Degree Speeches
Sum mer 2001

Professor John E Midwinter, OBE, DSc, FRS, FREng

Public Orator, Professor Simon Jones, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Congregation held on the morning of Thursday 12 July 2001

John Midwinter is a man of many talents. An engineer, a researcher of impeccable pedigree and a major thinker and influencer of engineering education.

A graduate of Kings College London, he joined the Royal Radar Establishment, now QinetiQ Malvern researching superconductivity and optical signal processing, where as a result of his work he obtained a PhD degree on infra-red detection using optical signal processing. Moving on he obtained extensive experience in the United States in the emerging field of optical devices.

He returned to the U.K. in the early 1970’s to Martlesham Heath, the Post Office Research Centre (now Adastral Park) where he became the head of a section pioneering optical fibre technology: widely deployed these days but then a controversial and challenging approach to high-bandwidth telecommunications.

It is fair to say that John and his team played a crucial part in deploying the optical-fibre telecommunications networks that today provides us with high-bandwidth speech and computer telecommunications worldwide.

Having accomplished in a few years more than many of us would hope to in a lifetime, he was appointed BT Professor of Telecommunications at University College London, one of our most prestigious engineering institutions and latterly Pender Professor of Electrical Engineering. For 5 years he was vice-provost of that institution.

He is also active in our professional institutions; he is currently President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. Anyone who has been involved in that body will know of the clear thinking and unflinching approach to difficult questions that has characterised Professor Midwinter’s entire professional career.

As President of the Institute he is an ardent, cogent and convincing advocate of radical change in the way we educate and train engineers.

A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, John Midwinter is an outstanding example of research achievements, pragmatic engineering expertise and a clear and shining intellect in all he addresses.

Chancellor, I present to you and the University John Midwinter, for the Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.


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