JAMES WATT INTERNATIONAL GOLD MEDAL: ANN DOWLING

This award is presented every two years to an eminent engineer who has attained worldwide recognition in mechanical engineering. Professor Dame Ann Dowling has been awarded this medal for her work associated with efficient, low emission combustion; and understanding, modelling and reducing the noise from cars, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.   

Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS CEng HonFIMechE FInstP is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cambridge, a non-executive Director of BP plc, a member of the Board of BEIS (the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and a technical consultant to Rolls-Royce.

Her first degree is in mathematics from Girton College, Cambridge, and she has a PhD in engineering. She worked on the aeroacoustics for Concorde, then moved to underwater acoustics and automotive noise. She led the Silent Aircraft Initiative, a collaboration with MIT, which developed a conceptual design for a novel, ultra-low noise, fuel-efficient aircraft.    

She is keen to encourage young people, and particularly girls into engineering, and points to great progress as now many engineering degree course have more than 25% girls. “Looking forward, it is important to keep women in the engineering profession,” Ann reflects.

“Employers must have the right processes and systems in place to encourage inclusivity and diversity. What is good for women is good for everyone, and makes good business sense.”
She is currently the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, where she is leading the engineering profession in the UK to develop the right skills base, and the research, innovation and business environment for engineering to flourish.

“The main challenges for engineers are how to make sure that all the world’s growing population can have the same standard of living that we enjoy in the developed countries, and engineers need to help provide that in a sustainable way. Engineers will require great ingenuity to meet the huge challenges ahead.”

Ann Dowling is an engineer who wants to make a difference in the real world and believes engineers have most to contribute to solving society’s problems. She has collaborated with companies and universities, and is recognised worldwide as a key influence in engineering and industry.

She was very pleased to win this award: “I am really delighted; it means a lot to me to be recognised by my peers.”

Find out more about the James Watt International Gold Medal Award