Four researchers from the University of Cambridge are among the leading figures in engineering and technology elected as Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Professors Holger Babinsky, Andrea Ferrari, Rob Miller and Rachel Oliver have been elected in this year’s intake, which consists of 60 Fellows, four International Fellows and five Honorary Fellows, with each individual having made exceptional contributions to their sectors in their own way, as innovation leaders, inspiring role models, or through remarkable achievements in business or academia.
Professor Holger Babinsky is Professor of Aerodynamics in the Department of Engineering and a Fellow of Magdalene College. He researches fundamental and applied aerodynamics with application to aeronautics, road vehicles and energy production.
“I am delighted to receive this remarkable honour and feel very lucky to be recognised by my peers for doing something I love,” said Babinsky. “I am also truly grateful to the University, the Engineering Department and all my colleagues and students for providing the environment and support that allowed me to grow as a researcher and educator.”
Professor Andrea Ferrari is Professor of Nanotechnology in the Department of Engineering. He is Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre and of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Graphene Technology, and a Fellow of Pembroke College.
“The Cambridge Graphene Centre allows our partners to meet, and effectively establish joint industrial-academic activities to promote innovative and adventurous research with an emphasis on applications,” said Ferrari. “It is often at the interface between academia and industry that new challenges for fundamental research are generated. I am pleased the Royal Academy of Engineering has recognised the translational potential of our work and I see this as a further encouragement to develop state of the art facilities that will lead to world-class research, technology and innovation.”
Professor Rob Miller is Professor of Aerothermal Technology in the Department of Engineering. He is Director of the Whittle Laboratory and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College. Much of the research of the Whittle Laboratory is geared toward solving one of technology’s biggest puzzles: how to achieve zero-carbon flight.
“I am deeply grateful to all the colleagues and students that I have worked with, especially at the Whittle Laboratory and at Rolls-Royce, without whose support this would not have been possible,” said Miller. “Throughout my career I have benefited from working closely with industry. I believe that it is only through these partnerships, between industry and academia, that engineers can meet society’s greatest challenge, climate change.”
Professor Rachel Oliver is Professor of Materials Science in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, Director of the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride and a Fellow of Robinson College. When she’s not making atomic-scale changes to create super-efficient light bulbs and cut carbon emissions, she has her sights set on helping to improve equality and diversity in science.
“It’s fantastic that the Academy engages with everything from the nanoscale materials engineering, which is my focus, all the way up to the much grander scale of wind turbines and jet engines,” said Oliver. “All of these varied aspects of engineering are hugely important for sustainability, which is a big current focus for the Academy. I’m also looking forward to having the opportunity to engage with the work the Academy does to increase equity in the engineering profession, since I’m passionate about making fascinating and fulfilling careers in engineering accessible to the widest possible range of talented people.”
This year’s new Fellows are the first to reflect the Academy’s Fellowship Fit for the Future initiative announced in July 2020, to drive more nominations of outstanding engineers from underrepresented groups ahead of its 50th anniversary in 2026. This initiative will see the Academy strive for increased representation from women, disabled and LGBTQ+ engineers, those from minority ethnic backgrounds, non-traditional education pathways and emerging industries, and those who have achieved excellence at an earlier career stage than normal.
These new Fellows will be admitted to the Academy, which comprises nearly 1,700 distinguished engineers, at its AGM on 22 September. In joining the Fellowship, they will add their capabilities to the Academy’s mission to create a sustainable society and an inclusive economy for all.
Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “Our Fellows represent the best of the best in the engineering world, and we welcome these 69 excellent and talented professionals to our community of businesspeople, entrepreneurs, innovators and academics.
“This year’s new Fellows are the most diverse group elected in the history of our institution. The engineering profession has long suffered from a diversity shortfall and the Academy is committed to changing that, including by ensuring that our own Fellowship community is as inclusive as it can be. It is well established that diverse organisations tend to be more agile and more innovative, and as the UK’s National Academy for engineering and technology, we have a responsibility to reflect the society we serve in addressing the shared challenges of our future.”