Plenary Speakers


Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts AM, CSC


Head Aerospace Systems Division,
Capability and Acquisition Group, Department of Defence

Cath Roberts joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1983 to study Aerospace Engineering. She graduated from No 28 Course Engineering Cadet Squadron in 1986.

AVM Roberts completed her first posting as a maintenance engineering officer supporting flight test on CT4, PC-9, DC-3, Iroquois, Squirrel, Blackhawks, Mirage, Macchi, and F111s at the Aircraft Research and Development unit. She was posted to Support Command as a logistics engineer during the introduction of the F/A-18 Classic Hornet, and was responsible for a technical program to recover the Macchi MB326 aircraft post a wing failure in flight. AVM Roberts was then posted as flightline and maintenance manager on F/A-18 Hornet aircraft at No 77 and No 481 Squadrons, followed by a posting to the UK for the Hawk Lead In Fighter project. AVM Roberts remained in the UK until the introduction of the Hawk into RAAF service in 2000.

After completing a Masters of Management at the Joint Command and Staff Course in 2001, AVM Roberts was posted to the Airworthiness Coordination and Policy Agency. In this role she received a Conspicuous Service Cross for her work in ADF airworthiness oversight of introduction of major aviation capabilities, establishing ADF operational airworthiness regulations and developing new airworthiness frameworks for charter and unmanned aircraft.

In 2005 AVM Roberts was posted as the Assistant Air Force Adviser in London managing RAAF members embedded in operations and facilitating exchange of information with UK military, European military and commercial organizations. From 2007 until 2010 AVM Roberts commanded the Systems Program Offices for F/A-18 Hornet and then for B300 and PC9.
In 2011 she completed the Royal College of Defence Studies course in London studying International Policy and Strategy. On return to Australia, AVM Roberts was posted to Director Enabling Capability in Air Force Head Quarters. AVM Roberts then took over as Program Manager for the F-35 Lightning achieving Government program approval in April 2014 and introduction of the first two Australian aircraft into service in Dec 2014. In 2015 AVM Roberts saw the acceptance of the first Australian Growler and took responsibility for materiel acquisition and sustainment of Growler, Super Hornet, Classic Hornet and Hawk Lead-in Fighter.
In March 2016 AVM Roberts was appointed to her current post of Head Aerospace Systems Division responsible for acquisition and sustainment of all fixed wing Aerospace capabilities She was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her exceptional service in the fields of aerospace acquisition and sustainment.
AVM Roberts and her husband Stuart have two school age children. Her interests include travelling, skiing, Aussie Rules and fishing; all enjoyed with her family.

MAJGEN Andrew Mathewson, AM


Head Helicopter Systems Division

Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group,

Department of Defence

Major General Andrew Mathewson joined the Army as an Apprentice Fitter and Turner in 1980. Early postings following graduation from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1987 were predominately technical, working in engineering, integrated logistics support and test and evaluation on land weapons and armoured vehicle systems. He has extensive experience in materiel acquisition and sustainment through a range of major projects including Bushranger Protected Mobility Vehicle, Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and the Taipan Multi-Role Helicopter.

Major General Mathewson has served as the Director General Army Aviation Systems, on exchange in the UK’s Headquarters Land Command, in Joint Logistics Command, Army Headquarters and as a military attaché within the Australian High Commission, London.

Major General Mathewson has completed a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (1st Class Honours), a Master of Business Administration (Technology Management), a Master of Science (Defence Technology) and a Master of Defence Studies. In 2015 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia.

Major General Mathewson is currently the Head Helicopter Systems Division and is responsible for the acquisition and support of Defence’s helicopter and tactical unmanned aerial systems fleets.


Professor Phil Webb, Cranfield University, UK

phil-webb-photoProfessor Phil Webb is the head of the Centre for Structures, Assembly and Intelligent Automation at Cranfield University where he holds a Royal Academy of Engineering and Airbus Chair. He has over 25 years’ experience of research into advanced technologies for airframe and aero-engine assembly. He is a member of the SAE Automated Assembly and Fastening Committee and the Council of the British Automation and Robotics Association and has served as the UK representative to the International Federation for Robotics He has worked with most of the major Aerospace companies including Airbus, BAE Systems, Bombardier, Rolls-Royce and GKN and published over 80 papers in the field.




Pro Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nick Lieven

lieven-photoProfessor Nick Lieven is Pro Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Aircraft Dynamics. Previously he was the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education, followed by Pro Vice-Chancellor for International. In August 2015, he took on the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor for Strategy. He was awarded his first degree in Acoustics and Vibration from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research in Southampton (1982-1986) and then went to Imperial College London and gained a PhD in Mechanical Engineering supported by Rolls-Royce (1986-1990). He stayed at Imperial College as a lecturer before joining Airbus on a Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellowship, then taking up a lectureship at Bristol University. He was made a professor and Head of Aerospace Engineering in 2002 and became Dean of Engineering in 2007. He is visiting professor at the Los Alamos National Laboratories in the US and was the founding director of the AgustaWestland University Technology Centre in Rotorcraft Vibration which maps onto his continued research interests.


Air Commodore James Hood, Director General for the Defence Aviation Safety Authority, Australia

james-hood-photoGAICD CPPD FCDSS FIEAust CPEng EngExec APEC Engineer
BEng(Hons), MCorpLship, MEng(Dist), MBA, MCommLaw

Air Commodore James Hood – better known as ‘Hoody’ – is the Director General for the Defence Aviation Safety Authority in Australia.  Over the last thirty years, he has worked in both Defence and the commercial sector, gaining extensive experience in the fields of:
– Engineering Leadership and Management
– Corporate governance, law and strategy
– Business reform and innovation
– Capital acquisition, sustainment and project management
– Aviation safety, regulation and certification

Notably, Air Commodore Hood’s career includes many senior engineering roles in the acquisition and sustainment of Defence aircraft, for which he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2008 for outstanding achievement in the field of capital acquisition.

