Peter Robinson, interviewed by Tom Spurling and Terry Healy, 12 November 2018

By September 11th, 2018

Edited transcript (PDF – 513 KB)

Interview summary

Peter Robinson was born in Cheshire, England on 21 May 1935. In the first part of the interview, he talks about his experiences growing up in wartime and post-war Wales. He benefitted from the progressive social policies of the Attlee Government, in particular to the access it gave him to a sound secondary education. He talks about his tertiary education at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire and the influence this had on his career in research and education.

He recalls fondly his first experience in Australia. He had applied for a position with John Lysaghts, thinking that it was in their Cardiff operation, only to find that the job was in Newcastle, New South Wales! He went from there to a post-doctoral position at MIT, thinking that he would obtain a career position in a US manufacturing company. However, a meeting with Dr Walter Boas, then Chief of the CSIRO Division of Tribophysics, led to him returning to Australia to work for CSIRO.

He talks in detail about his first period at CSIRO, and in particular, how he developed close links to Australia’s major metal mining and manufacturing companies.

Peter left CSIRO in 1980 to work for Metal Manufacturers Australia. He gives great insight into challenges of working in the branch of a large multinational company. He also discusses his interactions with CSIRO during this time.

Peter returned to CSIRO in 1990 as the Chief of the Division of Manufacturing Technology after being approached to fill other roles in the Organisation. He describes his achievements in that position and his reasons for serving only one five year term.

In the final part of the interview, Peter talks about his time as the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wollongong and his post-retirement activities.


Interview conducted by Tom Spurling and Terry Herry and recorded at CSIRO Data61 (Sydney) on 12 November 2018 as part of the CSIRO History Project.


Copyright owned by Swinburne University of Technology and CSIRO. Some re-use permitted (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND)