Julian O’Shea is a social entrepreneur and humanitarian engineer who is passionate about education and technology for social change. He is the Founder and CEO of Unbound (formerly Laika Academy). He has a strong drive to create education programs that are more relevant, globally focussed and support students to solve questions where the answer doesn’t exist on Google. He says:
"Starting something new is never easy – but it’s a challenge I love. As counter-intuitive as it sounds – it’s often easier to do big things than do small things. People are more likely to get excited and help out if you’re looking to do something really interesting or inspiring. So go big."
Julian's background is working with Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB), an international development NGO, where he was the Director of the EWB Institute and headed up the organisation’s university engagement programs. In this role, he created a range of programs to engage researchers and students with poverty alleviation and sustainable development projects. These included the Regioneering Roadshow – a science and engineering education outreach program to rural, remote and Aboriginal communities; the Humanitarian Design Summit program – an overseas practical design study tour for engineering students; and the Journal of Humanitarian Engineering – an open source, peer-reviewed academic journal. His work in education program design, saw him recently named one of Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers by Creative Magazine.
He is an inaugural Westpac Social Change Fellow, a travel and professional development fellowship that will see him visit with world-leading programs in Asia, Europe, Africa and America.
Outside of work he loves adventure travel and has visited over 100 countries and once set a Guinness World Record for a 3,700+ km rail journey across China.
Julian has an engineering background, and for five years headed up education and research projects in the not-for-profit sector as the Director of the Engineers Without Borders Institute. This work was excellent grounding in learning about innovative approaches in higher education, and in leading social innovation projects. His big idea that jumpstarted Unbound was that all the important global challenges – from earthquake reconstruction to climate change to sustainable development – need multi-disciplinary input, so building education programs that span faculties is a great start.
Julian is delighted to be surrounded by some really supportive communities and groups that have become supportive and great sources of knowledge and ideas. He's a big fan of peer mentorship and learning from people at a similar stage of development.
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