Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE

The Importance of Engineering Science - What Did We Do With It, Where Is It Now and Where Will It Go?

15 September 2008

The nationalised railway invested heavily in railway engineering research and in railway engineering; in 1972 there were around 3,000 engineering staff employed at the new Railway Technical Centre in Derby.

In contrast, during the privatisation process the railway turned its back on engineering science. Short term pragmatism ruled and engineering science was seen as unimportant to the individually privatised companies. It was not until the dreadful accidents of the 1997-2000 period that a pan-industry approach to research was re-initiated.

Today, engineering science is beginning to reappear and is once more helping industry to operate a better railway. The Railway Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has played an important role in helping railway engineers and non-engineers to understand and exploit engineering science during the years when generally, industry had lost the plot. That role is more important than ever today.

Meet the Speaker

My career began at a time when engineering science was seen as crucially important to UK railways. Since then I have been involved with the Railway Division's role as a Learned Society and with RSSB's research programme. The address will use these career experiences to illustrate the fall and rise of engineering science in our railway and will identify some signposts to its future.

Clips:

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: Dr Alan Lawton, Independent Engineering Consultant

Duration: 1 hr 25 mins