Faculty of Engineering

Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series

The Engineering Distinguished Lecture series is free and is open to students, alumni and staff in Engineering and the university.

There are currently no upcoming events. Previous events are shown below.



Prestigious lecture series

Delivered by guest speakers, the engineering lecture and workshop series provide an opportunity to gain fresh insights into current engineering issues.

Self-driving cars - a safe bet? Royal Academy of Engineering

Speaker: Professor Tim Gordon

Date: Wednesday 4th May 2016
Time: 4.30pm to 6.30pm
Location: Keighton Auditorium, University Park

Could self-driving cars be on our roads in the next few years? Tesla motors have promised automated motorway driving, while Volvo Cars in Sweden are planning a highly ambitious 100-car pilot in Gothenburg for 2017.

In this Royal Academy of Engineering lecture, Professor Tim Gordon, Head of the School of Engineering at The University of Lincoln, attempted to answer the key questions: “What is the risk of a collision in a self-driving car?” and “How and when will that risk become acceptable?”


Engineering a winning formula

Speaker: Yasmin Ali

Date: Friday 27 November
Time: 6.00pm to 7.00pm
Location: B02, Engineering and Science Learning Centre

WES Young Woman Engineer of the Year award winner and Nottingham graduate Yasmin Ali spoke about her experiences and achievements after university, her work at E.ON, and the kind of experiences and challenges she has faced as a professional engineer.

Towards a Silent Aircraft

Speaker: Professor Dame Ann Dowling
Wednesday 30 September
6.30pm to 7.30pm 
Coates Road Auditorium, University Park

Although aircraft noise has reduced considerably since the introduction of high speed jet transport, the further improvement of existing technologies represents a significant challenge.

In this lecture Professor Dame Ann Dowling discussed what generates noise on modern civil aircraft, the ways in which technologies can be integrated to reduce noise, and the benefits of a long-term radical rethink of aircraft configuration.

You can watch a recording of the lecture here: 

Professor Dame Ann Dowling is President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Society. She is a mechanical engineer specialising in low emission combustion, acoustics and vibration in land vehicles and aircraft.

In 1998, she became the first female Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where she was also Head of Department between 2009 - 2014. Professor Dowling was one of four main panel chairs for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and is also Patron of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES). In 2014-15, she Chaired the Dowling Review of Business-University Research Collaborations, the Report of which was published in July 2015.


Automated Railways: Human Vs Machine

Speaker: Professor Sarah Sharples

Date: Wednesday 13 MayTime: 6.30pm to 7.30pm Location: B14, Engineering and Science Learning Centre

Professor Sarah Sharples spoke about the future for automated railway systems. Are fully automated railways desirable? Do machines have the edge over people, or will there always be a place for human beings when it comes to driving or controlling trains? This seminar-style event showed the past, present and possible future for railway system, with an opportunity for questions and discussion.



Widening the NET: engineering Nottingham's tram system


Speaker: Russell Cohen, Mott McDonald
Date: Tuesday 12 May
Time: 6.00pm to 7.00pm 
Location: B07, Engineering and Science Learning Centre

In this seminar style event Russell Cohen spoke about his experiences working on NET (Nottingham Express Transit) Phase Two, the extensions to the existing tram line to the south and south west, which opened in 2015, and explained some of the reasons why the expanded tram network has taken so long to become a reality, as well as what it is like to work as an engineer on a large scale light rail project.

Russell is part of Mott McDonald, a global engineering, management and development consultancy, and has been working extensively on the tram for the past few years, which will connect to Wilford and Clifton and Beeston and Chilwell, and will also be served by two new Park and Ride sites. The University of Nottingham will be served by its own tram stop near to the south entrance.



The reality of autonomous flight: designing, building and flying a UAV


Speaker: INNOVATE team
Date: Wednesday 18 February
Time: 6.30pm to 7.30pm 
Location: Keighton Auditorium


Herve Morvan, Director of the Institute for Aerospace Technology (IAT) introduced the INNOVATE team, who explained how they planned, project managed and created two self-guided air vehicles, one rotary and one fixed wing. The air vehicles had to be capable of scanning an area, identifying a target, dropping a payload and returning to base automatically, to simulate a humanitarian aid mission.

