A Cambridge Professor renowned for his common-sense approach to engineering design has won The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Sustained Achievement Medal after giving over 40 years to his research and to teaching the next generation of engineers.

Professor Emeritus William Johnson FREng FRS, now aged 84, was presented with the specially commissioned silver medal by Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley on 10 October in London.

Professor Johnson is known around the world for the breadth of his engineering expertise and for his ground-breaking research on how metals behave in manufacturing processes. He has solved many problems for industry, from turbine blades for jet engines to assessing the crashworthiness of vehicles and has even written books on how bombs bounce and ricochet.

Born and bred in Manchester, Professor Johnson started his career at London’s Northampton Polytechnic, now City University, after four years’ service with REME in Italy during the Second World War. After a few years at the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester he became Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMIST in 1960 and then in 1975 Professor of Mechanics at Cambridge University, where he stayed until 1982.

Professor Johnson has spent his working life in academic – but not in ivory towers. “He is widely read and greatly interested in the history of science and technology,” says Professor Tony Atkins FREng, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Reading. “He is interested in how people fit into the way of things and always emphasises the foundations on which modern engineering has been built.”

Notes for editors

  1. Awarded to an engineer normally resident in the UK whose achievements have had a profound impact upon their engineering discipline. This Award applies particularly to those engineers who have not been recognised earlier in their careers for reasons such as the latency in the impact of their work or late disclosure due to national or commercial secrecy.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0636