Sir Alec Broers DL FREng FRS had been Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University since 1996 and was an internationally recognised figure in engineering research and education. In 2004, he was granted a Life Peerage, becoming Lord Broers, and in the same year he was elected Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. The BBC invited Lord Broers to present the 2005 Reith Lectures on The Triumph of Technology, bringing him further recognition as an original thinker on future developments in engineering.
Lord Broers was always mindful that the Academy had to reach out beyond the engineering community in order to engage with the public on engineering issues of key importance, like nano-technology and GM crops. Together with the Royal Society, the Academy conducted a seminal Study on nanotechnology, chaired by Dame Ann Dowling FREng FRS, which concluded that nanotechnology offers many potential benefits, but its development should be guided by appropriate safety assessments and regulation to minimise any possible risks.
Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties (419.99 KB)
Engagement and education
A major milestone in the widening of participation was reached in September 2005 with the launch of the London Engineering Project in the London Boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth. This project, funded initially by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, was aimed at encouraging participation in engineering higher education from underrepresented groups, in particular women, people from families with no higher education experience, ethnic minorities and adult learners. The programme proved highly successful and became an exemplar for a national engineering programme
In 2005, the government asked the Academy to lead the Technology and Science in Schools Strategy. This led to the launch in November 2005 of the Shape the Future Campaign aimed at bringing coherence and coordination to science, engineering and technology schemes in schools. The campaign also focused on professional development for teachers to ensure they were aware of the latest developments in industry in order to better advise their students on career opportunities in engineering.
Policy and development
The Academy’s policy activities increased during this period with dozens of expert inputs to government and parliamentary bodies. Several important and influential reports were also published, notably on the Future of Engineering Research, the Cost of Generating Electricity, the Challenges of Complex IT Projects, Energy and Climate Change, and Risks in Engineering.
In October 2004, the Academy was delighted to receive a donation from the ERA Foundation of £8 million. This enabled a range of new programmes to be introduced including an engineering research prize and the ERA Foundation International Lecture.
Lord Broers initiated a number of major developments to strengthen the way in which the Academy was governed, including a new procedure for electing Council members.
A membership study was also initiated increase the number of nominations for Fellowship from underrepresented groups such as women, younger candidates, candidates from small and medium sized enterprises and candidates from newly emerging industrial sectors.