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The University of Southampton

University of Southampton awarded Queen's Anniversary Prize

Published: 24 November 2011Origin: Engineering

The University of Southampton has been awarded a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its innovation and world- leading expertise in performance sports engineering.

The prize recognises four decades of innovation in design and testing, and technical expertise - supporting high-performance sports competitors, including several Olympic Gold Medal winners such as track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and skeleton athlete Amy Williams.

The Queen's Anniversary Prizes are the UK's most prestigious form of recognition for a UK academic or vocational institution, with approval from The Queen and Parliament.

The University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam, says, "This is great news for the University, offering much deserved recognition for the Performance Sports Engineering Laboratory.  The Award recognises the outstanding work of our academics and students in supporting competitive sport and demonstrates Southampton's world-leading expertise in engineering and the impact we have globally."

The Performance Sports Engineering Laboratory (PSEL) has had a major influence on competitive sailing, high-performance motor racing, cycling and winter sports.  It has worked in support of sports that gained 15 of the UK's gold medals at the 2008 Beijing games and more recently helped to design the skeleton sled ‘Arthur' which Amy Williams used to claim her gold medal at the 2010 winter games in Vancouver.

The University of Southampton has been working in partnership with UK Sport since 2005 to ensure the best performance and preparation for British athletes.  It is an official partner to UK Sport's World Class Performance Programme working with sports including, cycling, swimming, sailing, rowing, canoeing and wheelchair racing on the journey to 2012.

The PSEL team of academics, consultancy engineers and postgraduate students conducts a diverse range of research covering fluid and structural dynamics, simulation technologies and sports science.  It has contributed design expertise to the sails, hulls, keels and rudders on America's Cup yachts, had a long-term impact on the aerodynamics of Formula One motor racing cars and become established as an international leader in performance sports engineering - supporting leading UK sportsmen and women.      

Director of the Laboratory, Professor Stephen Turnock says, "I am delighted the long-standing achievements of the University have been recognised in this way.  We have seen our research impact at the highest level in competitive sport, but are equally proud of our graduates who excel in the ultra-competitive technology driven world of motorsport and performance sailing.  It is rare to find a team without one of our ship science, aeronautical or mechanical engineering graduates playing a leading role."

Academics and students working in PSEL have built strong links with industry and both undergraduates and postgraduates have benefited from first-class training in the specialist disciplines it provides.

A prize-giving ceremony will take place at Buckingham Palace in February.

Notes for editors

1)   The Royal Anniversary Trust

The Royal Anniversary Trust is an independent charity-registered number 1,000,000 - concerned with the advancement of education for public benefit.  It was set up in 1990 with the object of carrying out a programme of events and activities during 1992, funded and supported from private sources with official endorsement, to mark the 40th anniversary of The Queen's accession and her years of service as Head of State.  The Trust currently works to promote world class excellence in UK universities and colleges through The Queen's Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education.

The Prizes are a biennial award scheme which is within the UK's national honours system.  As such they are the UK's most prestigious form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution.  The honour is distinctive in recognising the institution rather than an individual or team. The scheme was established in 1993 with the approval of The Queen and all-party support in Parliament.

All eligible universities and colleges in the UK are invited to enter the biennial rounds of the scheme. The assessment process is overseen by the Awards Council of the Trust which makes the final recommendations which are submitted to the Prime Minister for advice to The Queen.

A full list of winning institutions will be available from Friday 25 November 2011.

2)  For further information about the Performance Sport Engineering Laboratory please visit:

3)  For further information about the University of Southampton's connections to Formula One and the America's Cup - and the activities of Southampton alumnus and race car designer Adrian Newey.

4)  The Wolfson Unit is a team of engineers and support staff who operate a University of Southampton enterprise and consultancy service in the areas of sports engineering, yacht and small design, naval architecture, renewable and offshore engineering and industrial aerodynamics. It provides towing tank and wind tunnel testing, design software, and onboard systems, as well as general consultancy and innovative research to a worldwide customer base. For its work in sports engineering, the Unit was awarded UK Sport Innovation Partnership status in 2008. Website link:

5)  The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship across a wide range of subjects in engineering, science, social sciences, health and humanities.  

With over 22,000 students, around 5000 staff, and an annual turnover well in excess of £400 million, the University of Southampton is acknowledged as one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine. We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

The University is also home to a number of world-leading research centres including the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Web Science Research Initiative, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, the Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute and is a partner of the National Oceanography Centre at the Southampton waterfront campus.

For further information contact:

Peter Franklin, Media Relations, University of Southampton

023 8059 5457

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