Legion of Honour

News Editor

This week’s focus is on who will win an array of prestigious awards recognising the people who have made the most singnificant advancements in engineering

This week’s Briefing is all about votes cast, votes pending and there isn’t a politician in sight.

The judging panel of the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering has decided on the winner – or indeed winners – of the biennial award and an announcement will be made to the press tomorrow.

Similar in ambition to the Technology Academy of Finland’s Millennium Technology Prize, the £1m international prize is awarded to an individual or team of up to three people – of any nationality – directly responsible for a groundbreaking innovation in engineering that is of global benefit to humanity.

The QEPrize was first won by a group of five engineers including Sir Tim-Berners Lee, who also won the Millennium Technology Prize in 2004. The remaining winners were made up of French engineer Louis Pouzin and Americans Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, whose work led to the protocols that enable the internet to work, and the American creator of the first web browser, Marc Andreessen.

Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering winner announcement.
(left to right) Lord Browne of Madingley announces Robert Kahn and Louis Pouzin, Winners. Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering winner announcement on 18 March 2013

Employer-led skills body Semta has named its shortlist for entries into its Hall of Fame and is asking engineers and the public alike to chose one candidate from five nominations to join the likes of George Stephenson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Dame Caroline Haslett and Sir Frank Whittle.

SEMTA’s five potential investees are:

Prof Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS, an authority on low noise aircraft and low emission power stations who has been head of the Cambridge University’s department of Engineering since 2009, and became the first female President of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014.

Mark Chapman, chief engineer of The Bloodhound Project, which is developing a super sonic that will attempt to smash the land speed record in 2016. This project – developing a car that can travel at 1,000mph – is also raising the profile of the engineering sector and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers through its schools programme.

Joel Gibbard is a robotics engineer and founder of Open Bionics. According to SEMTA, his invention of 3-D printed bionic hands provides an affordable, accessible alternative to expensive prosthetics with life-changing benefits for those would not normally be able to afford them.

Prof Máire O’Neill is one of Europe’s leading digital security experts. As Professor of Information Security at the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT), Queen’s University Belfast, she is the youngest ever Professor at the University and its first female Professor in electrical and electronic engineering.

Dr Dan Plant, a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow at Imperial College London, works in the field of advanced active materials and holds a number of high profile technical advisory roles and is the inventor of Armourgel. Armourgel, winner of the most innovative product award at Eurobike 2012, is a light, flexible material that absorbs shock on impact with multiple practical applications to reduce physical harm.

The poll closes on February 16 so click here to cast your vote.

The winner of this year’s vote will join the following illustrious engineers in the Engineering Hall of Fame: John Rennie (1761-1821), George Stephenson (1781-1848), Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891), Sir Benjamin Baker (1840–1907), Barnes Wallis (1887-1979), Sir John Ambrose Fleming (1848–1945), Dame Caroline Haslett (1895–1957), Verena Holmes (1889–1964), Sir Frank Whittle (1907–1996), and Sam Etherington (1990 – )

In publicity material, Ann Watson, Semta’s CEO said: Some people wrongly believe the best days of Great British engineering are behind us – we know that to be untrue.

‘Britain is still revered in the world of engineering and advanced manufacturing – we have the very brightest brains in the business doing extraordinary things for thousands of companies across the globe.’

Do you agree with Watson’s view? Let us know below.

IMechE is on the awards trail too and is calling for nominations for the 2015 Prestige Awards, which reward those who have advanced mechanical engineering with prizes up to £10,000.

The closing date for nominations for the 2015 Prestige Awards is 31 March 2015 with nominations considered by the Trustee Board Awards Committee in May.

Successful recipients will be notified at the end of June, and invited with a guest of their choice to a celebration in London in the autumn.

Nominations and queries can be made by calling +44 (0)1284 717887, emailing awards@imeche.org or by visiting the website.

Awards include the first Alastair Graham-Bryce Award, which is awarded to an individual or group ‘making a significant contribution to the encouragement of young people towards a career in engineering.’ The award is open to all IMechE members and non-members with a £5,000 prize and a trophy. More details can be found here.

The James Clayton Prize will be awarded to a member (or members) of the Institution who ‘contributes most in that year (or over recent years) to engineering science by research, invention, experimental work, a paper on a modern engineering subject, originality in engineering design or service to engineering.’

Further awards include the Verena Winifred Holmes Award (formerly the Equality and Diversity Award), and the Thomas Hawksley Gold Medal and George Stephenson Gold Medal, which are awarded for the best original papers published by the Institution in the past 12 months.

Finally, we move away from recognition via vote to decisions made by committee and news that the Airports Commission consultation closes on increasing the UK’s long-term aviation capacity.

The Commission sought views on the three short-listed options for a new runway in the south east of England – a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow, and an extension to the existing northern runway at Heathrow to operate as two separate runways – and on its assessments of these options.

The commission chaired by Howard Davies is expected to make its final recommendations in the summer after the General Election, having rejected the idea of an inner Thames Estuary hub airport backed by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Last week EEF published results of a survey that found manufacturers favouring additional capacity at the west London airport as it would be good for business and a better-balanced economy.

Key findings:

  • Four fifths of companies back Heathrow expansion vs Gatwick
  • Three quarters choose frequency of flights and range of destinations as key reasons
  • Strategic road access to Heathrow viewed as critical
  • Support across all regions, sector and company size
  • Half of companies with overseas subsidiaries say aviation critical to business
  • Export intensive companies view airport expansion as critical

More on this can be found on the MWP Advanced Manufacturing website by clicking here.