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10 May 2011

World-leading computer engineer set to collect top public engagement prize

The man responsible for bringing a number of machine learning techniques to market in modern computing technology has scooped a top award for his work in promoting engineering to the public.

Professor Chris Bishop FREng, has been awarded the 2011 Rooke Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering for his "persistent drive" in engaging members of the public in the vital work of engineers and their contribution to society.

Confirming his dedication to the public promotion of engineering, in 2008 Professor Bishop followed in the footsteps of Michael Faraday, Sir Frank Whittle and Sir David Attenborough by presenting the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, broadcast to a prime-time national television audience of five million people.

Nominating Professor Bishop for the award, his colleague at Microsoft Research, Professor Andrew Blake FREng FRS, said: "Chris is an ardent promoter of science and engineering to the public. He is a regular speaker at the major UK science festivals and he continually pursues and tests new ways to promote computer science, through novel demonstrations, interactive websites and video, to name but a few.

"The most prominent example of his public outreach to date has been the Christmas Lectures. To quote the Guardian newspaper, 'the results were both brilliant and engaging'.

"I truly believe that Chris's achievements and his persistent drive prove him to be an outstanding recipient of this award."

The Cambridge-based 52-year-old has had an illustrious career in engineering and science. He graduated from Oxford with a First Class degree in Physics before achieving a PhD in Theoretical Physics at Edinburgh.

As well as holding leading job roles across the UK, Professor Bishop has had many honours bestowed on him. He holds honorary Doctoral degrees from Oxford Brookes University and the University of East Anglia; he is the Vice President of the Royal Institution of Great Britain; he has a Chair in Computer Science at Edinburgh University, and he holds Fellowships at Darwin College Cambridge, the British Computer Society, the Royal Statistical Society, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2004 he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Previous winners of the Rooke Medal have included 80's children's TV star Dr Johnny Ball, former Tomorrow's World presenter Kate Bellingham, and the man who 'propped up' the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Professor John Burland FREng.

Professor Dame Julia Higgins FREng, who chairs the Academy's Awards Panel, said: "We are delighted to award the 2011 Rooke Medal to Professor Bishop for his continued and dedicated support of engineering and science in our society.

"The engineering community needs champions such as Professor Bishop to help inspire the next generation of world-leading engineers in the UK."

On learning of his selection for this award, Professor Bishop said "I feel truly honoured to be awarded this medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering. More than ever, we need to engage the public with key engineering issues that affect our society, and to ensure that youngsters fully appreciate the fascination and the opportunities which careers in engineering can offer."

Professor Bishop will collect his Rooke Medal at the Academy's annual awards dinner in London's Guildhall on June 6.

ends

Notes for editors

The Rooke Medal

The Rooke Medal 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 medal 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.

The Royal Academy of Engineering

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:

Ed Holmes or on 0207 766 0655.

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