STEMiverse 0010 - Phillip Mallon

July 3, 2017

 In this episode of STEMiverse, Marcus and I talk with Philip Mallon.

Started at the age of 9, Philip built a radio crystal set and this became the foundation for an interest in electronics. Phillip's path has given him countless opportunities to learn and to teach during the last fourty years.

As a cadet with the NSW department of Public Works, he studied Science and Technology at the University of Sydney. This was followed by further studies in the UK and a Masterst degree in Engineering Science at the University of NSW. Philip applied his new knowledge in biomedical engineering to providing electromedical equipment for the new Westmead Hospital. He worked on the first electronic toll system for the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was the control systems engineer on the Accelerated Loading Facility.

Philip helped provide the first computer systems engineering labs at UTS and was employed there as both engineering manager and an academic to provide both teaching and practical engineering skills for students.

While at UTS Philip was a director for Autism Australia now Aspect and took an interest in supporting schools for Autistic children.

At the RTA Philip was engaged in Intelligent Transport Systems Projects (ITS) including the flashing lights at all schools zones in NSW, road safety pojects including the Lithgow black ice detection project, managed motorways, the new T-Way bus systems for Sydney and structural health and security monitoring projects including monitoring the Sydney Harbour Bridge for security threats.

Now retired, Philip is an active maker and mentor to other makers at the University of the Third Age ( u3a) and various Sydney Meetups including ozBerry, Sydney Robotics and Coding and Hack Sounds.

Philip's maker projects involve music, robotics, home automation, environmental monitoring, software engineering and electronics and he is interested in how people with disabilities such as autism and retired seniors can be creative as makers.

Philip exhibited his maker projects at the Sydney mini-maker faire last year. He is an alpha tester for new Seeed Products including reSpeaker and won two of their design competitions using reSpeaker and WioLink.

In the next hour or so, Marcus and I explore Philip's amazing engineering and learning experiences, and it was fascinating!

Episode notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Philip Mallon
[03:42] Philip talks about his background, his father's background, and the merging of his interests into Biomedical Engineering
[07:27] The early days of Biomedical Engineering
[10:17] The early use of computers in education
[12:00] Philip's mentorship experience: Apprenticeship in government sections
[13:07] Philip's work experience after graduation: Safety systems in intensive care wards
[16:02] Philip's process of figuring out what to do facing limited sources of information: Interacting with other experts
[17:30] Has Google replaced mentors? Overspecialization problem in engineering
[18:34] Risk reduction in high stake situations: Interaction between experts and teamwork
[20:22] New technologies in Biomedical Engineering: Linear Accelerators
[21:35] Philip's philosophy on learning and teaching
[22:49] Working with EMI: The profits from Beatles' record sales funded medical research
[24:10] EMI's engineer winning Nobel prize for inventing the CT scanner (Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield)
[24:32] Rapid development of technology: minicomputer, microcomputer
[26:01] Philip's mentor's unique hands-on approach during his Master's studies
[27:24] Conflict or collaboration between hands-off and hands-on approaches: Necessity of the right tools
[29:23] Nuclear Medicine Program
[31:12] Operating systems and software for Biomedical Engineering equipment
[32:36] Philip's teaching style and tools
[34:11] SCATS (Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System)
[37:14] What attracted Philip to Academia: UTS' new program in Computer System's Engineering
[39:33] Philip's first years lecturing in UTS and his experience with undergraduate students
[46:10] Reflective learning and its benefits for students
[50:33] The biggest challenge the students had to face according to Philip's experience: The language barrier and how to overcome it
[51:42] How would you go about as a teacher helping a student understand difficult concepts
[57:32] The matrix structure in UTS
[58:40] Rapid Fire Questions
[58:59] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you teach: Elizabeth Taylor, civil engineer from UTS
[01:01:58] Advice to educators just starting out: Inclusion and respect to everyone's prefered method of learning
[01:04:22] Parting thoughts, Dos and Don'ts: Make learning life-long and fun, start as early as possible
[01:08:15] Philip's Contact Information: Facebook: facebook.com/philip.mallon2

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