Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame

News from IESIS

8 November 2012 IESIS supports Arkwright Scholarships Trust

The IESIS Council decided last year to sponsor a candidate for a period of two years for the Arkwright Scholarship Trust. The Arkwright Scholarships Trust administers one of the most prestigious scholarship schemes in the UK. The Scholarships hope to inspire future leaders in engineering and related areas of design. This is done by awarding Arkwright Engineering Scholarships, through a rigorous selection process, to high-calibre students in Year 11 (S4 in Scotland). The Engineering Scholarships support students through their A Levels / Scottish Highers and encourage students to pursue engineering or related areas of design at university or through a high-quality apprenticeship and to take up careers in the field. The Engineering Scholarships are sponsored by industrial companies, universities, charitable trusts, trade associations, professional engineering institutions, the Armed Services and personal donors.

The student selected for the £2000 IESIS sponsorship is Andrew Witherspoon of Stewart's Melville College in Edinburgh. Andrew has shown both academic flair and practical skills. IESIS President Iain MacLeod attended the Awards Ceremony in Glasgow to congratulate Andrew as the first holder of the IESIS Arkwright Scholarship.

The Scholarships were awarded to the new Scholars in Glasgow by Professor Peter Grant OBE FREng, Emeritus Regius Professor of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Peter Grant said: "UK universities offer a world-class education in engineering. We need to attract the highest calibre of talent, from all backgrounds, to ensure that our universities continue to produce the best professional engineers of tomorrow. I am delighted to award these Arkwright Engineering Scholarships which identify high-ability school pupils who have a serious interest in studying engineering."

Arkwright's National Director, Dr Martin Thomas, commented: "Our Glasgow and London Awards Ceremonies represent the pinnacle of the Arkwright year. It has been fantastic to meet the new Scholars and to hear of their personal achievements. It has also been incredibly rewarding to see our Alumni return to the Awards Ceremony to demonstrate their successful industrial careers to the new Scholars. They are the proof that Arkwright has an impact on these young people's lives".

25 September 2012 Iain MacLeod inaugurated as President of the Institution for 2012-2014

Iain MacLeod graduated BSc in Civil Engineering in 1960 and PhD in 1966 both at the University of Glasgow University. In the early part of his career he held posts of: Structural Engineer with Crouch and Hogg in Glasgow, Structural Engineer with H A Simons Ltd in Vancouver Canada, Design Research Engineer at the Portland Cement Association in Chicago, USA, Assistant Lecturer and later Lecturer at Glasgow University. In 1973 at the age of 33 he was appointed Head of Department of Civil Engineering at what was then Paisley College of Technology and in 1981 moved to the University of Strathclyde as Professor of Structural Engineering. He held this post until his retirement and is now an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering.

His early research work was concerned with structural analysis of tall buildings where the then just emerging computer technology allowed major developments in this area. His text book Modern Structural Analysis, published in 2005, promotes the principle that the dominant problem in structural analysis has moved from being how to perform the calculations to that of how to control them. This needs new attitudes and new techniques - described in the book - that are starting to be adopted. This does not mean that hand calculations are obsolete. In his presidential address he showed how a simple 'back of an envelope' calculation could have averted the $700m loss of a concrete oil platform.

He was a very active member of the Institution of Structural Engineers including: Scottish Branch Chairman 1988, Vice-President of the Institution in 1991 and a member of the Standing Committee for Structural Safety 1990-99.

Over the years, his research work covered a range of topics including: fire engineering, design of masonry buildings and performance monitoring of structures. In the 1990s he was involved in the development of a computer system for construction information that had many of the features that we now use on the internet - it was overtaken by the internet.

