Professor James Stuart (1843-1913)

Professor of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics, 1875-1890

The first true professor of Engineering at Cambridge, appointed in 1875 was a great reformer. James Stuart, a graduate in mathematics at Trinity, played a leading role in establishing inter-collegiate lectures at Cambridge and was also a great proponent of higher education for women and for the working classes.

James StuartTo this end he established a system of extra-mural lectures which led directly to the establishment of the present, hugely popular, university extension courses.

The success of these two projects, as well as his reputation as a scientist and engineer, made him an obvious candidate for a university chair.

The demand to teach engineering at Cambridge as a subject in its own right had become pressing, especially as the result of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of 1850 which had been asked to review the teaching of the university. As a result, it was decided to set up a new Professorship of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics (the word 'Engineering' had been rejected in the title).