Cambridge University Reader in Mechanical Engineering Dr Hugh Hunt has been awarded the 2015 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Award for his outstanding contribution to the public promotion of engineering. Through direct education, television and radio, he has inspired thousands of people to engage with engineering and science.

Described as “…one of the most energetic, inspirational, and committed engineers in public engagement”, Dr Hugh Hunt scooped the Academy’s award in recognition of his efforts over the last 25 years.


Dr Hunt’s activities are wide and varied – he has long been a stalwart of the Cambridge undergraduate engineering teaching programme, as well as a regular contributor to the university’s popular science lectures. Through these activities, Dr Hunt has inspired many thousands of people on topics as diverse as the science of music to the mechanics of gyroscopes and boomerangs.


For many years he hosted the Institute of Physics School Teachers' Update Courses in Cambridge and he appeared at the Cheltenham Science Festival. He also makes regular appearances on the BBC’s popular Naked Scientists radio show.


In addition, Dr Hunt has created and presented television documentaries with a strong engineering component. He was the lead presenter and principal technical expert for Attack of the Zeppelins (2013), Escape from Colditz (2012) and Digging the Great Escape (2011). Dr Hunt and Windfall Films collected the 2011 Royal Television Society award for the best history programme for their two-hour long production Dambusters: Building the Bouncing Bomb. Watched by an estimated five million viewers in the UK, it was also screened in Canada, the USA and in Hugh’s native Australia.


Previous winners of the Rooke Award include broadcaster and engineer Professor Mark Miodownik FREng, computer science champion Professor Chris Bishop FREng FRSE, and Dr Diane Crann for her pivotal role in setting up Engineering Master Classes at the Royal Institution (Ri).


Nigel Perry FREng, Chairman of the Royal Academy of Engineering's Awards committee, said: "Hugh Hunt's fascinating work has helped to reawaken the British people's latent passion for engineering. He has invoked the spirit and derring-do of our wartime engineers, who triumphed against adversity, making some incredible advances - and escapes!"


On winning the award, Dr Hunt said: “To have won this year’s Rooke Award for doing something that I

Dr Hugh Hunt (image courtesy of University of Cambridge)
enjoy so much is incredibly rewarding. Very often, engineers are in the background, just getting on with things, but to inspire the next generation we need to be front-and-centre. As well as being vital to our future, science, technology, engineering and maths are incredibly good fun, and I love showing people that. Universities and funding bodies have a role to play too – they must recognise the importance of outreach activities and continue to support them”.


Professor David Cardwell FREng, Head of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, said: “All of Hugh’s programmes have achieved global distribution and generated public interest in the engineering that underlies these great stories. His constant drive and boundless enthusiasm for his subject has inspired a generation of budding engineers. He is simply an extraordinary communicator who fully deserves to be the recipient of this year’s Rooke Award”.





Notes for Editors


  1. The Rooke Award for the public promotion of engineering is awarded to an individual, small team or organisation who has contributed to the Academy's aims and work through their initiative in promoting engineering to the public. The award is named in honour of the late Sir Denis Rooke OM CBE FRS FREng, a former President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and one of the UK's most distinguished engineers. As Chairman of British Gas, his legacy was to build the UK's gas distribution network and unite the gas industry, making domestic gas a cheap and convenient fuel source for millions of people. He later became Chancellor of Loughborough University and served on many national advisory committees on both energy policy and education. 
  2. More information on Dr Hugh Hunt’s activities can be found here:
  3. 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:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: | 020 7766 0636

E: |  Jane Sutton



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