• Date & Time:

  • Location:

    Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre
    Sir Charles Wilson Building University of Glasgow, 3 Kelvin Way
    G12 8NN

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Inspiration and Innovation: the role of Grand Challenges

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RSE/RAEng James Watt Lecture

Humanity is facing unprecedented challenges from a population set to reach 10 billion by 2050, placing increasing demands on our planet and its resources. At the same time, an exponential increase in the rate of technological change is creating a world that is smarter, faster and more connected. Engineering is crucial to the international effort to drive sustainable economic growth by harnessing the benefits of the latest innovations.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, will be delivering this year’s RAEng/RSE Joint Lecture, which will be hosted by the University of Glasgow.

Dame Ann Dowling will explore the role of grand challenges in inspiring and driving progress in engineering, building on her own experience of being attracted into engineering to work on Concorde, one of the most inspirational engineering projects of its day. Like the Apollo programme, Concorde captured the imagination of a generation and enthused many people to take up careers in engineering and science. Innovations developed as part of these and other landmark projects can have far-reaching impacts and help to solve problems across many different fields.

Dame Ann will also evaluate how government can best support innovation, including the contribution of an effective industrial strategy and the importance of collaboration both for growing national and global economies and achieving sustainable development.

Prior to the Lecture, the University will also be hosting the James Watt Bicentenary Symposium, a one-day event, to mark the legacy of James Watt and explore the future opportunities and challenges for Engineering. Speakers from academia, industry and the public sector will present on a broad range of topics including James Watt’s legacy, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, space technology, bioengineering, healthcare, water resources and energy systems.


Professor Dame Anne Glover FRS FRSE, President, The Royal Society of Edinburgh


Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM FREng FRS, President, Royal Academy of Engineering

Dame Ann Dowling is President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and is also a Deputy-Vice Chancellor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where she was Head of the Department of Engineering 2009-14. Her research is on efficient, low emission combustion for aero and industrial gas turbines and low-noise vehicles, especially aircraft and cars. She led the Silent Aircraft Initiative, a research collaboration between Cambridge and MIT, and ran the University Gas Turbine Partnership with Rolls-Royce 2001-14. She has held visiting posts at MIT and at Caltech.

Ann is a Fellow of the Royal Society and is a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering, the Chinese Academy of Engineering and of the French Academy of Sciences. She is a member of the Prime-Minister’s Council for Science and Technology and a non-executive director of BP plc and of the Smiths Group plc.

She was appointed CBE for services to Mechanical Engineering in 2002, DBE for services to Science in 2007 and was appointed to the Order of Merit by the Queen in December 2015.