The project was developed in six months to a strict budget, and is part of the EU-funded Marie Curie Innovative Doctoral Programme, with a holistic approach to aerospace engineering, involving students with a background in mechanical, electrical and aerospace engineering, as well as mathematics, bio-medicine and computer science.The scheme is supported by industrial partners from all over Europe, including Airbus group, Avio, Airlight, Sintef, SKF and Rolls Royce.

More information about the UAV project is on the INNOVATE blog site and videos of the air vehicles in flight are available here.



What is the Future for Fossil Fuels?

Speaker: Professor Colin Snape, University of Nottingham Director of Engineering Doctorate Centre in Efficient Power from Fossil Energy and Carbon Capture Technologies
Date: Friday 30th January 2015
Time: 6.30pm to 7.30pm
Location: B01, Engineering and Science Learning Centre

Professor Colin Snape outlined the scale of the challenge facing us. The average global temperature is now higher than at any point since records began. In the short term, the most likely scenario is a rise of 2-3 degrees. That may not seem like a lot, but has the potential to cause severe problems around the world.

Despite fluctuations over time, scientific evidence shows a massive increase in C02 in recent times; it is at the highest level it has been for at least 800,000 years. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows a link between CO2 and other greenhouse gases and a rising average global temperature.

  • We're not going to run out of fossil fuels anytime soon, with over 100 years of coal left and around 50 years for oil and gas. We have enough fossil fuels left to destroy the planet several times over (cause temperatures to rise to levels which severely threaten human life).
  • Electricity generation from power stations represents less than a third of the UK's emissions. The rest includes domestic transport, residential and commercial heating, industry, aviation and shipping. Any plan to reduce UK emissions must look at all these areas.
  • As well as increased use of renewable energy sources, other possible ways to reduce the rise of CO2 include wide scale adoption of carbon capture and storage (CCS), a major investment in nuclear energy, wide scale adoption of combined heat and power, fuel cells and energy efficient buildings.
  • Since the industrial revolution the UK and other countries have been polluting for many years and enjoying the economic benefits. Is it fair to insist that other countries, such as China and India, cannot do the same?
  • Fossil energy can only be sustainable with widespread use of CCS as well as large scale electrification of heat and transport. While CCS technology is still in its infancy, the timescale is urgent. Developing CCS would reduce its cost, and the UK, as an island, is in a good position to expand it.
  • The EU Emissions Trading Scheme has failed due to the low price of CO2.
  • Fracking can give rise to methane emissions which mitigates the advantage of natural gas over coal, in terms of lower CO2 emissions, since natural gas has 25 times the global warming potential of CO2.
  • Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) could be a less invasive and more acceptable solution than shale gas. There are 4 billion tonnes of coal available for it. As well as meeting energy demands while lowering emissions, economic activity along the north east coast of England would generate new jobs.
  • The University of Nottingham can play a key role in addressing the UK's fuel sustainability challenge, through the use of performance enhanced activated spherical carbon beads, for use in carbon capture.
  • The University of Nottingham's Engineering Doctorate Centre in Efficient Power from Fossil Energy and Carbon Capture Technologies is essential to the UK for producing highly trained personnel necessary for implementing cleaner fossil energy technologies and CCS, essential in the coming years. It is the only Doctoral Training Centre in Energy highlighted in the 2010 RCUK Energy review as being 'world class'.

Designing an all-electric supercar to drive 26,000km from Alaska to Argentina

Speaker: Andy Hadland, Energy Engineer EnergyExcel
PR Director Racing Green Endurance
Date: Wednesday 27th November 2013
Time: 6pm to 8pm
Location: Coates Road Auditorium

Andy graduated from Nottingham in 2008 after studying Environmental Engineering. He then went on to study Sustainable Energy Futures at Imperial College, winning the nPower Energy Challenge during his time there. During this year, he started developing the Racing Green Endurance project with six other graduates, and was later working part time at an energy start-up to support himself as the project grew.

He currently works at this same start-up, designing energy efficiency and industrial biomass systems. He has given several key note presentations and also guest lectures each year at Imperial College. In addition he is a STEMNet ambassador, Chair of the Energy Institute YPN and is on the Business Advisory Board for LSE Enactus.


The journey to Olympic Gold

Speaker: Tim Baillie MBE
Date: Wednesday 6th March 2013
Time: 17.30 arrival for 18.00 start
Location: Coates Road Auditorium, University Park

Tim Baillie, originally of Aberdeen and Etienne Stott from Bedford both moved to Nottingham in 1997 to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Nottingham but their real goal was to do as much Canoe Slalom training as they could at the National Water Sports Centre in Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham.