In computing in the 1980s a Big Idea was that human intelligence could be simulated on the computer to help to improve engineering design. This was Artificial Intelligence (AI). It became apparent that many features of human intelligence were not capable of being modelled on the computer but the work on AI carried out by Iain MacLeod and his colleagues at Strathclyde during the period 1985 - 2000 did help to build a foundation for what is now called Building Information Modelling (BIM) which is becoming a major feature of the processes used in the construction industry. Another important outcome of this work has been a better understanding of the design process.

In 2006 our new President presented a paper to IESIS on '150 years of engineering education in Scotland'. He showed how, in the 19th century, engineering degrees in the UK were established in the UK as an education in engineering science and not in engineering practice. He suggested that this has 'cast a long dark shadow' over engineering education in the 20th century but that we are now starting to move away from this paradigm. Learning about practice should be at the heart of engineering education. He believes that we need to identify how the top professional engineers are able to create success out of complex uncertainty and show students how it is done. In his presidential address he suggested that this may be characterised as a 'holistic approach' that involves using a wide range of methods and principles to seek to reduce the uncertainty. Holistic thinking is a main attribute of the top professional engineers.

He also says that professional engineers are too modest about their achievements. The general standard of outcomes in professional engineering in the UK is very high and at the top level it is superb. That this is so needs to be trumpeted from the rooftops.

In recent years he has chaired 2 working groups of IESIS: the Energy Strategy Group that promotes the principle that a systems approach to energy planning is very badly needed and the Professional Engineering Group that promotes the principle that professional engineering is an excellent career for young people. His presidential address can be downloaded here

14th April 2012 Titanic Memorial Service

When ships go down, engineers always reflect on the likelihood of death, rather than the possibility of escape. It's a reflection of the hazardous nature of the engineers' work. They are the unsung heroes in the bowels of the ship when disaster strikes.

On 14th April 2012, IESIS held a memorial service for 36 of the engineers who lost their lives when the RMS Titanic sank on the evening of 14th/15th April 1912. The names of the engineers are commemorated on a marble and bronze tablet by the sculptor Kellock Brown, and located in the foyer of the former headquarters of IESIS, now the home of Scottish Opera.

Vice President Iain MacLeod played the bagpipes for arriving guests, who were welcomed by President Gordon Masterton. A memorial service around the tablet was conducted by Professor William M Banks, and young soprano Marie Claire Breen gave a moving rendition of "Amazing Grace" to conclude. Guests were then welcomed to the Weir Room where Deputy Provost Baillie Allan Stewart gave a welcome on behalf of Glasgow City Council, owners of the building.

Mark Dingwall spoke on behalf of the Glasgow Ulster Scots Society, Professor John Hume, Chairman of Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, provided the historical context of the building and its architect JB Wilson, and Alastair Wells, Trustee of the Guild of Benevolence of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, described the work of the Guild, set up in response to the Titanic disaster.

Visitors were permitted a viewing of the Rankine Hall and the magnificent stained glass window depicting the Lusitania.

In 1912 the members of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland decided to raise funds for a memorial to the engineers who lost their lives that night. The appeal was successful and Kellock Brown, sculptor, was engaged to design and execute the memorial. The marble tablet, on which the names of the engineers who perished in the Titanic disaster are inscribed, is surrounded by a bronze frame, and surmounted by two female figures also in bronze. The Memorial was erected in the entrance hall of the Institution's building at 39 Elmbank Crescent, Glasgow, and was unveiled on 15th April, 1914.

27th March 2012 The Future of Energy in Scotland

Subsidised renewable energy will be a very big barnacle on the hull of the UK economy..

With the success of engineers, we will overcome challenges such as storage, then we will see the costs coming down..

Which do you believe? Will Scotland's energy industry be the envy of the world?

The issue of whether the Scottish Government should include new generation nuclear power in its energy policy was explored in a debate about Scotland building a world-class energy industry.

The Scottish Government should reconsider its current energy policies if Scotland is to have an enviable energy industry, the audience decided at a debate in Edinburgh.

The debate, hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering in association with a number of Scottish institutions, explored the economics of Scotland's energy policy and narrowly rejected the motion that "Scotland's energy industry will be the envy of the world".

