The Secret Engineer
The presence of Ron Ayers - one of the UK’s most celebrated engineers - on this year’s honours list is cause for celebration writes our anonymous blogger
Christmas has passed and I thought that the last of the presents had been received but, with the announcement of the New Year’s Honours, another has dropped into our laps. I am of course referring to Ron Ayers being awarded an MBE. The fact that his engineering exploits have been so publicly recognised can only reflect well on all of us, although if you take a look at the reports in the popular media then you may be forgiven for thinking that only hair dressers, luvvies and MPs with a penchant for putting in claims have been honoured. Dig deeper though and you will find that 18 engineers (or people involved with engineering) have in fact received some form of recognition.
Of course the other recipients from within our ranks are equally worthy so why, you may ask, pick out the redoubtable Mr Ayers? I have had the great honour of meeting him a few times and can tell you that he is what is known as “a thoroughly decent cove”, but this is not reason enough! It is because he has been recognised for exploits that reside at the very core of our profession. Those who run large or influential companies are no less deserving but their qualities as engineers are deployed in a more subtle way. Most of us have to possess universal skills that are found in many professions to varying degrees, but what makes us stand apart from accountants or lawyers is the practical application of our creativity.
As, I assume, the MBE has been awarded primarily for his involvement in the design and development of Thrust SSC, Diesel Max and the Bloodhound land speed record cars this is surely the clearest indicator to the up and coming generations that a career in engineering can in fact lead to recognition and a high standing in society?
Therefore I suggest that we make the most of this opportunity and use it to spread the word. Bloodhound is being run as an educational project anyway but there’s plenty of stuff on line to illustrate what he has done.
Aside from all that, if you just want to stand taller at dinner parties all you need to do is target some boor banging on about “how terrible it is that x got a gong for cleaning the PM’s windows” or “wonderful that y off that programme got one because she’s terribly funny” and butt in with “well at least Ron Ayres has finally received due recognition.” Then for once you can hold the floor and with some pride talk up your own contribution to society as an engineer, referencing projects they should all at least be vaguely aware of and relying on the reflected glow to derail any negative comments. Its certainly a gambit I intend to employ – thanks Ron (MBE).