Oral History NSW
Giving Voice to the Past
Giving Voice to the Past

Acoustic engineer Louis Challis recognised in Engineering Heritage Sydney OH program

by | July 1, 2017

Louis Challis – brilliant acoustic engineer

Louis Challis AM, who had a reputation as Australia's leading acoustical engineer, spent his life making unwanted noise and vibration inaudible and making good noise crystal clear. He provided outstanding acoustical designs and advice for some of Australia's most important and prestigious buildings. Louis recently passed away and one of his legacies was an interview recorded under Engineering Heritage Sydney’s oral history program.

The program was conducted from 1991 to 2006 and recorded the personal history, experiences, knowledge and accomplishments of 194 eminent engineers. Thanks to the program we now have firsthand accounts from people such as the designer of the AMP Tower; developers of the first major wind tunnels and computers in Australia; the designer of sand and gravel pumps sold worldwide; consulting engineers who established well-known practices; a man who worked with Freysinnet - the inventor of pre-stressed concrete before the technique came to Australia; major players in projects including the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme, the Eastern Suburbs Railway, government engineering authorities and large construction companies; the Australian chemical engineer who was awarded the US Medal of Freedom for his service in tropical warfare; engineers involved in establishing and managing the Australian Atomic Energy Commission's Research Establishment at Lucas Heights; leading academics in various fields including architectural and design science and so on.

The tapes from the program together with documents associated with the interviews were all donated to the State Library of NSW where the tapes have since been digitised.

Unfortunately, funding for the program ceased in 2006. However, engineer oral history programs are still being conducted in Newcastle, some other states and by Engineering Heritage Australia.

Read the Sydney Morning Herald obituary for Louis Challis here.


                                                Louis Challis, 2007. Photo: Brendan Esposito, Sydney Morning Herald.

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