Daniel Bonatti embodies the ethos of lifelong learning, making the civil and structural engineer a jack of all trades and master of many.
Daniel Bonatti TFIEAust is one well-educated engineer. What began as a degree and career in civil engineering morphed into multi-specialisation, with more pursuits on the horizon.
As well as holding dual Master degrees — with postgraduate accolades in Design Science in Building Services and an MBA — Bonatti won the Prestigious University Medal for academic scholarship in construction at Western Sydney University after completing a Bachelor of Construction Management (Honours).
Further cementing him as an all-rounder was his move into architecture.
“I went to the University of Sydney to study steel design as continuing professional development, which led me to the architecture faculty where I studied further structural programs such as finite element meshes,” Bonatti told create.
“Architectural design has given me strong foundations in understanding strategy and planning rather than just calculations.”
With his commitment to paying it forward through knowledge sharing, it’s little wonder Bonatti clinched the Engineering Technologist of the Year award at the Engineers Australia Excellence Awards 2023.
Running a one-man shop
When he’s not taking on a new area of study, Bonatti busies himself running his own business, Leida Constructions — an accredited building certification and inspection consultancy.
“Education has given me the competencies to practise civil engineering, structural engineering, building services, leadership and management,” he said.
“I’ve got a hand in all the fields, including construction, architecture and design,” he said. “And if I’m only doing part of the work, I know what the other person is doing as well.”
His next focus is moving from building inspector to certification as a building surveyor, with Bonatti currently studying a Bachelor of Applied Leadership and Critical Thinking, and a Master of Building Surveying.
“I’m looking for employment with a senior building surveyor, private or council, to mentor me to sign off on large-scale commercial buildings,” he added.
Bonatti has been part of the fabric at Engineers Australia since 1989, first joining under the four-year free student membership, later becoming an Associate Member in 1994 and a Technologist Member in 2009.
Back in 2015 — when the National Engineering Register was created, allowing Engineering Technologists and Professional Engineers to feature on the same register — Bonatti was invited to partake in the Chartered engineer interview, which he parlayed into Fellow status.
“It took me almost two years to arrange the new application, receiving Technologist Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia,” he said.
A key element of the Fellow charter that stuck with Bonatti is ‘Fellows shall support the next generation of engineers’, which drives him to engage with numerous non-profit organisations.
A highlight is his five-year involvement with Engineers Without Borders (EWB).
“I commenced in Western Sydney University EWB Club as the inter-university delegate, volunteering to arrange the Humanitarian Engineering Conference with like-minded people from other universities,” he said.
Bonatti grew within the organisation, becoming Vice President in 2020, President from 2021–2022 and NSW Region Secretary and NSW Region Vice President in 2021, and NSW Region interim President from August 2022–February 2024.
His work with EWB spanned involvement in school and youth outreach, leading STEM activities, and acting as a design and built environment ambassador.
“The motivation to lead had me join various committees on campus, and I enhanced my governance and leadership skills through these many roles,” he explained.
But volunteering has long been a passion for Bonatti, commencing at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 in the media centres of IBM and Xerox, and for the Olympic Roads and Transport Authority (ORTA).
“I followed this with volunteer work at the Paralympics in 2000, Special Olympics in 2013 and the International Children’s Games in 2014,” he said. “Using my engineering background, I did all sorts of things, from supervising to mentoring to marshalling.”
Nominations for the 2024 Excellence Awards open in April — learn more here.