Royal Academy of Engineering: 40 years on

Royal Academy of Engineering: 40 years on


Everything that wasn’t invented by God was
invented by an engineer.
The Academy started life in 1976 with the
support of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh
130 of the UK’s finest engineers were enrolled.
People who over the course of their careers
had literally changed the world. Engineers
like the jet engine visionary Frank Whittle,
bouncing bomb inventor Barnes Wallis, and
Lord Hinton who’d driven the UK’s supremacy
in nuclear power.
1976 saw some notable engineering milestones.
Concorde made its first commercial flight,
Apple launched the Apple-1 computer,
and the Viking 1 and 2 probes landed on Mars.
The Academy brings together the most
distinguished engineers in the UK.
It means you’re recognised as somebody who’s
made a very big impact in engineering and
as a senior voice in engineering, and also
as a role model that can help set the agenda
and the tone for others to follow.
I was always fascinated by things that moved,
by prime movers, by engines. I just became
interested in what made it all tick.
Before I was elected as a Fellow of the Academy,
I thought of the Academy like the leading
body for the engineering profession, speaking
with one voice for the engineering profession.
Within the Academy’s Fellowship are people
who really know how to turn ideas into reality and
that reality into jobs, into economic growth.
The Academy has grown steadily to undertake
a key role in policy advice whether its sustainable
energy policy, water resources, infrastructure,
or secure communications.
We are a national Academy but
we have a global outlook.
In our international activities we have many research and innovation programmes
which are aimed at growing emerging economies.
In sub-Saharan Africa we’re working with
universities and businesses, growing capability
in teaching, research and innovation.
If we look at what has been achieved through
phenomenal engineering innovations,
like, for example, the internet – it’s an engineering
innovation at heart, delivered by engineers,
and it’s transformed society. Our lives
are completely different now to the way they
used to be. That’s what engineers need to
be proud of.
Through the establishment of our Enterprise Hub
we bring together young entrepreneurs
and provide mentoring from within our Fellowship.
At the Enterprise Hub what we do is we work
with aspiring entrepreneur engineers – people
who want to take what they’ve built,
take what they’ve invented, and really go out
there and sell it.
Being part of the Hub has been incredible.
The mentorship, the access to all the experienced entrepreneurs
has given me the freedom to come out of the academic environment and start my business.
The Academy hosts the
Queen Elizabeth Prize Foundation –
an international, £1 million prize awarded every two years for a groundbreaking innovation
of benefit to humanity. It recognises
engineering excellence and is designed to
inspire the next generation of engineers.
In 2015 the prize reached a worldwide audience of
one-and-a-quarter billion people.
We’re trying to get people away from the
boots and hard hat image of engineering and
see it for what it is, which is providing
solutions to all of society’s problems.
Engineering’s ongoing role in shaping the
future and making the world a better place
relies on encouraging talented young people
to take up engineering careers. We put a lot
of effort in to promoting engineering to youngsters,
showing them what engineering’s all about
so that there will be a ready flow of young
people thinking of engineering careers. It’s
those young people that are our future.
The Royal Academy of Engineering came in to
help us make propellers. We tested them to
see how high they could go but mine didn’t
go very well!
In 40 years’ time I would see an Academy
that has much more influence. I’ll see an
Academy that’s doing many more things, with
more resource, and is making a bigger difference,
and I will see a society that has engineering
at its heart and recognises it.
If I was an engineer I’d do a lot of different
things. I’d create the rocket shoe!
Robot fairies.
Rainbow iPads.
I would like to see engineering helping in
finding the solution to big problems such as
energy and the environment.
We’re going to see a lot around space travel and space exploration.
In the future I would like to see the Academy become
the go-to place at the heart of the UK for
engineering.
I think the role of the Academy is to inspire
young people
and particularly attracting more girls into engineering.
It isn’t a male subject, it is a people subject.
I’m incredibly proud of everything the Academy
has achieved in its first 40 years and I’m
grateful to our Fellows, staff, and partners
and supporters across academia, business and
government who have worked with us to make
this happen. And I look forward to the next
40 years working together.

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