Speaking against the motion, Dame Sue Ion FREng, Visiting Professor at Imperial College, London, said: "Scotland's attitude to nuclear energy is schizophrenic. Its government is happy to support life extension of the existing two reactors but has vetoed the planning process for any new units.

"Notwithstanding the immense opportunity lost for Scottish construction, engineering and manufacturing jobs, this is like saying 'we are happy to support repair of our ancient customised Ford Cortina that requires lots of attention to keep it on the road, has no air bags, old brake systems and is costly in fuel terms to run,' versus buying a new, internationally available, high standard and more economical car."

She questioned Scottish politicians' view that wind and wave power could alone supply Scotland's needs, pointing to the experience of Denmark, which imports nuclear and hydro-electric power while exporting wind energy in times of plenty at low prices. She outlined the "immense engineering challenges" associated with delivery of offshore wind farms and marine energy technologies in very aggressive environments.

Dr John Constable, Director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said that current Scottish energy policy will result in "very large increases in the cost of electricity to the consumer". Also speaking against the motion, he said that subsidised renewable energy could cost £10bn per year until 2020, which is almost 1% of UK GDP, describing it as "a very big barnacle on the hull of the UK economy".

He said: "The UK's policy is a wager on the price of energy in 10 years' time; but it is a wager in which government seems to have no confidence. If it did, it would be simpler and more economically efficient to allow the prospect of rising prices to drive adoption, rather than using notoriously inefficient and innovation-supressing subsidies and mandates to force premature deployment to meet arbitrary targets."

Scotland plans to have eight gigawatts or more of wind generated energy in 2020, requiring a subsidy of around £2bn per year for 20 years, which Dr Constable said would be a heavy burden on Scottish consumers and reliant on trading with the rest of Britain, which he said effectively would mean that English and Welsh consumers would have to subsidise Scottish wind power.

Speaking in support of the motion, Dr Simon Harrison CEng FIET, Visiting Professor, University of Southampton, pointed out that the motion was about energy industry, of which energy policy is only a part. He highlighted the importance of industrial capacity and praised the diverse portfolio of advantageous energy projects being built in Scotland.

"Scotland has scale to do big things but is small enough to pull together as a community," he said. "Energy policy is being deftly manipulated by the government to build a comparative advantage. Not building more nuclear facilities in Scotland allows industry to focus on other technologies, while nuclear is still supported by Scotland's existing industrial capacity."

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, Scottish Power Professor of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at University of Edinburgh, also speaking for the motion, said that Scotland is building on its energy record. Aberdeen is currently the second oil capital in the world and Scotland is now positioning itself to meet the challenges of planetary changes.

Scotland currently produces 31% of its electrical energy from renewable sources and Professor Haszeldine said that wind power was the most sensible place to start, with CCS and wave and tidal projects to follow. Communities would benefit from wind farms as half a gigawatt was already community-owned, with the sector generating 11,500 jobs, he added.

Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, who made an introductory speech at the debate, said that Scotland has a credible and deliverable energy policy. "The fact remains that oil costs $125 a barrel and a barrel of air costs nothing. With the success of engineers, we will overcome challenges such as storage, then we will see the costs coming down," he said.

The lively debate was attended by MSPs, policy makers, representatives from industry and academia and members of the public. The motion was defeated by a small margin, with 52% of people disagreeing with the motion that Scotland's energy industry will be the envy of the world.

Acknowledgement: Royal Academy of Engineering

  • The debate was organised by The Royal Academy of Engineering in association with The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, the Engineering Policy Group Scotland and Scottish Engineering.
  • Gordon Masterton FREng FRSE, chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering panel in Scotland, chaired the debate.

  • 24th March 2012

    The next inductees to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame will be announced at the 2012 James Watt Dinner at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Glasgow, on the evening of 28th September 2012.

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