At the time they were both racing in the Mens Kayak class but after failing to make the full senior team in that category at the end of 2004 they decided to partner up and race in the Mens Double Canoe category instead. This was the beginning of an 8 year roller coaster journey which culminated last year in Olympic Gold at the London Olympics.

Tim spoke about his and Etienne's journey to reach their goal of Olympic Gold.


The Science of Performance Sport


Speaker: Dr Scott Drawer, Head of Research and Innovation, UK Sport


Dr Scott Drawer is Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport. UK Sport is the strategic lead body for high performance sport in the UK. It invests Exchequer and National Lottery funds in Britain’s best Olympic and Paralympic sports and athletes to maximise their chances of success on the world stage.

UK Sport works with each sport to provide the best possible support for athletes, providing everything they need from world-class coaches, athlete development to cutting edge research and innovation.

Dr Drawer is responsible for the delivery of the R&I programme, supporting GB’s leading Olympic and Paralympic sports through innovative science, medicine and engineering. This covers a variety of projects covering competition equipment, novel field based measurement technologies, and science and medicine of training and athletic development.

Dr Drawer outlined the approach, process and type of projects which have capitalised on British excellence in academia and industry to support performance and how these concepts apply and cross into numerous other industries and applications.


Advances in research and practice in underground construction - the future of megacities


Speaker: Professor Robert Mair CBE HonDSc FREng FRS


Urban congestion is a serious problem in many cities, so the creation of underground space and in particular the development of underground transport is environmentally essential for our future megacities. How can tunnels be built in ground sometimes as soft as toothpaste? What can go wrong? Will buildings above be affected by subsidence? What else is underground already that might get in the way or be adversely affected? Geotechnical engineering - the application of the science of soil mechanics and engineering geology - plays a key role in answering these questions.

The talk described the critical importance of geology and the development and application of the latest underground construction techniques. Examples of current and future projects from around the world demonstrate the size, technical challenges and complexity of modern underground construction. Protection from subsidence is critical and new ways to evaluate how buildings may be affected by tunneling and deep excavations were explained, with innovative protective techniques described. Novel techniques for monitoring construction using fibre optic technology and wireless sensor networks were also outlined, illustrated by some recent case histories.

Professor Robert Mair is the Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering and Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cambridge University. He was Master of Jesus College for the period 2001-2011, and he was Senior Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering 2009-2011. He is one of the founding Directors of the Geotechnical Consulting Group (GCG) based in London, started in 1983.

After graduating from Cambridge in 1971 his early career was spent working for Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick, including three years in Hong Kong. Specialising in geotechnical engineering, he worked in industry for 27 years until 1998, when he was appointed to the Professorship at Cambridge. He leads a substantial research group collaborating closely with industry, focusing on the geotechnics of underground construction and innovative field monitoring techniques. He is also an active consultant on civil, geotechnical and tunnelling projects worldwide; he is Chief Engineering Adviser to the Laing O’Rourke Group. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2004, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2007 and was awarded the CBE in 2010 for services to engineering. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Nottingham in 2011.


Energy and its effect on climate change

Speaker: Mark Fairbairn


Mark Fairbairn was appointed to the Board of National Grid PLC in January 2007 as Executive Director with responsibility for Gas Distribution. He joined National Grid in 1989 from BNFL and was awarded the OBE in 2002 for his services to the electrical industry in respect of his leadership of the fundamental changes implemented for the introduction of the New Electrical Trading Arrangements (NETA).Previously Chief Operating Officer of National Grid’s UK gas distribution business, he has played a key role in helping to restructure the UK gas distribution market through the gas networks sale and the creation of National Grid's new global gas distribution business.National Grid’s gas distribution business has over 11million customers connected in the UK and 3.4 million customers in the northeast of the USA.


Mark, who is 52, holds a BSc (Hons) Degree in Mechanical Engineering, is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Engineers & Technicians, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Companion of IGEM.


If you are interested in being a guest speaker for the Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series, please contact:

Matt Colver
Marketing Officer
Faculty of Engineering Marketing Team

t: 0115 8468067
e: matthew.colver@nottingham.ac.uk

Faculty of Engineering

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Contacts: Please see our 'Contact us' page