Lake Illawarra High School

A Positive Future for Every Student

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Dr Tom Dennis

Attended from 1974 to 1979

Tom Denniss


  • After leaving Lake Illawarra High School in 1979, having served that year as Student Council President, Tom obtained a degree in mathematics from the University of Wollongong and went on to teach at high school in the 1980s.


  • Continuing his studies concurrently, Tom obtained a First Class Honours degree and a PhD in Mathematics and Oceanography from the University of NSW. He then went on to work as a university lecturer and an investment banker, before moving full-time to developing his wave energy technology.


  • In 1997 Tom founded Oceanlinx, which has since become one of the world's leading wave energy companies. He did this to commercialise the technology he had invented. Tom served as the company's CEO for nine years, raising $15 million in venture capital in the process.


  • In 1999, the European Union's Independent Adviser on Wave Energy stated in writing that he believed the Oceanlinx technology would be the first to make wave energy commercially viable, and in 2006 the technology was named by the US-based International Academy of Science as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Technologies in the World. This award covers technologies of any type, not just energy technologies.


  • At an awards ceremony in Hawaii in 2007, Tom was the first person to be inaugurated into the International Ocean Energy Hall of Fame as an ocean energy pioneer.


  • In 2005 Tom was invited by Jeffrey Sachs (Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the United Nations) to be a member of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change, meeting twice a year in New York. Tom accepted this role and has served on the Roundtable the past three years. He was also invited to be a member of the International Energy Agency's Ocean Energy Systems Group, meeting twice each year in different locations around the world.


  • At the sporting level, in May of this year, Tom became the first person in the world to have run 100 metres in under 11 seconds AND 100 km in under 11 hours. Next April he will be running 1000 km from Melbourne to Sydney to raise money for cancer research.


  • After having made his first grade debut for the Warilla Gorillas at the age of 17 in 1978, Tom went on to be selected in 1982 for the NSW Country team to play City – the City team comprising a backline that included Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, Mick Cronin, and Eric Grothe Snr. Unfortunately Tom tore his hamstring in training only days before the match (perhaps this was fortunate, given Tom was due to mark Eric Grothe), and was replaced for the match by Phillip Duke, who was subsequently selected to play State of Origin for NSW two weeks later.


  • Tom also was a member of the first ever Lake Illawarra school rock band in 1977 (along with Paul Maccabei). Although predominantly a hobby, Tom has since continued to dabble in music, including having played to audiences in eight different countries.