Dr Adam Neville CBE FREng, widely respected world-wide for his expertise on concrete structures, has received one of The Royal Academy of Engineering’s most prestigious awards – the Sustained Achievement Medal – after devoting nearly 60 years to research and practice in civil and structural engineering all over the world.
Adam Neville was born in Poland in 1923. In 1939 he escaped from German occupation only to be captured during the Russian invasion and then endured prison and labour camp in the Arctic, eventually travelling alone right across the country to join the Polish Forces under British Command in Persia in 1942. After demobilisation he studied engineering at Queen Mary College, University of London.
Dr Neville’s research on concrete as a material is world renowned. His first book, Properties of Concrete, published in 1963, has been translated into 13 languages and has sold over half a million copies. In many parts of the world this book is known familiarly as “Neville’s concrete bible”. In all he has written ten books and over 250 technical papers.
Neville’s work, whilst highly regarded academically, has also had a profound influence on engineering in practice. In 1963, after a number of experimental investigations, he published a major paper reviewing laboratory and field behaviour of high alumina cement concrete (HAC) and concluded that, under British exposure conditions, structural members are likely to become unsafe after 10 to 20 years. This paper provoked a virulent reaction from the manufacturers of pre-cast HAC beams as well as the cement manufacturers. Some years later, three major roof collapses in London vindicated his findings and Dr Neville was invited to serve on the Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee dealing with HAC.
“Adam Neville’s constant priority throughout his career has been excellence, says Adrian Long OBE FREng, Professor of Civil Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast. “This has been sustained over the last 58 years during which his innate engineering ability has had a profound influence on the profession.”
Dr Neville taught engineering at universities in Nigeria, Canada and back in the UK. During his nine years (1978-87) as Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Dundee he provided strong support for good quality research and succeeded in improving relations between the university and industry both at home and abroad. Throughout his academic career, even when Vice Chancellor, he was active as a consultant and an expert witness. When he took early retirement in 1987 he qualified as an arbitrator and has been much in demand in a number of legal cases involving high profile projects as far away as Hong Kong.
Professionally, he served on the Council of the Institution of Structural Engineers and as Vice President of The Royal Academy of Engineering 1992-95.
Dr Neville learned to ski at the age of five and has continued the sport for 75 years. He speaks seven European languages and recently became a Gold Member of the American Travellers’ Century Club after visiting almost all the countries of the world.
“I am honoured to receive this award from the Academy,” says Dr Neville. “My work has given me a chance to make numerous good friends, literally the world over. I think that that has been the greatest 'side-effect' of my 'life in concrete'.”
Notes for editors
Awarded to an engineer normally resident in the UK whose achievements have had a profound impact upon their engineering discipline, the Sustained Achievement Award applies particularly to those engineers who have not been recognised earlier in their careers for reasons such as latency in the impact of their work or late disclosure due to national or commercial secrecy.
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.
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