Some of the world’s leading engineers and business people – all members of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering trustee board and judging panel – have penned a letter in The Times, calling on global governments to preserve education and Research and Development (R&D) spending across their respective countries.

This letter marks the opening of public nominations for the 2017 QEPrize winner and Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday. Within the letter the judges and trustees reflect on Her Majesty’s life and the role engineering and technology has played in it over the last 90 years. It has been signed by the QEPrize judges and trustees, comprising academics, business leaders and heads of engineering associations from the UK, Germany, America, Japan, India, Switzerland and Singapore.

Collectively the 18 signatories cite engineering as a driver of productivity and emphasise technology’s increasing impact on human life as a reason for safeguarding education and R&D funds.

“We collectively appeal to those who control government budgets for education, research and development to protect funding for the next generation of engineers, even in these straitened times. Their work will sharpen our vision of the future and drive greater productivity for the next 90 years.” 

QEPrize judges and trustees

Lord Browne of Madingley FREng FRS, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, said: “In order for governments to reap the benefits from engineers they need to protect their research and development budgets. Through protecting this investment, engineers will be empowered and able to continue solving the world’s greatest challenges. Some of these engineers may go on to be the next QEPrize winner, but if not, they will at the very least provide their governments with more vital skills, goods and services which can be exported or traded to benefit their country.”

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden FREng FRS, Chairman of the judging panel, added: “There is currently a skills deficit in the number of engineers coming out of the education system across all our countries. We need to protect STEM education’s funding, and encourage those who shape primary and secondary education to allow more children to learn through a more hands-on approach, applying their formal academic knowledge and developing the necessary skills to grow into the engineers and scientists of tomorrow.”

Notes to editors:

Full letter

Sir,

Today, as Her Majesty The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday, we begin the process of finding the winner of the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering; a driver of change, an engineer who has engaged human imagination with the gears of technology.

The Queen has lived through an era of profound change throughout the world. There have been triumphs and disasters, hope and despair, victory and loss. However, one of the central themes of the last nine decades is the impact of increasingly advanced technology on human life.

The year 1926 marked Robert H Goddard’s invention of the liquid-fuel rocket, and saw John Logie Baird demonstrate the first “mechanical television”. Since then, the rocket has given us satellite communications, GPS, an eye on the universe and discoveries about weather and physics that have revolutionised our view of ourselves and our planet; television has connected us globally, opening the way to an almost limitless source of information, education and entertainment.

These were pioneering engineers - like those celebrated by the QEPrize - harnessing physical properties and chemical processes to the service of our species. Engineering does that for us. It is the servant of progress, indispensable to our future.

We collectively appeal to those who control government budgets for education, research and development to protect funding for the next generation of engineers, even in these straitened times. Their work will sharpen our vision of the future and drive greater productivity for the next 90 years. 

Yours faithfully

Lord Browne of Madingley FREng FRS
Chairman, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

Professor Frances Arnold
Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, Caltech

Sir John Beddington HonFREng
Founding Trustee, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

Professor Brian Cox OBE
Professor of Particle Physics, University of Manchester and
Royal Society Professor for Public Engagement in Science

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS
Trustee, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation and
President, Royal Academy of Engineering

Mala Gaonkar
Founding Trustee, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

Professor Lynn Gladden CBE FREng FRS
Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge

Professor John Hennessy
President, Stanford University

Professor Reinhard Hüttl
President, acatech

Professor Calestous Juma FREng FRS
Professor of the Practice of International Development, Harvard Kennedy School

Professor Hiroshi Komiyama
President, Engineering Academy of Japan

Dr Dan Mote
President, US National Academy of Engineering

Narayana Murthy
Founder, Infosys

Sir Paul Nurse FMedSci FRS
Founding Trustee, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation

Professor Choon Fong Shih
University Professor, National University of Singapore

Professor Sir Christopher Snowden FREng FRS
Vice-Chancellor, University of Southampton and
Chair of Judging Panel, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Professor Viola Vogel
Head of Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology, ETH Zurich

Paul Westbury CBE FREng
Group Technical Director, Laing O’Rourke

About The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a global £1 million prize that celebrates the engineers responsible for a ground-breaking innovation that has been of global benefit to humanity. The objective of the QEPrize is to raise the public profile of engineering and to inspire young people to become engineers.

Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

About the 2015 Winner of the QEPrize, Dr Robert Langer

Dr Robert Langer was announced the winner of the 2015 QEPrize in February 2015 at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dr Langer is a leading bioengineer and entrepreneur. He is one of 11 Institute Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the highest honour that can be awarded to a faculty member. Prior to this role, he was the Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. Langer is an internationally acclaimed inventor and engineer, with over 2000 patents and published articles. His research focuses on the field of bioengineering. He was one of the first chemical engineers to work in the surgical sector, becoming a pioneer in drug delivery, tissue engineering, and nanotechnology. Langer's research laboratory at MIT is the largest academic biomedical engineering lab in the world, maintaining over $15 million in annual grants and over 100 researchers. Langer is also currently on the board of directors at Bind Therapeutics and Advanced Cell Technology.