David enrolled at Caboolture State High School in 1964 and completed Senior in 1966, when he was named as an Open Scholar for being in the top 25 students in the state. David was awarded a Bachelor of Engineering with First Class Honours from the University of Queensland in 1971. He then completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering in the same institution in 1976, in the field of signal processing applied to target recognition using radar signals. His early career was involved with the development of instrumentation for experimental physics research at the University of Queensland, supporting ionospheric, environmental, particle and geophysics research programs.
In 1991 he joined the CSIRO Division of Geomechanics, where his activities in mining automation research commenced with the development of the Numbat mine emergency reconnaissance vehicle. Over the ensuing years he led and developed a research group in mining automation which has delivered a number of significant outcomes to the coal mining industry including dragline, continuous miner, and longwall automation technologies. In his current role as Research Program Leader, he manages 120 researchers who work on CSIRO’s mining projects.