Naeem Hussain, Arup’s Global Bridge Design Practice Leader and lead designer for Scotland’s newest bridge, the Queensferry Crossing, visited Edinburgh this week to give the 25th Joint Royal Society of Edinburgh/Royal Academy of Engineering public lecture on the engineering story behind the bridge.

This special event, held during the Year of Engineering, also marked the quarter century anniversary of a public lecture hosted annually by the two academies, which has featured talks by some of Scotland’s most ambitious engineering projects by world-leading engineers, including:

  • 2017 Archie Bethel CBE FREng FRSE, Chief Executive of Babcock International Group plc, on the building of the UK’s new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales:
  • 2016 Anne Richards CVO CBE FRSE, now CEO of M&G Investments, on her vision of the future of financial technology – or ‘fintech’;
  • 1996 Lord Cullen KT PC HonFREng FRSE, on the development of safety legislation following the Piper Alpha disaster.

Naeem Hussain’s lecture, held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on George Street, described the evolution and development of the Queensferry Crossing design, which was driven by engineering, operational and aesthetic requirements.


Arup, in a joint venture with Jacobs (Jacobs Arup Joint Venture), worked with Transport Scotland to develop and manage the Queensferry Crossing project, which is the longest triple tower cable-stayed bridge in the world. Using crossed cables in the middle of the bridge spans – a world first at this scale – the crossing heralds a new generation of bridge-building technology. It has resulted in three slim mono towers that are visually sympathetic to the existing two towers of the Forth Road Bridge and the three cantilevers of the Railway Bridge.

Early versions of the design had to be amended following the financial crisis of 2008 resulting in a Managed Crossing Strategy, which makes sustainable use of the Forth Road suspension bridge for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. The lecture addressed the technical details of the design and also explored how designers balance the demands of a shifting budget with high utilisation and low maintenance requirements.

Naeem graduated from the West Pakistan University of Engineering and Technology and obtained a Master’s degree from Imperial College London. He also studied architecture at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. He is a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences and received the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Gold Medal in 2012 for exceptional services to engineering. He has designed some of the world’s most iconic bridges, including the Stonecutters Bridge in Hong Kong and the multi award-winning Hulme Arch Bridge in Manchester. He was involved in the 12 kilometre Øresund road and rail crossing between Sweden and Denmark, and engineered and managed the construction of the Medway Bridge on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

“Naeem Hussain’s designs complement their environment, benefit communities, and combine beautiful form and function. The Queensferry Crossing provides a very practical example of engineering at its best. This is great to see during the UK-wide Year of Engineering, and Scotland’s first ever Year of Young People. The UK as a whole faces a serious engineering skills shortage and is important that we continue to inspire interest and excitement about engineering now and in the years to come.”

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering


“We were absolutely delighted to hear from Naeem Hussain at this joint lecture. The Queensferry Crossing has had a big impact on the Scottish engineering scene and within the Scottish community, this lecture was a wonderful occasion for us to celebrate its completion. We are committed and look forward to continuing to support and develop great achievements like these in Scotland through our work at the RSE.”

Professor Dame Anne Glover FRS PRSE, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Notes for Editors

  1. 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 three strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
  1. Royal Society of Edinburgh. Knowledge made useful. The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s National Academy, is a leading educational charity which operates on an independent and non-party-political basis to provide public benefit throughout Scotland. Established by the Royal Charter in 1783 by several key proponents of the Scottish Enlightenment, the RSE now has over 1600 Fellows from a wide range of disciplines. The work of the RSE includes awarding research funding, leading on major inquiries, informing public policy and delivering events to inspire knowledge and learning.
  1. The Year of Engineering is a government campaign, which celebrates the world and wonder of engineering. It also forms an important part of our Industrial Strategy which is committed to boosting engineering across the UK, ensuring everyone has the skills needed to thrive in a modern economy.

From spaceships to ice skates, the bubbles in chocolate bars to life saving cancer treatment, engineering touches every part of our lives. However, not enough young people – especially young girls – think it’s a world for them. As a result, the industry is struggling to recruit future talent. What’s more, young people are missing out on the chance to make a positive difference to both their futures, that of the planet and everything that calls it home. The Academy’s main contribution in the Year of Engineering is a national, multi-year, advertising campaign – This is Engineering – with highly engaging digital content that is targeted at the older age range of 13-18 year olds and their influencers.

For more information please contact: Victoria Runcie at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0620; email: Victoria.Runcie@raeng.org.uk