Talent 2030

Royal Academy of Engineering Council nominates its first female President!

As published by the Royal Academy of Engineering

Ann Dowling W3 carousel

The Council of the Royal Academy of Engineering has nominated Professor Dame Ann Dowling FREng FRS, Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, as its Presidential candidate for election by Fellows at the September 2014 AGM. Upon election by the Fellowship, Dame Ann would become the Academy’s first female President and serve a term of five years.

A world authority on combustion and acoustics, Dame Ann became a Cambridge research fellow in 1977 and has remained at the university ever since, including visiting research posts at MIT in 1999 and Caltech in 2001. In 1993, she became the Department of Engineering’s first ever female professor. In 2002, she was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, receiving a CBE for services to Mechanical Engineering, and again in the 2007 in the New Year’s Honours List when she received a DBE for services to science. In 2011, she was awarded a UK Resource Centre award for her ‘Inspiration and Leadership in Academia and Research’.

Dame Ann started her career as a mathematician but always wanted to pursue applied mathematics and did her PhD in engineering acoustics with Prof John Ffowcs Williams FREng, who led pioneering noise-reduction research on Concorde. She now leads research on efficient, low emission combustion for aero and industrial gas turbines and low noise vehicles, particularly aircraft and cars.

Her work in aeronautics and energy has been recognised by fellowships of the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, and foreign associate membership of both the US National Academy of Engineering and the French Academy of Sciences.

Dame Ann led the Cambridge MIT Silent Aircraft project, which published its radical new design concept SAX-40 in 2006 with the aim of raising aircraft industry aspirations.

She also chaired the agenda-setting and widely respected joint Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering report Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties, published in 2004, which highlighted the need for responsible regulation and research around the use of materials at an extremely small scale – only a few millionths of a millimetre.

Dame Ann is a non-executive director of BP, a panel chair for the Research Excellence Framework and was nominated in BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour power list 2013 as one of the 100 most influential women in the country.

Academy President Sir John Parker GBE FREng says: “I am delighted that Dame Ann has been nominated for election as the next President of this Academy. Her wide research and policy expertise and her leadership of the engineering department of one of the world’s top universities will be a great asset to the Academy in the years to come.”

Dame Ann says: “I am honoured to be nominated for election as President of the UK’s national academy of engineering at a crucial time when it is generally acknowledged that many more engineers will be required to help the country benefit from the knowledge economy of the future. The world faces some enormous challenges, including clean energy, resilient infrastructure, water and food supply, and engineers have a crucial role in addressing these issues.”

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