He holds postgraduate qualifications in the fields of engineering, corporate strategy, business administration and commercial law; he is a member of various professional bodies; and he Chairs and participates in various Councils / Committees / Boards to promote aviation safety outcomes.

Above all things, Air Commodore Hood is a strong advocate for the new Defence Aviation Safety Regulations in Australia and he is an active champion of the emerging international convention in military airworthiness regulation.

Research 1

Dr. Alex Zelinskyalex-zelinsky_photo

Dr Alex Zelinsky was appointed Chief Defence Scientist and head of Defence Science and Technology Organisation (now Defence Science and Technology Group) in March 2012.
Before joining Defence he was Group Executive for Information Sciences at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Director of CSIRO’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Centre.
Dr Zelinsky was Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Seeing Machines, a high-technology company developing computer vision systems. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a start-up from the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, where Dr Zelinsky was Professor of Systems Engineering.
Dr Zelinsky researched in robotics and computer vision at the AIST Electrotechnical Laboratory in Japan and has taught and conducted research in computer science at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia. He started his career as a Systems Engineer with BHP Steel International.
Dr Zelinsky has extensively advised Federal and State governments in Australia, including as a member of the Australian Government’s Defence Industry Innovation Board. He has served on the advisory panels to the Australian Research Centre (ARC) Centre for Vision Science, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Autonomous Systems and currently the ARC Centre of Excellence for Robotic Vision.
Dr Zelinsky completed his Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Wollongong, NSW.
In 2009, Engineers Australia named Dr Zelinsky Professional Engineer of the Year (Sydney Division) and he has been included in Engineers Australia’s list of the 100 most influential engineers since that year. He subsequently received the Engineers Australia M A Sargent Medal 2015 – the most prestigious award made by the College of Electrical Engineers. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Pearcey Medal, the ICT industry’s premier prize for lifetime achievement.

Industry 2: Unmanned Aircraft

Doug Davis

Director, Office of Independent Airworthiness
Engineering and Global Product Development
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems


Doug Davis is Director, Office of Independent Airworthiness, Engineering and Global Product Development at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, a premier provider of manned and unmanned aircraft, space systems and advanced technologies critical to our nation’s security.
In this role, Doug leads all aspects of airworthiness support across all divisions of the company’s Aerospace Systems sector. He is responsible for flight certification for all manned and unmanned aircraft programs. Doug is an established global influencer with broad industry expertise, technical breadth and strong leadership skills in driving airworthiness policies, balancing risks with cost, auditing airworthiness requirements during the capture/proposal phase and conducting independent reviews.
Doug began his aviation career in 1984 as an FAA air traffic controller at the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).  He completed staff time in Traffic Management, Military Operations, and Airspace and Procedures and served as a first-line supervisor at the Atlanta ARTCC before moving to FAA HQ in Washington DC in 1997.   He served as the manager of Enroute Procedures in Air Traffic before going on to be the Special Assistant to the Associate Administrator for Air Traffic Services.   After the events of 9/11, Doug was asked to serve as the FAA Liaison to HQ NORAD in Colorado Springs, CO. which he did for 3 years.  He was then selected to return to FAA HQ and chosen as the Assistant Manager, Avionics Systems in Aircraft Certification, and was subsequently picked to be the Aircraft Certification Lead for Unmanned Aircraft.  In 2005, he was selected as the first manager to stand-up, organize, and lead the newly created Unmanned Aircraft Program Office.  Doug crafted the initial certification and operational guidance that is primarily still in use by the FAA
Doug left the FAA in 2009 and then spent over 4 years with NMSU/PSL as the Director, Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Strategic Initiatives for the New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory. He served as the technical advisor to the chairman of EUROCAE WG-73, created and led an independent, international team of UAS and airspace subject matter experts called the Global Airspace Integration Team and still leads the UAS Workgroup for the Civil Air Navigation Service Organization (CANSO), Co-Chairs the CANSO Collaborative Airspace Working Group, where he was also asked to serve as the CANSO representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization UAS Study Group, and now the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) Panel.  Doug was recently elected to the CANSO Operations Steering Committee and leads the AIA UAS Committee.
Doug holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California Pacific University and completed coursework at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.



Space Programs


Dr Jason Held

PhD, Aerospace and Mechatronics, 2008, University of Sydney

BSc, Computer Science, 1993, Virginia Military Institute




Prior to founding Saber Astronautics, Dr. Held was a US Army Major and Army Space Support Team leader for USSTRATCOM (formerly Space Command) and deployed internationally in support of military space missions. Dr. Held was a lead instructor at the Interservice Space Fundamentals Course and a guest engineer at Army Space and Missile Command Battle Lab. He conducted flight software engineering for the Wide Field Camera 3 of the Hubble Space Telescope and testing for the International Space Station. He also conducted verification and validation testing for an invasive class II medical device currently in market. Dr. Held was twice a guest instructor for the University of Stuttguart’s IRS Space Station Design Workshop and led a research expedition in the high Canadian Arctic. He also co-founded the Delta-V Spacehub Startup Acellerator. At the University of Sydney, he founded the space engineering laboratory, providing leadership for the university CubeSat project and Australia’s first premix rocket engine.