A new professorship will be funded by Dyson, the Wiltshire-based company famous for its vacuum cleaners, in order to promote breakthrough engineering and scientific research.
The £1.4m will be provided to the university over a 10-year period and will allow the creation of a new post, Professor of Fluid Mechanics.
Dyson has made it clear that the professor will encourage people to think about engineering in new ways and promote innovation. The new Professor will focus teaching and research on the science and engineering behind air movement, said Cambridge University. This will involve pioneering innovative technologies for high efficiency and low noise in the power ranges typically found in domestic, office and light industrial applications.
Dyson already funds post doctorate research at Cambridge, specialising in airflow, acoustics and carbon nanotubes. This type of research can sometimes leads to employment at Dyson’s R&D laboratory in Wiltshire.
In his report for the Conservative Party entitled Ingenious Britain , company founder James Dyson stressed the need to harness research breakthroughs in universities. Linking universities with industry would protect the excellence of British research; commercialising ideas creates patentable technology and exports.
Mr Dyson commented: “Britain needs bright ideas. We need more British students to take on research projects at British universities; we are struggling to fulfil our engineering needs.
“Forging working relationships with universities will help us solve our engineering challenges, and continue to export the best technology,” he added.
Philip Guildford, director of research for the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, said: “High power applications, such as jet engines and aircraft, have naturally dominated research in fluid mechanics yielding impressive returns in efficiency and performance.”
“The Dyson chair will bring world-class resources to bear on the smaller fans, compressors and other air moving components that pervade our lives in factories, offices, and homes,” Mr Guildford added. “Some are hidden away in computers, printers, just behind the dashboard in our cars or buried within manufacturing processes. Others are more easily seen in our fans and cleaners.”
Guildford remarked: “But try adding up how many we see in a day and imagine the impact of making them all smaller, more efficient and quieter. The Dyson chair aims to achieve this impact and inspire a generation of new engineers in the process.”