On Tuesday 28th November, Sir Alec Broers FREng FRS, Vice-Chancellor of the University and former Head of the Department of Engineering (1992-1996), was presented with the solid gold Prince Philip Medal, the highest award from the Royal Academy of Engineering, in recognition of his pioneering work in the world of miniature electronic circuits on silicon chips.
The award was made by HRH Prince Philip, in the Department of Engineering at Cambridge where Sir Alec carried out his research in the 1960s. The award also recognises Sir Alec's achievements in building the University's links with industry as Vice-Chancellor. He has brought in substantial investment, notably the Microsoft Research Centre and is playing a pivotal role in developing the Cambridge Science Park and the new partnership between Cambridge University and MIT.
Sir Alec holds strong views about the role of engineers in society. He firmly believes that the divide between engineers and scientists is an artificial one, both disciplines being essential for technological progress. He has always encouraged engineering students to articulate their discoveries and to broaden their horizons into the humanities, thus also blurring the distinction between arts and sciences.
A biography of Sir Alec Broers was prepared as part of our 125th anniversary celebratory web site.
History of the Medal
The Prince Philip Medal, instigated in 1989, is awarded to an engineer of any nationality who has made exceptional contribution to engineering as a whole through practice, management or education.
The list of previous winners is short but very eminent:
- The late Sir Frank Whittle OM CBE FREng FRS in 1991 for development of the jet engine.
- Sir Denis Rooke CBE FRS FREng in 1992 for changing the face of the UK gas industry.
- Professor Charles Kao CBE FREng FRS in 1996 for the invention of optical fibres.
- Professor John Argyris FREng FRS jointly with Professor Ray Clough in 1997 for developing the technique of finite element analysis.
- Sir John Browne FREng, Chief Executive of BPAmoco plc in 1999 for his engineering and managerial achievements in creating Britain’s biggest company.