There was a full house in attendance for the 16th Annual Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture, hosted by Engineers Ireland and the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s, and delivered by Professor Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering. The event, which also featured in the NI Science Festival’s programme, took place on 21 February 2017 in Riddel Hall.
After welcome addresses by Queen’s President and Vice Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston and Engineers Ireland Northern Region Chair, Ronan Boyle, Professor Dame Ann Dowling began to examine the role of universities in stimulating growth through the people they educate and through their research and enterprise activities
A world authority on combustion and acoustics, Dame Ann is President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, where she was Head of the Department of Engineering 2009-14.
Professor Dowling explored the challenges and opportunities facing the engineering community of the UK in leaving the EU, and highlighted the importance of collaboration between universities, researchers and industry partners to both the new UK industrial strategy and the industrial strategy for Northern Ireland that is open for consultation until April. She commended the research and innovation strengths of Queen’s University.
In her address Professor Dowling drew upon the findings of the report she authored: ‘The Dowling Review of Business-University Research Collaboration’, from 2015. The key messages from the report included the importance of long term partnerships between universities and industry; the importance of strong, trusting relationships between people in business and academia; and the need for Government to simplify the current innovation system, and utilise some current successful components to implement an effective system.
She concluded by reemphasising the need for university-business collaboration to drive growth in Northern Ireland, and increase engineering’s impact on society.
Dermot Byrne, President of Engineers Ireland, thanked Dame Ann for her talk and presented her with the specially designed gift, a cube engineered and donated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Faculty at Queen’s University Belfast.