Allan McRobie, a Reader in Structural Engineering, has been awarded a NESTA Fellowship worth £75,000 over three years from July 2003.
NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, believes that innovative people in the UK deserve investment and support. Thus, NESTA awards are designed to give individuals the time, space, money and support to push at the boundaries of knowledge and practice.
This funding will enable Allan to explore his interests in the connections between engineering and maths on the one hand, and the emotions, imagination and the humanities on the other.
Allan has already engaged the wider public with his analysis of the 'wobbly' Millennium bridge, drawing parallels between the human behaviour causing the problem and other natural phenomena such as the synchronised flashing of fireflies. More recently he has masterminded the restoration of the Phillips machine, an 'engineering wonder' which uses simple principles of flowing water into buckets to simulate the workings of the economy (see Enginuity, 2003). This is only the start of a much larger project aiming to bring together engineering and the humanities.
"I now have the freedom to talk outside my own discipline to people who say not that I have gone too far, but that I have not gone far enough".