Hall of fame: the best is yet to come

Posted on 4 Feb 2014 by The Manufacturer

Ann Watson, chief operating officer at Semta, calls on British industry to live for today and tomorrow not hanker after the past.

Ann Watson, COO, Semta

We at Semta believe that the best days of Great British engineering are yet to come.

Many might have you believe otherwise – confining the gargantuan achievers in our field to the pages of dusty history books – or the dark echoing halls of a major museum.

But Britons are still achieving great things in many more areas of industry than their illustrious predecessors could ever imagine. Maybe as a nation we just aren’t shouting about it loudly enough.

Great British engineering is blossoming everywhere we look – yet many youngsters might not even know the meaning of the word.

So hence we came up with the Semta Engineering Hall of Fame – a mechanism designed specifically to:

  • Acknowledge the pioneers of yesteryear
  • Ensure that a contemporary great British Engineer is given the glory that she or he justly deserves.

Ten greats of old – and a living breathing great British engineer from the here and now – are due to be invested in the Semta Engineering Hall of Fame – at the inaugural Semta Skills Awards on Wednesday February 12th.

Our board of directors and senior consultants selected 10 historic figures to invest – and we asked our sector to nominate suitable contemporary candidates to stand shoulder to shoulder with them then vote for their winner.

The final short-list of 5 contains a household name (Sir James Dyson) a hi-tech wizard (Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive) and even a mere babe in arms (23 year old Sam Etherington), who has designed and developed a revolutionary tidal energy generator.

We need your vote

With just 24 hours to the close of voting the tally couldn’t be closer! So please read the full profiles and feel free to make your vote count http://www.semta.org.uk/hall-of-fame

Yes there has been controversy – there are two women in our list of greats to be invested – but we didn’t receive a single nomination for a female or a non-white male for our contemporary counterpart.

We decided on this occasion not to impose quotas of gender or race on the proceedings – but instead let the debate rage.

Here’s to the past, the present and the future! 

The Greats:

John Rennie (1761-1821)

George Stephenson (1781-1848)

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859)

Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891)

Sir Benjamin Baker (1840–1907)

Barnes Wallis (1887-1979)

Sir John Ambrose Fleming (1848–1945)

Dame Caroline Haslett (1895–1957)

Verena Holmes (1889–1964)

Sir Frank Whittle (1907–1996)

The Contemporaries:

David Gow, aged 56, from Dumfries in Scotland has dedicated decades to developing pioneering prosthetics. He and his team at Touch Bionics developed an electric shoulder and a partial hand system. He is a member of The Royal Academy of Engineering and is a fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

Sir James Dyson, aged 66, is a serial inventor, creating devices that improve lives. He is best known for his bag-less vacuum cleaner – which uses a cyclonic system that he devised having observed an air filtration unit in a factory.

Sam Etherington, aged 23, a designer at Blueprint Design Engineering in Cumbria, created waves with his multi-axis wave converter, more powerful and efficient than existing tidal energy systems.

Tim Morgan, has transformed thousands of lives thanks to his patented all terrain wheelchair systems. Tim, who appeared on Dragons’ Den, wanted everyone to be able to enjoy one of the loves of his life – the great outdoors.

Sir Jonathan Ive, aged 46, is at the very creative core of the incomparable Apple Inc. The Essex born engineer is the Senior Vice President of Design and was described by the late Steve Jobs as the ‘spiritual partner of the organisation.