Cambridge engineers reveal what it takes to be an inventor

The Life Scientific: Inventors book cover

Cambridge engineers whose inventions have had a lasting impact on society have featured in a new book titled 'The Life Scientific: Inventors'.

Written by Anna Buckley, Producer of the BBC Radio 4 programme The Life Scientific, the book charts the life journeys of scientists and engineers working in Britain today. Based on interviews with the “ingenious individuals who have come into The Life Scientific studio”, the book shines a light on men and women who are driven by a “passionate determination to solve problems”. 

Among the interviewees featured are:

Professor Lord Robert Mair, Head of the Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC). He was originally interviewed by the programme in 2013 about his innovative technique of 'compensation grouting', which prevented Big Ben from tilting and even cracking and coming away from the Houses of Parliament during the Jubilee line extension works. 

Professor Dame Ann Dowling, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering. She was originally interviewed by the programme in 2012 about the 'Silent' Aircraft Initiative her and her team worked on in order to prove it was possible to build an aircraft that barely made any noise. 

Alumna Dr Caroline Hargrove, Chief Technology Officer at Babylon Health and a former lecturer at the Department of Engineering. She was originally interviewed by the programme in 2018 about her past job in Formula One, where she built the world's first digital twin of a Formula One racing car. She also discusses her goal to build digital twins for human beings.

British inventor Dr John C. Taylor OBE, who in 2016 donated £2.5 million to the University to set up a new Professorship of Innovation. He was originally interviewed by the programme in 2018 about his invention of thermostatic controls that are found in almost every kettle in the world.

The book is available to buy online.

Reproduced courtesy of University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering



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The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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