An in-depth look at the most influential people in…
The Baroness Brown of Cambridge, DBE, Vice-Chancellor, Aston University, 62
Julia King – Baroness Brown of Cambridge since her 2015 appointment to the House of Lords – is vice-chancellor at science and engineering university Aston. She was previously principal of the Engineering Faculty at Imperial, and her expertise means she frequently advises government on education and technology. King spent 16 years as a researcher and lecturer at Cambridge and Nottingham universities, has held senior positions at Rolls Royce, and was chief executive of the Institute of Physics. She cites her mother as her inspiration as she ‘believed women could do anything’.
Professor Nick Bostrom, Director, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, 44
Philosopher and artificial intelligence expert Nick Bostrom is a professor in Oxford University’s Faculty of Philosophy and director of its Future of Humanity Institute, which he founded a decade ago. His 2014 book Superintelligence argues that the future impact of artificial intelligence could present the most serious threat yet to the human race, and became a New York Times bestseller. Bostrom was born in Sweden and experienced an epiphany as a teenager when he first encountered the writings of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. He completed a PhD at LSE and has worked in physics, computational neuroscience and mathematics as well as philosophy.
Andy Cowell, Managing Director, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, 47
Andy Cowell has been managing director of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains since 2013 and is responsible for engine design and performance at Mercedes’s Formula One arm. Mercedes won the Formula One Constructors’ Championship for a third consecutive year after Nico Rosberg’s victory in the Japanese Grand Prix in October. Cowell was engineering and programme director for Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines from July 2008 until he took on his current role. He won the 2013 James Clayton Prize for his contributions to engine design and development in Formula One, and for his inspirational leadership at Mercedes-Benz.
Professor Dame Ann Dowling, OM, DBE, President, Royal Academy of Engineering, 64
Mechanical engineer Ann Dowling became the Royal Academy of Engineering’s first female president in 2014. Her research has focused primarily on combustion, acoustics, aeronautics and energy, specialising in the reduction of vehicle and aircraft noise. In 1998 Dowling became the first female head of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, one of the most esteemed engineering departments in the UK. She supports initiatives encouraging women to pursue careers in engineering and recently oversaw a report warning that Brexit should not limit access to skilled engineers from the EU, which could delay major projects such as HS2.
Sir James Dyson, OM, CBE, Industrial Designer and Founder, Dyson, 69
Since developing the ground-breaking bagless vacuum cleaner in 1983, James Dyson has gone on to produce hand dryers, hairdryers, fans and heaters, and his net worth now stands at around £5 billion. Success was not straightforward: in increasing amounts of debt, and supported by his wife’s teaching salary, he went through 5,127 failed prototypes before perfecting the design. He set up the James Dyson Foundation in 2002 to encourage and inspire budding engineers, and its annual award is given to the best invention by a student. In 2017 he will open the Dyson Institute of Technology to help solve the skills gap in UK engineering.
Nick Grey, Founder and CEO, GTech, 48
Entrepreneur Nick Grey has developed cordless vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers and hedge trimmers, as well as a battery-operated ‘ebike’. He founded GTech 15 years ago after resigning from his job as head of product development at Vax, and his first product was the world’s first cordless power sweeper. GTech now operates in the UK, US and China and has sold more than 20 million products worldwide. Its sales have tripled in the last year and it was listed in the 2016 Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses.
Demis Hassabis, Artificial Intelligence Researcher and Founder, DeepMind Technologies, 41
Five-times World Games Champion Demis Hassabis is one of the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence and co-founder of DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 for a reported £400 million. Leading a team of mathematicians and computer scientists, Hassabis develops ‘learning machines’, which support human understanding of digitised information and solves problems by sifting through huge amounts of data. DeepMind is now working with both Moorfields Eye Hospital and the Royal Free NHS Trust to analyse patients’ data, sending alerts via an app, and saving hundreds of thousands of hours spent on paperwork.
