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Autumn 2016

What is the point of the School of Technology?

Cambridge University is made up of six Schools which themselves comprise about 80 departments. The School of Technology has five departments.

  • The Department of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology
  • The Computer Laboratory
  • The Department of Engineering
  • The Institute for Sustainability Leadership
  • The Judge Business School

So, if you are in one of these Departments, you are a member of the School of Technology. Many people maybe were unaware that they are in the School and this does not seem to have done them any harm. Given that much of the strategic focus of the University comes "bottom up" from individual academics and from Departments, what is the purpose of having Schools?

Formally, the main roles of the School involve: allocation of resources; facilitating communication and understanding between the centre of the University and Departments; and providing a structure to enable Departments to engage in strategic initiatives that come from the centre of the University or from external bodies like funding agencies or the Government.  There are four main areas of activity.

  1. Working with departments to develop and coordinate strategic planning.  In this way, University, School and Departmental plans are developed consistently and the interests of our Departments influence the development of the overall University.

  2. Working to make things fair:
    • A fair chance of promotion across all Departments and across the University (the School Senior Academic Promotions Committee and the School Human Resources Committee).
    • Fair and reasonable resource allocation in all disciplines (the School Needs Committee and the School's contribution to the University resource allocation committees). 
    • Fair career opportunities, irrespective of race, gender or any of the other protected characteristics (the School Human Resources Committee).
  3. Supporting teaching and research, and building cross disciplinary links through the Graduate School Committee, the School's Undergraduate Education Committee, the School's Research Committee and the School's role on the University Research Strategy Committee.

  4. Supporting major fund-raising and building projects such as the new Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology Building, the reintegration of Engineering in West Cambridge, and the Simon Sainsbury wing development at the Judge Business School.

The School also helps to coordinate IT support services, ethical reviews and researcher development education.

From time to time, we need to find new people to join the School Committees and contribute to their projects.  If you are interested, please send an email to the Head of School, Richard Prager.

Personal honours in the past couple of years

The honours recently received by our colleagues are remarkable for their number and exalted nature.

Professor Ann Dowling (Engineering) won the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Kate Gleeson Award and was awarded the Order of Merit.  The Late Prof David MacKay (Engineering) was elevated to a knighthood and Polly Courtice (Institute for Sustainability Leadership) won the Stanford Bright Award and was appointed DBE.  Prof Lisa Hall (Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology) was awarded a CBE and Prof Robert Mair (Engineering) was appointed to the House of Lords. 

Professors John Robertson (Engineering) and Zoubin Ghahramani (Engineering) have been elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society.  Professors Florin Udrea (Engineering), John Daugman (Computer Lab) and Philip Woodland (Engineering) have been elected to Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Engineering.  Professor Lynn Gladden (Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology) has been elected to the United States National Academy of Engineering as a Foreign Member.

Professor Steve Young (Engineering) won the IEEE James L. Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award.  Dr Hugh Hunt (Engineering) won the Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke Award for promoting engineering to the public.  Dr Matt Cole (Engineering) won three awards: the IET Sir Henry Royce Medal; the IOM3 Silver Medal; and the Royal Academy of Engineering Sir George Macfarlane Medal for research on vapour deposited aligned nanomaterials.

There are many, many more specialist awards of great distinction.  This list is designed to highlight the scale of recognition that has been achieved across a very wide spectrum of activities.  Please email if you become aware of any other achievements that we can include in the future.


EPSRC capital equipment refresh

The EPSRC have £20m to spend on capital equipment and plan to make 10 awards of up to £2m.  The University may submit only one bid.  The School of Technology and the School of the Physical Sciences have been asked to prepare up to two outline bids each.  Staff are therefore invited to send proposals to by Tuesday 18th October 2016.

  • Only capital equipment is allowed, running costs and technical support are not included in this call
  • The call is for underpinning multi-user equipment meeting either departmental or discipline requirements or for multi-disciplinary areas
  • Equipment must be supporting research that is very clearly centred in the EPSRC’s remit
  • High Performance Computing equipment is excluded
  • Lab refurbishment costs are allowed if they are directly related to the housing of the equipment requested
The bids should include a short (1 page A4) case for support with:
  • a definition of the equipment requested
  • a description of the science that this equipment will enable or underpin
  • a description of which EPSRC strategic priorities are met by this equipment
  • information on the wider-user base that could benefit from access to this equipment.

Please note the focus on multi-user equipment.  Bids that are supported by a larger number of academic staff, possibly from more than one discipline, are more likely to be successful.  You are advised to consult the research offices in your Department when preparing a bid.  



It is still not clear exactly what is going to happen.  The centre of the University, Human Resources and the Research Office have begun to address various aspects of the practical challenges that we may have to face.  As a School we will obviously engage in the practical side.  But at this stage, the most important thing is to focus on our institutional values and the fact that we are a diverse, international and multi-cultural community. 

Probably the most wonderful thing about Cambridge is the way it provides a context in which people from all over the world come together to engage in research and education.  Our greatest strength stems from the people that work here.  That strength is critically dependent on the international breadth of our community.  We must continue to attract the greatest scholars from global academia in order to maintain our competitive position and survive.  Diversity is not an optional extra, it is the essence of what makes us great.  Furthermore, this international perspective permeates all roles in our organisation, whether they be academic or not. 

None of this changed on 23rd June 2016.  Cambridge has a scholarly culture that has the strength to overcome and draw strength from external change.  If this were not the case the University would not have lasted 800 years.  And it is principally the diversity and excellence of our colleagues that will sustain us into the future. 

Richard Prager
Head of the School of Technology
October 2016