Alec Broers played a significant role in the University of Cambridge’s rise as a major economic force and centre of excellence for high technology and was vice-chancellor between 1996 and 2003. He has always expressed strong views about the role of engineers in society, considering that any artificial barrier between engineering and the rest of science is just as damaging as the perceived division between the arts and sciences. He sees engineering and science as two sides of the same coin and believes the Royal Academy of Engineering is ideally placed to drive home this message.
Lord Broers spent nearly 20 years of his career in research with IBM in the USA, working at the Thomas J Watson Research Centre in New York, the East Fishkill Development Laboratory and at Corporate Headquarters.
When he arrived back in Cambridge, Lord Broers set up a nanofabrication laboraratory to extend the technology of miniaturisation to the atomic scale. He also developed his research on using electrons, X-rays and ultra-violet light in microscopy and on making microelectronic components.
Lord Broers has served on numerous national and international committees, including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Foresight Panel on Information Technology and the NATO Special Panel on Nanoscience and was a member of the government’s Council for Science and Technology. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1986, to the Academy in 1985 and became a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 1994.
He is on the Board of Directors of Vodafone and of RJ Mears LLC. In March 2004 he joined the Board of Plastic Logic as Non-executive Chairman and in December of the same year became Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.
On 21 June 2004, Her Majesty the Queen made him a life Peer in recognition of his contribution to engineering and higher education.
1938 Born 17 September in Calcutta
Educated at Geelong Grammar School, Australia
1959 Graduates in physics from Melbourne University
1962 Graduates in electrical sciences from the University of Cambridge after arriving initially as a choral scholar
1965 Completes PhD research at University of Cambridge
1965 Researcher at IBM USA, later becoming an IBM Fellow and serving on the Corporate Technical Committee
1984 Returns to Cambridge as Professor of Electrical Engineering
1990 Master of Churchill College
1992 Head of Cambridge Engineering Department
1996 Vice Chancellor, University of Cambridge
1998 Knighted for services to education
2001 President of the Royal Academy of Engineering
2004 Granted a Life Peerage
2004 Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
2012 Chair of Judges, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering