Fifth Rector


Appointment of Professor John Baird as the fifth Rector of the University College.


John Baird was born and raised in Brisbane. Following his matriculation, he spent five years as a stockman in the Northern Territory and Cape York. He then moved to Canberra and enrolled at the ANU where he studied science. After graduating with a BSc(Hons) and a PhD in Physics specialising in hypersonics, he was appointed Teaching Fellow in Mechanical Engineering at the UNSW Faculty of Military Arts, Duntroon where he taught courses in fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. In 1984, he transferred to the University College, Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). His research interests included hypersonics and the engineering applications of optical systems.

In the late 1980s, in partnership with a US wind tunnel manufacturer and a German energy company, Professor Baird was responsible for the design of the world's largest free piston shock tunnel facility (the HEG) for the German research organisation DLR, in Goettingen. The HEG became the key ground testing facility for the European Space Agency re-usable launch vehicle programs in the 1990s.

In 1990 he was promoted to Associate Professor and in 1991 he was appointed Head of the then Department of Mechanical Engineering at UNSW Canberra at ADFA. Over the following decade, Professor Baird led the introduction of the Aeronautical Engineering programs at the Academy. His research work included the use of holography to detect fatigue cracking in aircraft structures. This work received substantial funding from the Federal Aviation Administration of the USA.

In 2001, Professor Baird was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the ANU. Under his leadership, the Faculty expanded its postgraduate programs from one to five. These changes, together with a vigorous national and international marketing program, increased the number of international students in the faculty fourfold. At the same time, the Faculty staff numbers expanded by 70% and the Faculty's research income more than doubled.

Professor Baird was appointed as the Rector of the University of New South Wales, Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy on 20 September 2004, a position he held until his retirement in 2010.

Professor Baird is a Fellow of Engineers Australia.