Visitors to the Academy’s website can now view highlights of this year’s Academy Awards dinner. On 6 June 2011, more than 400 Fellows, representatives from leading companies and their guests and award finalists and prize winners once again filled London’s historic Guildhall for this sparkling annual engineering event.

Compère for the ceremony was BBC Radio 4 Today Programme presenter Sarah Montague, who introduced Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley and guest of honour the Rt Hon Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be an engineer than right now,” said Lord Browne. “Whether it’s the building of the Olympic Park, the development of robotic limbs or the installation of wind turbines in the North Sea – British engineering expertise is second to none, and tonight’s award winners are fine examples of this success.”

The UK’s most valuable engineering innovation prize, the £50,000 MacRobert Award, was presented to a Cambridge-based team from Microsoft Research for their work in creating Microsoft Kinect, the world’s first truly hands-free gaming device, which holds the Guinness World Record as the fastest-selling consumer electronics device in history.

The five winning engineers, Professor Andrew Blake FREng FRS, Mat Cook, Dr Andrew Fitzgibbon, Toby Sharp and Dr Jamie Shotton, won the 42nd annual MacRobert award for solving the problem of motion-capture in real time, giving Kinect its unique functionality and opening up a new world of possibility in the IT world. It is anticipated that such hands-free computer control could revolutionise the way surgery is performed around the world.

The second annual Rooke Medal - named after former Academy President Sir Denis Rooke OM CBE FRS FREng - for the public promotion of engineering went to Professor Chris Bishop FREng FRSE, also of Microsoft Research, for his persistent drive in engaging members of the public in the vital work of engineers and their contribution to society.

Four Silver Medals for commercial success in engineering were awarded to Dr Shaun Fitzgerald (Breathing Buildings Ltd and University of Cambridge) for his work on natural ventilation for buildings; Dr Karin Hing (ApaTech and Queen Mary, University of London) for research on the bioactivity of bone graft substitutes; Professor Doug King (King Shaw Associates and University of Bath) for contributing to some of the most ground breaking sustainable buildings of the past two decades; and Professor Eric Yeatman (Microsaic Systems Ltd and Imperial College London) for offering the world the first micro-electrical mass spectrometers and a desktop instrument for liquid analysis.

Receiving the President’s Medal for his continued contribution to the Academy’s work was Professor Anthony Kelly CBE FREng FRS. Known internationally as the ‘father of composite materials’, he has held many posts in his 60 year career, including Vice Chancellor of the University of Surrey and President of the Institute of Materials. His book Strong Solids, published in 1965 is still seen as the seminal work in the field of composite materials.

The ERA Foundation Entrepreneurship Award for early-stage researchers who exhibit a combination of business awareness, entrepreneurial potential and complementary personal qualities in the field of electro-technology, was presented to Dr Sithamparanathan Sabesan and Dr Michael Crisp, both from Cambridge University’s engineering department, for their research into a low-cost location sensing system, which could have major benefits for a wide range of businesses, including retailers and airlines.

The Shell Rising Stars awards for early career engineers were presented to BAE Systems’ Russell Davison, Arup’s Paul Wong, Bosch’s Steven Keeley, BP’s Mark Northcott, E.ON’s Jon Periselneris, Petrofac’s Sami Hassouneh, Shell’s Robert Barrie and Thales’ Daniel Constable.

The winners of the Bosch Technology Horizons Award, a national essay competition for young people, were also announced. Felicity Harer from the University of Leicester won the 14-18 age group prize for her account of closed-loop manufacturing while Norman KK Ng from Imperial College London won the 19-24 age group prize for his futuristic view of a train driver in 2136.

The Academy’s awards evening was made possible by the generous support of title sponsor BAE Systems and sponsors Arup, Bosch, BP, E.ON, Petrofac, Shell and Thales.

Notes for editors

  1. 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

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton