Dr Diane Crann has won a prestigious award from the Royal Academy of Engineering for her pivotal role in setting up a programme of Engineering Masterclasses at the Royal Institution (Ri). The aim of these hands-on sessions is to open the eyes of young people to the excitement and value of engineering, and the diverse range of careers it can offer, by encouraging them to think creatively about solving real-life problems.

The Ri masterclasses also provide a unique learning experience for the engineers from industry and academia who volunteer their time to design and run the sessions, and gain communication and presentation skills as a result that can be taken back to the workplace.

Dr Crann, Clothworkers’ Fellow in Mathematics and Mathematics Programme Manager at the Ri, will receive this year’s Rooke Award for her commitment to the public promotion of engineering at the Academy's annual Awards Dinner on 2 July 2014.

Previous winners of the Rooke Award include broadcaster and engineer Professor Mark Miodownik, computer science champion Professor Chris Bishop FREng FRSE, children's TV presenter Dr Johnny Ball and the man who 'propped up' the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Professor John Burland CBE FREng FRS.

Following the format of the Ri’s established Mathematics Masterclasses, Diane piloted an engineering version of the scheme in 2008 after receiving an Ingenious grant from the Academy. Six years later, Dr Crann’s dedication and persistence has resulted in a network of Ri Engineering Masterclasses around the UK which have also received support from engineering industry.

Participating students attend six different half-day workshops, which excite, enthuse and inspire attendees about the relevance, importance and fun of engineering.

On winning the award, Dr Crann said: “I am thrilled to be named the recipient of this year’s Rooke Award. It has been an honour to lead the Ri Masterclasses team and support so many fantastic engineers to share their passion for the subject with the next generation. I hope that many young people will now pursue engineering as a career as a result of their fun and inspiring sessions and that is something we should all be incredibly proud of.”

Chair of the Awards Committee Dervilla Mitchell FREng said: "Diane has invested great amounts of energy into setting up a programme of dedicated masterclasses in engineering at the Royal Institution. Her passion and enthusiasm for the subject is evident and her dedication to spreading the excitement of engineering is to be highly applauded. In awarding Diane this year’s Rooke Award, we are recognising her long-term contribution and commitment to engineering engagement and education which will have a long-lasting legacy at the Ri.”

Director of Science and Education at the Royal Institution Dr Gail Cardew said: “When I found out nominations for this year’s Rooke Award had opened, it took me about a nanosecond to decide to put Diane forward. I’ve been working with her for years and so I personally know how determined she has been to establish the Ri Engineering Masterclasses. Of course her expert knowledge in developing stimulating masterclasses for students played a huge part in this, but equally important is how she has assembled a powerful network of funders, teachers and of course engineers to pull it off.”

The Awards Committee have also highly commended Construction Youth Trust's Budding Brunels programme. Running since 2010, Budding Brunels informs and inspires school and further education level students from disadvantaged backgrounds about engineering higher education and career options within the construction industry.

Notes for Editors:

  1. The Rooke Award for the public promotion of engineering is awarded to an individual, small team or organisation who has contributed to the Academy's aims and work through their initiative in promoting engineering to the public. The award is named in honour of the late Sir Denis Rooke OM CBE FRS FREng, a former President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and one of the UK's most distinguished engineers. As Chairman of British Gas, his legacy was to build the UK's gas distribution network and unite the gas industry, making domestic gas a cheap and convenient fuel source for millions of people. He later became Chancellor of Loughborough University and served on many national advisory committees on both energy policy and education.
  1. More information on the Royal Institution’s Engineering Masterclasses can be found at the Ri website:
    www.rigb.org/education/masterclasses
  1. More information on the Budding Brunels programme can be found at the Construction Youth Trust website:
    www.constructionyouth.org.uk/what-we-do/budding-brunels
  1. Ingenious is the Royal Academy of Engineering's public engagement grants scheme for creative public engagement with engineering projects. The scheme is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
    Ingenious Grant
  1. About the Royal Academy of Engineering
    As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For further information contact:

Manisha Lalloo at the Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel: 020 7766 0683
Email:  Manisha Lalloo

Related articles