back | contents | previous | next

Move on up...

Congratulations to the retiring Head of Department, Professor Alec Broers, on his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1 October 1996 – the first time that an engineer has held this post. Professor Broers resigned as Head of Department at the end of March, when he was succeeded by Professor David Newland, who has been Deputy Head since 1993. With a background in mechanical engineering, which he studied at Cambridge, Professor Newland was appointed to his first chair at Sheffield University in 1967, moving to Cambridge in 1976. He was instrumental in starting the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos in 1979 and has been one of the grant-holders for the Engineering Design Centre since its inception in 1991.

Professor Newland, Head of Department from the end of March.

His main research is in vibration analysis and control, an area in which he was thrown into the limelight through acting as a key technical witness at the Flixborough chemical plant disaster inquiry in 1974. His expertise led to the cause of the explosion being pinpointed as the dynamic instability of a bellows’ expansion joint. After the inquiry, he was put in charge of preparing a new British Standard for these components to prevent similar failures in the future. More recently he has written two well-known books on vibration engineering, and has been a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for five years.

As the new Head, Professor Newland considers that one of the greatest challenges facing him will be to provide the space and facilities that the department needs to continue its research. Present thinking is dominated by the possibility that the department will eventually move to West Cambridge. ‘But it is certainly not imminent. We urgently need to find imaginative solutions to get the best use out of our present buildings. The department is at the leading edge in many areas of research and it is essential to provide the best possible facilities for this to continue.’ The best of luck to both Professors in their respective, very challenging, roles.

number 5, summer '96 back | contents | previous | next