Institution of Mechanical Engineers IMechE

The 100th Thomas Hawksley Lecture: Does It Make The Car Go Faster?

05 December 2012

For the last thirty years Alex Burns has worked in high performance engineering in the UK and he is passionate about this Country's ability to develop new solutions for pressing problems, an ability ably demonstrated by pioneers such as Thomas Hawksley.

The highly competitive world of Formula 1 racing provides an excellent platform for the rapid development of new technologies. The regulations governing the sport are evolving to promote energy efficiency as well as making the sport increasingly exciting for its large, global fan base. This means that teams such as Williams are now pioneering new technologies to make the best use of limited resources.

In the 100th Thomas Hawksley Memorial Lecture Alex Burns will give an overview of the sport of Formula 1 and the Williams F1 Team. He will describe the frenetic pace of product evolution and the unique motorsport culture that allows this to happen. He will illustrate this with a description of the development of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System first introduced in the sport in 2009.

He will outline how Williams is adapting energy efficient technologies for use outside of Formula 1 such as in the public transport sector, making particular reference to the use of magnetic loaded composite flywheel energy storage as an alternative to chemical batteries in hybrid systems. These initiatives are behind the current rapid growth of Williams.

He will discuss the lessons of Williams for the renaissance of the high performance engineering sector in the UK and comment on ways in which policy makers can continue to assist as engineers lead the way in rebalancing the UK economy and stimulating future growth.

Presented by Alex Burns, Chief Executive Officer, Williams Grand Prix Holdings Plc

Alex Burns joined Westland Helicopters in 1982 as a sponsored undergraduate and obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College, London in 1987. Alex subsequently joined Meggitt plc, where he held a number of positions including Engineering Director of Meggitt Aerospace Components and Project Director of Meggitt Mobrey. He gained an MBA at Cranfield University in 2000 and then became Managing Director of Meggitt Electronic Components, working in the automotive and medical industries. Alex joined Williams F1 as General Manager in January 2002, managing all aspects of the test facilities, factory and the car production process. In May 2005, Alex was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Williams and, in March 2010, to Chief Executive Officer. He is also the executive responsible for the Williams Technology Centre in Qatar, Williams Hybrid Power and the partnership with Jaguar to build the C-X75 hybrid supercar.

Clips:

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: Presented by Alex Burns, Chief Executive Officer, Williams Grand Prix Holdings Plc

Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes