Professor Peter Kirstein CBE FREng of University College London has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Medal from The Royal Academy of Engineering for his exceptional contribution to the development of the Global Internet from its earliest inception as an academic research project throughout its progression into its current status as a basic infrastructure of academia, industry and society.
Professor Kirstein has been at the forefront of Internet development for more than thirty years. With an extraordinary ability to focus on the ‘bigger picture’, he has consistently fostered close international collaboration in networking research and distributed applications - achieved both through international research projects and through initiating the international deployment of the results.
In 1973, he established one of the first two international nodes of the US ARPANET (the pre-cursor of the Internet), playing a very active part in the follow-on SATNET project, which covered five countries. He led a group that became a key player in the emergence of international network connections, mail services, directories, security, Internet video conferencing and the Next Generation Internet (IPv6). In the early 1980s he organised a series of meetings which led to the International INET conferences for academic researchers, and the International Collaboration Board (ICB) in the unclassified defence field, which he chaired throughout its 20 year lifetime. The group he led provided the principal Internet link between the UK and US for over a decade, during which time he was responsible for both the .UK and .Int domains.
Professor Kirstein has continued to collaborate in US DARPA, European Commission and NATO programmes ever since. He has led several key European projects piloting directory, security and real-time multimedia conferencing services in Europe with links to the US, and has participated in many more.
Throughout his long career, Professor Kirstein has led a series of groundbreaking research and development projects that have stressed the protocols of the Internet to breaking point, and then through a series of inspired collaborations, run the projects that enhanced the system to fix those very problems. He continues this process today at 70 years of age. Most of his current research projects involve high-speed networks and networked multimedia, such as the SILK project, funded by NATO, Cisco and the European Commission, which is extending satellite-based Internet access into the Newly Independent States of the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Most recently, Professor Kirstein has been engaged in high performance networks, contributing to the case for the UKLight network, which will provide multiple, multi-Gigabit per second wavelengths between the UK, the EU and the US to support e-Science collaborations.
Peter Kirstein is truly a giant in his field. He will be awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Medal at The Royal Academy of Engineering Awards dinner on 05 June in London.
Notes for editors
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.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technology for use by the military. DARPA was responsible for funding development of many technologies which have had a major impact on the world, including computer networking (starting with the ARPANET, which eventually grew into the Internet), as well as NLS, which was both the first hypertext system, and an important precursor to the contemporary ubiquitous graphical user interface.
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Amy Abbott, Manager, Events and Awards, The Royal Academy of Engineering