The Edward Brown Award is an annual, University-wide teaching award that recognises overall teaching excellence in any of the following, or related, fields: Architecture; Engineering; and Economics, Commerce and Business.
Recipients are acknowledged for their outstanding achievements across the various elements that constitute excellence in teaching in higher education: the inspiration and motivation they provide students; their contribution to the development of curricula and teaching and learning resources; the high quality practice in assessment of student learning; their respect for students as individuals; and the various ways in which their scholarly activities have influenced and enhanced learning and teaching.
About Edward Brown
Associate Professor Edward Brown was a founding academic in the University’s Department of Electrical Engineering.
Brown was born in Strathdownie, Victoria, in 1880, and died in Melbourne in 1966 at the age of 85. He was awarded his first degree at the University, a Bachelor of Science, in 1902, followed by a Master of Science in 1911, a Doctor of Science in 1926 and, finally, a Doctor of Engineering (honoris causa) in 1961.
Following his graduation from the Bachelor of Science degree in 1902, Brown headed abroad to work at the General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York. Upon his return to Australia in 1908, he commenced lecturing in mathematics and physics at the University. In 1911, a separate degree course of Bachelor of Electrical Engineering was established and with its introduction Brown was appointed to teach the necessary material.
Brown, or Eddy Brown as he was more affectionately known, was seen as a good choice for the job as he had a background in scientific teaching and research as well as in professional engineering practice from his days at the General Electric Co. Brown was both a keen researcher and successful inventor particularly in the field of instrumentation associated with power electrical engineering.
From 1913 to 1947 a steady stream of electrical engineers, 228 in total, graduated under the guidance of Brown and the distinctive nature of electrical engineering began to emerge under the influence of his leadership, personality and experience. His teaching style gave emphasis to practical application and bench demonstrations, which, for that time, was considered highly innovative. He preferred to motivate the students by talking about the interesting things he was doing in the way of research and invention. Typically, he would start a lecture on some topic and then with his trademark comment “I have an interesting problem which has just come up”, talk enthusiastically about that problem and its possible solution for the remainder of the time. His lasting legacy to his students was to instil in them the habit of self-education. Brown was highly popular amongst the student body as well as highly respected amongst the University’s academic community, where his standing can be judged by the fact that he subsequently received the degrees of Doctor of Science for his scientific research achievements and Doctor of Engineering honoris causa for his contribution to engineering and engineering teaching.
(This biography contains excerpts from ‘The First 50 Years – The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering University of Melbourne 1947-1997’ by John S. Packer.)