One of the UK’s most influential and respected engineers has been appointed by Ulster University to further enhance the institution’s global research capability in the highly competitive area of composites and aerospace materials.

Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones, has joined the university as its Bombardier-Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair. Focusing primarily on aerospace composites and building upon Ulster University’s already renowned capability in this sector, Professor Harkin-Jones will also foster collaborations and partnerships across other key engineering research areas including computing, metal forming and nanotechnology.

Ulster University Vice-Chancellor Richard Barnett said: “Ulster University’s expertise in the area of advanced materials engineering within our Engineering Research Institute, particularly modelling and manufacturing processes, is internationally respected, no more so than in the aerospace sector. 

“From the development of a platform of advanced manufacturing technologies to the development of globally leading materials concepts and commercialisation, Ulster University is impacting on local and international economies via technology transfer, consultancies and spin-outs; developing the core skills which are shaping key industry sectors and adding value to this region’s FDI proposition.

“Professor Harkin-Jones, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, brings many years of expertise, partnerships and strategically important skills. This can only enhance our relationship with both Bombardier and the Royal Academy, adding value to this university’s already world class research credentials and supporting the wider STEM skills agenda.”

Professor Harkin-Jones said: “The specialist engineering research undertaken at Ulster University is truly exceptional. The advances made by the university’s talented and respected engineers, particularly across composites and metal forming, provides a perfect foundation from which I can work to enhance the institution’s materials research capability.

“It is also a major opportunity to support growth and research opportunities with one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, which is already known for its investment in materials innovation.”

Professor Ric Parker CBE FREng, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Research and Secondment Committee, said: “Professor Harkin-Jones’ appointment shows the Academy’s continuing commitment to engineering research with great societal impact and commercial usefulness; in this case, providing the aerospace industry with new materials.

“It is through schemes such as the Research Chairs that we can create and consolidate strategic partnerships between industry and academia that help to keep the UK in the lead positions in in research and development.”

Michael Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager, Bombardier Belfast, said: “The appointment of Professor Harkin-Jones as Ulster University’s Bombardier-Royal Academy Research Chair is an important and strategic step forward for composites and structural materials innovation in Northern Ireland.

“Bombardier has a strong history of innovation here in Belfast and partnerships have been crucial to this, including those forged through the NI Advanced Composites and Engineering Centre (NIACE),  which is  based on collaboration between industry and the two local universities.  We are looking forward to supporting pioneering collaborative research projects with Professor Harkin-Jones, which are vital if Northern Ireland is to develop new technologies and skills in the high value engineering and advanced manufacturing sector, and ultimately compete on the global stage.   

Notes to editors:

  1. Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones. Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, which honours the UK’s most distinguished engineers. She is an international leader in polymer engineering and free surface plastic moulding processes, a Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 panel member and the winner of major research grants. She sits on the Board of the Higher Education Authority in Ireland and was awarded an OBE for services to Higher Education in Northern Ireland in 2013. She also plays a leading role in promoting women in science, engineering and technology, both nationally and internationally.
  2. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.

    We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place  to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For more information please contact:

Edel Mairs at Ulster University
T: 028 9036 8310
E: Edel Mairs

Giorgio De Faveri at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 0207 7660 655
E: Giorgio De Faveri

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