Nov 2018

    Activity: Service and engagementPublic lecture, debate or seminar

    IICEE 2017 Keynote Address: Educating students about value creation in the engineering enterprise

    James Trevelyan (Speaker)
    21 Nov 2017

    Activity: Service and engagementPublic lecture, debate or seminar

    Press / Media

    Only new ideas will boost productivity

    James Trevelyan


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    How necessity inspires invention in the mind of engineer James Trevelyan

    James Trevelyan


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    Cool runnings: Aussie inventor who took his heat buster to the world

    James Trevelyan


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Press / Media

    When robots learn to lie, then we should worry about AI

    James Trevelyan


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Press / Media


    APEC SME Business Forum

    James Trevelyan (Participant)

    Impact: Public policy Impacts