Engineering a future through friendship and philanthropy: Roy Hardcastle & Harold Richards

The following article was originally published in the University of Melbourne Annual Giving Update 2010 which can be found at

Picture of Roy and HaroldThe Melbourne School of Engineering celebrates 150 years of engineering education at the University of Melbourne next year. For almost 50 years, Roy Hardcastle and Harold Richards have been major contributors to the School as educators and donors.

Engineers see themselves as problem solvers and innovators, and a vital way for engineering students to learn these skills is through links with industry. Since the 1960s, final year Engineering students at the University of Melbourne have undertaken design projects within the industry, an opportunity that gives them first-hand experience of how the engineering industry works.

Associate Professor Harold C. Richards AM and alumnus Mr Roy T. Hardcastle AO, through their consulting engineering firm Hardcastle & Richards Pty Ltd, have forged a formidable link between industry and the University by guiding students’ design projects over five decades.

‘It is this combination of philanthropy, passion, industry contribution and love of learning that has seen the School of Engineering thrive over its 150 years of history.’

‘Professor Francis at the University invited us in 1962 to participate in his students’ final year projects,’ recalls Harold. ‘I think this was an industry first.’

For Roy, an alumnus of the University of Melbourne and of RMIT University, and Harold, an alumnus of RMIT University, participating in the education of Civil and Environmental Engineering students and becoming involved in the curriculum of the faculty was a logical step. Later, Harold accepted an honorary appointment as Associate Professor. ‘It was a great honour to be asked,’ comments Harold. ‘It was one of the most important things that I have done – helping intelligent people and having the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to them.’

Over the years Harold and Roy have also been consistent donors to the School of Engineering. Harold has also donated to International House, while Roy is a former member of the University’s Committee of Convocation, and a regular attendee at Heritage Society events. Theirs is a track record of outstanding contribution to the University on many levels. Their passion for the University and their industry are undiminished after almost 50 years. ‘It’s our love of what we do that has kept us going,’ says Roy.

Both as educators and donors, Harold and Roy see their ongoing involvement with the University as a two-way street. ‘Somewhere along the line, someone will come up to us and say “You taught me structural engineering, I remember you gave me this.” And that is hugely rewarding,’ comments Roy. It is this combination of philanthropy, passion, industry contribution and love of learning that has seen the School of Engineering thrive. Today it is the oldest Engineering school in Australia with almost 25,000 alumni.

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