Cambridge Professor set to be first female president of Royal Academy of Engineers

Prof Dame Ann Dowling
Image credit: University of Cambridge

The Royal Academy of Engineers looks set to appoint a Cambridge professor as its first female president.

Professor Dame Anne Dowling has been nominated as the only candidate for the Royal Academy post, and will now go through a formal election process to serve a five-year term from September.

In 1998, Dowling, a fellow of Sidney Sussex College, became the first female Professor in Cambridge’s Engineering Department, and is now head of engineering at Cambridge.

The engineering professor specialises in combustion, acoustics and vibration, and has held visiting posts at MIT and Caltech. She was the UK lead of the Silent Aircraft Initiative, a collaboration between Cambridge and MIT, and was one of the founders of the Energy Efficient Cities initiative in Cambridge.

Having been appointed CBE for services to Mechanical Engineering in 2002, Dowling now holds a DBE for service to Sciences. She is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Associate Member of the US National Academy of Engineers and the French Academy of Sciences.

In a statement Dowling  said she felt “honoured to be nominated … at a crucial time when it is generally acknowledged that many more engineers will be required to help the country benefit from the knowledge economy of the future”.

In September 2013 Cambridge’s Engineering Department won an Athena SWAN bronze award for supporting the careers of women in engineering. In applying for the award, the Department submitted data on their gender mix, identify particular challenges to women in the department and lay out plans for how these issues would be addressed.

At the time Dowling said, "I have for a long time been concerned about the gender imbalance in Engineering and so I am delighted that the Department has received this award in recognition of our commitment to equality… Thirty per cent of our recently appointed academic staff are women and our Women in Engineering Forum provides a clear focus for activities, support and information for women across the Department from undergraduates to senior Academic staff."

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