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Department of Engineering

Royal Academy of Engineering celebrates its first female President

Royal Academy of Engineering celebrates its first female President

Professor Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS succeeds Sir John Parker GBE FREng as President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

There is a growing recognition of the vital importance of engineering in addressing the many challenges that face society

Professor Dame Ann Dowling

Fellows of the Academy elected Dame Ann as their first female president at the 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM). Dame Ann succeeds Sir John Parker GBE FREng, who served as President for three years from 2011.

A world authority on combustion and acoustics, Dame Ann has been Head of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge since 2009. She 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 Professor John Fowcs Williams FREng, who led pioneering noise-reduction research on Concorde. 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 now leads research on efficient, low emission combustion for aero and industrial gas turbines and low noise vehicles, particularly aircrafts.

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

In 2004, she chaired the widely respected report produced jointly by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties, which highlighted the need for responsible regulation and research around the use of materials at an extremely small scale.

Dame Ann is a non-executive director of BP, a non-executive member of the board of BIS, 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.

Dame Ann said: “Being elected to lead the Royal Academy of Engineering is a great honour. There is a growing recognition of the vital importance of engineering in addressing the many challenges that face society. But there is much work to be done to ensure that UK engineering is in a position to make its optimal contribution, including the need to address our looming engineering skills gap and crucially to pursue a strategy of efficient and sustainable growth in a rebalanced economy.”

Sir John Parker GBE FREng, outgoing president said: “I am delighted that Dame Ann Dowling has been elected as the next President of the Academy. As a world-renowned engineer, researcher and academic leader, she will be an inspiration to the profession and equally to those considering engineering as a future career. I am confident that the Leadership of the Academy is in great hands.”

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