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18 December 2006
Susan and David Hibbitt
A Cambridge engineering graduate who founded an engineering software company has donated more than £2million to endow a post in solid mechanics.
An international search is already underway to find the first incumbent for the new post, which is being funded by David Hibbitt and his wife Susan.
The scholar selected will join Professor Norman Fleck's team, pushing the boundaries of research in solid mechanics and communicating its importance to the next generation of engineers through undergraduate teaching.
After graduating and a short period of work in the UK engineering industry, David Hibbitt and his wife moved to the USA, where David did his PhD at Brown University. His thesis involved computational mechanics based on finite element analysis.
In 1978 he and his colleague Bengt Karlsson started ABAQUS, Inc. (now SIMULIA) to develop robust software to analyse structural problems in engineering. The business grew steadily, becoming a market leader with a suite of software tailored, through close partnerships with industry, to solving the toughest problems in solid mechanics.
ABAQUS software is used around the world in applications dealing with the mechanical design of a wide range of products including cars, aeroplanes, mobile phones, power plants and offshore oil installations.
In October 2005, ABAQUS, Inc. became a wholly owned subsidiary of Dassault Systèmes, a world leader in 3D and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions. The company continues to grow, currently employing over 500 people in 29 offices around the world, with headquarters located in Providence, RI, USA, and R&D centres in Providence and in Suresnes, France.
"Effective philanthropy comes through focus," Mr Hibbitt said. "We have chosen to support basic research at the highest levels in specific areas of science and engineering, and the provision of educational opportunities for bright people who might not otherwise have the opportunity.
"We believe these are excellent investments for the long-term common good. Our funding this endowment at Cambridge reflects our confidence that the solid mechanics group in the University's Engineering department will continue to make important contributions to engineering science well beyond our lifetimes."
Professor Fleck said: "David and Susan's gift provides us with a wonderful opportunity to develop our work in the field of solid mechanics. We look forward to recruiting an academic of international stature to join our team."
The Hibbitts have also provided £100,000 to match other donations toward the Ashby Scholarship endowment, which will support PhD students working on the mechanics of materials. The Ashby scholarship endowment has been started with funding from Professor Ashby, internationally famous for his contributions to materials science, and Professor Fleck. The matching donation from the Hibbitts is intended to stimulate others to contribute to this endowment.
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