Prof Dame Wendy Hall, DBE, Professor of Computer Science, University of Southampton, 64
Wendy Hall was one of the first computer scientists to embark on serious research into multi- and hyper-media technologies and today she is a leading light in the development of web services. She is professor of computer science at the University of Southampton where she obtained her PhD, and was also its first female professor of engineering. Hall was a founding director of the Web Science Research Initiative with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and was president of the British Computer Society, of which she became a distinguished fellow in 2016.
Dame Sue Ion, DBE, Expert Adviser on Nuclear Power, 61
Leading nuclear engineer Sue Ion is chair of the government’s Nuclear Innovation Research Advisory Board, set up to research and advise on alternative energy sources. She has also sat on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and became the first woman to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s President’s Medal, its most prestigious award. As a spokesperson for the industry, Ion has done much to promote engineering as a career, particularly for women. She studied at Imperial and began her career at British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, where she went on to be chief technology director.
Liam Maxwell, National Technology Adviser, 48
Liam Maxwell became the government’s first national technology adviser in 2016 having served as its first chief technology officer for four years before that. In his new role he develops relationships with the UK’s digital and tech sector, promoting the digital economy both at home and overseas while harnessing its expertise on behalf of the government. A former head of IT at Eton, in his previous role Maxwell was credited with the digital transformation of the government and with saving £3.5 billion in admin costs.
Sir David Payne, Photonics Professor, University of Southampton, 72
David Payne’s invention of the erbium-doped fibre amplifier is regarded as one of the most important developments in modern communications and facilitated the internet’s rapid growth through fast transmission and amplification of large amounts of data. Currently professor of photonics and director of the world-renowned Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton, Payne also directs its Photonics Hyperhighway project, which aims to avert network gridlock caused by applications that use up a lot of bandwidth.
Nick Rogers, Director, Group Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, 49
Nick Rogers became director of group engineering at Jaguar Land Rover in 2015, having worked for the company for over 30 years. He learned to drive a Land Rover growing up on a farm in Oxfordshire, and joined the company as a technician apprentice. An expert on aluminium and lightweight technology, Rogers helped develop and launch a new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport in his previous role as vehicle line director. He has been keen to encourage more women to work at JLR, which now runs a four-day programme for female college students and a sponsorship scheme for female engineering undergraduates.
Prof Sir Martin Sweeting, OBE, Executive Chair, Surrey Satellite Technology, 65
Martin Sweeting is a world leader in microsatellites, renowned for his pioneering concept of low-cost, rapid response, small satellites. He heads Surrey Satellite Technology, the company he founded in 1985, and which operates a number of satellites in orbit for earth observation and imaging, scientific research, navigation, telecommunications and defence. Inspired by the 1969 lunar landing and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Sweeting decided to design a satellite while studying for his PhD – all the more remarkable because he knew nothing about building satellites and because the satellite weighed just 72kg when others were the size of buses.
Andrew Wolstenholme, OBE, Chief Executive, Crossrail, 57
Andrew Wolstenholme is the man in charge of Europe’s largest civil engineering project as head of Crossrail, the high frequency railway for London and the South East. Wolstenholme was programme director on the £4.3 billion development of Heathrow’s Terminal 5, seeing it delivered on time and in budget, and also worked at Balfour Beatty before taking up his post at Crossrail in 2011. The project, consisting of 73 miles of railway line, will cost around £16 billion and service is due to begin on its Elizabeth Line in 2018. In 2016 Wolstenholme was appointed vice-president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, with a view to becoming president in 2019.
Professor Saeed Zahedi, OBE, Technical Director, Blatchford & Sons Ltd, 59
Leading prosthetics designer Saeed Zahedi works for orthopaedics manufacturer Blatchford, where he oversees research and development in artificial limbs. Zahedi was responsible for developing the world’s first fully integrated limb system, Linx, which is controlled by microprocessors and adapts to changing terrains and circumstances, helping prevent back pain. The system won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious MacRobert Award in 2016, and Zahedi had been shortlisted for the award once before, for a prosthetic foot featuring a hydraulic ankle. He is vice-chair of the International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics and was named Royal Designer for Industry in 2014.