UK enters Swedish Turf

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering” certainly has a ring to it.

The Lad is glad to see the announcement of a big new prize devoted to Engineering excellence. Its aspiration to be equivalent to a Nobel Prize by being open to engineers across the globe shows admirable boldness and determination.

Was it a problem The Lad wonders, that this global reach made it more or less difficult to raise the money from the financial backers in the engineering industry . Depends if they have a global presence themselves, he supposes. The website says they are BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Shell, Siemens, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services and Tata Steel Europe. That’s seven UK or UK based companies and four non-UK based companies.

A group of the great and the good have so far have been appointed to be Trustees to manage the endowment fund and thus deliver the Prize. The Lad is reluctant to venture into the political [with a small ‘p’] snake pit but he thought it worth having a quick look from an idiosyncratic standpoint at their engineering antecedents.  They are

Lord Browne of Madingley [Chairman of the Trustees] who seems to have started as a Physics graduate and a BP apprentice forty-four years ago. The plan seems to be that he is there to provide serious gravitas via the enormous chemical and petroleum engineering clout of his BP past.

His fellow trustees are

Sir John Parker, who studied Naval Architecture and Mechanical Engineering at the College of Technology and Queen’s University, Belfast and began as a member of a shipbuilding design team forty-seven years ago. He is chosen as, presumably, the nearest they knew in the London network to an engineering creative;

Sir Paul Nurse is a geneticist [geneticist!?] and cell biologist and won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004 and can only have been chosen to offer, one imagines, judgement on the benchmark to the Nobel standard, and

Mala Gaonkar is a Harvard economics graduate and 1996 MBA presumably will monitor the care of the endowment funds in the maw of the City.

The Government Chief Scientist, Professor Sir John Beddington is a biologist and has accepted an invitation to be an adviser. His is the task of advising the Trustees on how, when required, to screw a response out of the government departments. Sorry! Guess it would be better to say ‘how to press the hot buttons‘.

Anji Hunter, who was an history graduate 23 years ago and sometime advisor and Director of Government Relations to Tony Blair, has been appointed Director of the Prize. Because ‘administrator’ is no sort of term for an engineering outfit, can The Lad suggest that she takes to herself the title of ‘Clerk of the Works’. Now this has a good engineering flavour and a long pedigree. Nay! An ancient pedigree it has; far older than that of ‘Prime Minister’ for example. As a job, it dates back to the reign of Edward the First when such a Clerk was the vital organiser of the building of those mammoth civil engineering feats: the Castles in North Wales around 1285.

A fine group. All the men have lately spent many more long years at the stellar managerial, coal face than at the engineering design scheme. They will appoint a judging panel next year who will include additional members presumably. It will be interesting to see who they turn out to be.

He notes that all, or at least the head office, has not ventured to far from the warmth of Westminster. Carlton House Terrace,SW1, darling!

Well, even if the current staff, sorry – Trustees, do not clearly have ‘engineer‘ running right through them like seaside rock, The Lad wants to give them the benefit of any doubt and wishes them success in making the Prize a glittering success and all engineers proud of them. He will be watching them.

How will the MacRobert Award fare now?

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