Huge congratulations to Professor Richard Folkson who was elected as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineering yesterday! The below is from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ website.
Elected on 27 May, at the Institution’s Annual Meeting, Prof Richard Folkson BSc (Eng) CEng FIMechE ACGI delivered his Presidential Address to a lecture theatre filled with members and their guests at One Birdcage Walk.
In his first address as the 130th President, Richard set out his objectives for the year ahead and emphasised how he intends to focus on inspiring the next generation to encourage more young people into engineering.
He challenged all engineers to encourage at least three young people – including a minimum of one girl – to study engineering over the next year, and be able to tell him their names.
Richard also called on government, to work together with teachers, to reshape the curriculum so that what is taught reflects the needs and demands of the nation.
He said: “It is evident that although the Institution is doing well in growing its membership and providing a strong support for the development of engineers, there is a great deal more that needs to be done in the near term to encourage more young people into engineering careers.
“For example, a recent newspaper article concluded that today’s young engineers are ‘more likely to be inspired by Tony Stark (AKA Ironman) than Brunel’.
“We need to double the current numbers of people coming into the profession each year, and the shortfall of female entrants is an obvious area for improvement.
“All engineers should be concerned about passing on their enthusiasm for their chosen career to others. There are many ways that this can be achieved, such as getting involved with Institution activities; talking to young people about your enthusiasm for engineering; and arranging work experience in your engineering organisation for 16 to 21-year-olds.”
Richard said that the Institution and its sister Professional Engineering Institutions, such as the IET, ICE and IChemE, needed to develop new ways of engaging with young people at school and university in order to encourage them to follow careers in engineering. He added that there are some excellent examples of Institution members inspiring young people to pursue careers in engineering at all levels of technical achievement.
He said: “This issue cannot be solved by the Institution or even multinational corporations such as RollsRoyce or Jaguar Land Rover. This needs a national solution led by government. Government, working together with teachers, need to reshape the curriculum so that what is taught reflects the needs and demands of the nation.”
“This year the Institution will achieve its highest membership numbers ever at about 111,000, but this falls well short of the number of eligible engineers who could join us. If every current member could encourage at least one, if not two, new people to join us this year, we could double the size of the organisation. This would greatly increase our capability to both influence the future of engineering and provide better services and facilities for our members.”
Richard also paid tribute to his predecessor, Group Captain Mark Hunt OBE BEng (Hons) MA MBA FCMI CEng FIMechE RAF, the youngest President in the history of the Institution.
He said: “Mark did an outstanding job representing all aspects of the Institution and was particularly noted for his enthusiasm and positive attitude as he led the organisation forwards. Mark was an excellent role model for others to follow and we are very grateful for the time and energy that he devoted to the role”.
Richard also highlighted the legacy left by the Institution’s first President, George Stephenson, who recognised the importance of instilling technical competence and engineering standards in the engineering profession.
Richard said he was “very excited” and “honoured” to be taking on the role.
He joined the Institution as a student member and has played a committed and active role in its life for around 40 years.
Richard served as Chairman of the Automobile Division from 2008-09, Eastern Region Chairman from 2010-12 and has been Chief Judge for the Formula Student competition since 2010.
He worked in product development at Ford Motor Company for 30 years on all aspects of car and truck design, rising to the position of Chief Engineer.
His career at Ford included roles as the Project Manager for the original Ford Focus and the last two Ford Transit van programmes. Then he was responsible for all product verification and test facilities in Europe, followed by appointment as Chief Engineer for global technical standards and alignment across all Ford owned brands including Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Mazda.
He was Chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Engineering Committee during his time at Ford with regular interface with government departments at a senior level.
After taking early retirement in 2006 he has pursued his personal interests in education: he has taught Automotive Design at Loughborough University and serves as a Visiting Professor in Innovation and Design at the University of Hertfordshire.
He is also an assessor for Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) on technology projects and works as a consultant advising on how future vehicle designs can reduce usage of fossil fuels.
He also initiated the organisation of the Institution’s Sustainable Vehicle Technology Conference and has organised seminar events on lightweighting for low carbon and electric vehicles.
Read Professor Richard Folkson’s full Presidential Address.