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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

SMMI Deputy Director awarded prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies

Published: 18 October 2019
Professor Susan Gourvenec
Professor Susan Gourvenec

Professor Susan Gourvenec, Professor of Offshore Geotechnical Engineering and Deputy Director of the Southampton Marine & Maritime Institute at the University of Southampton, has been awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Chair in Emerging Technologies to drive forward Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering.

The award will provide Professor Gourvenec with sustained support for her research and to develop a Centre of Excellence in Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering. The Chair will address technology gaps at each stage of the engineered life cycle of ocean structures, from characterising and forecasting ocean and seafloor behaviour, to the design and operation of novel platforms for ocean facilities. By harnessing the intelligence of sensing, robotics and autonomy, this next generation of resilient engineered systems will unlock ocean resources more efficiently and more sustainably, with less risk to life.

The RAEng Chairs in Emerging Technologies are supported through the UK government’s investment in Research Talent initiative.  The ten-year support provided to the Chairs will enable progression of pioneering ideas from basic science through to full deployment and commercialisation.

Professor Gourvenec said “We will need to rely more and more on the oceans for energy, food and transport to meet the needs of an increasing and increasingly wealthy global population. Smart, safe and sustainable ways of harvesting the wealth of the oceans while protecting their health are essential. Oceans are a critical ecosystem for a healthy planet and irresponsible or over utilization of the oceans would be catastrophic for humanity. Emerging technologies of sensing, robotics and big data have immeasurable potential to improve the safety of engineering operations in the ocean for workers and the environment, and open up new approaches to design and operations.”

“The UK has immense renewable energy resources to provide clean, green energy to the UK and its neighbours, as well as opportunities for other uses of ocean space from tidal stream aquaculture to floating ports, which will create jobs and wealth for the nation. Ocean engineering expertise, manufacturing and service industries exist across the nation from our mature oil and gas industry and transitioning this strength along with building new capabilities to support clean growth through new ocean technologies are key aims of this Chair. The Centre of Excellence in Intelligent & Resilient Ocean Engineering created through this Chair will be a hub for these activities.”

Professor Themis Prodromakis, Professor of Nanotechnology at the University of Southampton was also awarded an RAEng Chair in Memristive Technologies for Lifelong Learning Embedded AI Hardware, using innovations in nanotechnology to create a new electronic fabric that emerges memory with computing power while maintaining extreme power efficiency – like the human brain.

Professor Susan Gourvenec and Professor Themis Prodromakis are amongst eight UK-based researchers to share funding worth a total of £22 million to support innovations with the potential to considerably benefit society and the UK economy whilst enabling the nation to remain at the global forefront of engineering innovation.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Engineering is critical to the research and innovation process, enabling the generation of tangible economic benefits for the nation. Emerging technologies offer enormous opportunities for the UK, both economically and socially. Investment in these areas will help us to stay competitive in the global marketplace and to establish a foothold in developing future markets. The quality and vision of those receiving the awards are testament to the outstanding research talent in the UK. It is essential that we support both the innovations and the pioneering individuals who will transform their ideas into fully commercialised technologies with important and widespread applications.”

Dr Dame Frances Saunders DBE CB FREng, who leads the Chairs in Emerging Technologies steering group, said “We have had a large number of fantastic research proposals from very talented individuals across a wide range of engineering disciplines, which has made our job of choosing the final eight awardees particularly challenging. We have been delighted to see ideas coming forward in this round to apply emerging technologies that could revolutionise some more traditional fields of engineering as well as those that could open new areas of application. This is an exciting set of proposals and we look forward to seeing their progress in the years to come.”

Further details visit Royal Academy of Engineering Chairs in Emerging Technologies scheme

To read the press release visit the Royal Academy of Engineering announcing the 2019 awards news release

Main contact: Professor Susan Gourvenec 

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