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The University of Southampton

Southampton pays tribute to ‘inimitable style and steadfast support’ of Ship Science pioneer

Published: 20 August 2021
David Cooper

Tributes have been paid to David Cooper, one of the founders of the Ship Science degree at Southampton, who passed away last month.

David helped create the ethos and culture of the Ship Science programme that has endured for 50 years and helps ensure the highest levels of student satisfaction.

He was one of the original three ship scientists, with Geoff Goodrich and John Wellicome, who created the University’s Ship Science degree, and for a number of years taught all of the ship science modules between them.

David also spent many years as Associate Dean for Infrastructure in what was the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

He joined Southampton in 1971 after teaching at Welbeck College. He started his career as an apprentice at Chatham docks before joining the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors.

Despite retiring in 1991, he carried on teaching Structures tutorials for a number of years. He was a regular attendee at Alumni events and attended recent celebrations for the Ship Science 50th anniversary. David passed away on the 30th July aged 85 years.

Professor Stephen Turnock, Head of the Department of Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering, says: “David was one of the friendly faces who welcomed me to Ship Science when I first started. He was always good company but what stood out was his approach to students. Many years before anyone had invented the term ‘student centred’ that was his approach and anyone he taught will remember him for the all the right reasons.

“All those who worked with, or were taught by David remember his inimitable style, good humour and his steadfast support.”

Highlights of the many Ship Science activities at Southampton over the past half century have included the co-location of the Lloyd’s Register Global Technology Centre on the Boldrewood Innovation Campus in 2014 and the cutting-edge research from the Performance Sport Engineering Laboratory (PSEL) leading to a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2012.

Today, Ship Science courses at Southampton specialise in Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering and Autonomy, Ocean Energy and Offshore Engineering and Yacht and High Performance Craft, with students having access to a 138m towing tank and teaching from Wolfson Unit consultants as well as support from a worldwide network of influential alumni.

The portfolio of courses, accredited by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA), Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) and Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), still remain true to the original ethos of taking a first principles approach to the science and engineering of ship and structures that operate in the oceans.

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