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Keynote Speakers

The biographies of the keynote speakers are listed below.

Nick Cumpsty

"I obtained my PhD in the Cambridge University Engineering Department on three-dimensional turbulent boundary layers, but then used a research fellowship in Peterhouse to move over to a topic “hot” at the time, engine noise. At that time one could not join the teaching staff of the Engineering Department without industrial experience and I went to work for Rolls-Royce in Hucknall, near Derby, on engine noise.  This was an exciting time with the RB211 in development and then in February 1971 the Company went bankrupt. I survived the bankruptcy, but John Horlock lured me to the newly opened laboratory in Cambridge (then called the SRC Turbomachinery Laboratory, later named the Whittle Lab) on the bottom rung of the academic ladder. I began on 1st January 1972 and stayed in Cambridge for the next 28 years (with some sabbaticals in Caltech and MIT) eventually becoming Professor of Aerothermal Technology and Director of the Whittle.  I came to feel I needed a change, so from the beginning of 2000 I was Chief Technologist of Rolls-Royce.  This was a dream job, with no budget and no staff to look after.  Rolls-Royce make (or made) senior staff retire at 62, so I had to leave in 2005 and I went as Professor of Mechanical Engineering to Imperial College (where I had been an undergraduate).  Within about four weeks I was acting as Head of Department, in which role I continued for two years.  I retired from Imperial in 2008, though I am allowed to keep an office there and I am involved in the research, but not the teaching.

In my first employment by Rolls-Royce I was young and junior, whereas in my second employment I was old and quite senior, so I have seen industry from both sides.  It has to be said, however, that industry and Rolls-Royce in particular, has changed a great deal in the time.  I have also seen academia from the bottom rung to the top; again the university world has changed a lot in this time too. In the old days we worked very hard, but things were less bureaucratic and much less time was given to what might be denigrated as paper work.

My early research was on 3D boundary layers, then on noise. On returning to Cambridge in 1972 I began work on centrifugal compressors and endwall flows in axial compressors, and broadly these were my principal fields for most of my time in Cambridge. My remit in Rolls-Royce as Chief Technologist went across the whole product range. Now I am still interested in axial turbomachinery, particularly compressors, centrifugal compressors, unsteady flow in radial turbines, flutter of fans and anything else people talk to me about.  I work with colleagues here in Imperial; I visit the Whittle and talk to those active in fields where I have some knowledge; I have recently started a similar relationship with the Oxford Osney Lab, going there about once per month; and I have a long-standing close relationship with the Gas Turbine Lab in MIT.  Retirement can be very busy, but also interesting and rewarding.

In the late 1980’s I wrote my first book, Compressor Aerodynamics. I gave a new undergraduate course in the late 1990’s which formed the starting point for my second book Jet Propulsion. I never want to write a book again! However I do get satisfaction from these, particularly Jet Propulsion, which has sold over 10000 copies and has influenced teaching and learning of the subject. I get particular pleasure seeing copies on desks of people in Rolls-Royce."

Neil McDougall

Neil McDougall joined Frazer-Nash Consultancy in 2005 as Engineering Director after a varied career in consultancy and automotive component design and manufacture.  He served on the Board of Frazer-Nash for three years before being promoted to Managing Director, a post he has held ever since.  In the time that Neil has been with Frazer-Nash he has been part of the management team that has overseen the successful growth of the business from £20m turnover and circa 200 employees to £45m turnover and 450 employees today.  Frazer-Nash, a wholly owned subsidiary of Babcock International Group, acts as an independent engineering consultancy in the UK and international markets.  Clients include government, energy companies, defence ‘primes’ and businesses in the transport and general industrial domains.

Previously, Neil has held senior positions at Johnson Controls, where he was Engineering Director for Automotive Interiors for the Ford Business Unit, and served on the Board of Ricardo Vehicle Engineering as their Engineering Director.

Neil took his PhD at the Whittle Laboratory in Cambridge, is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  He is married to Jacky, and they have two grown-up children.  Now (very much) too old to play rugby, he is limited to offering coaching advice from the touchline.

Tom Gibson

Tom was an engineering undergraduate at Cambridge from 1989-92.  He went on to take an MSc in aerodynamics at Cranfield then returned to Cambridge to study passive control of shock / boundary-layer interaction for his PhD.  Following a brief period as a research associate on the Euroshock 2 program, he joined the Aerodynamics Department at Airbus in 1998, working in the Wing Shape design team at Filton.  His initial assignments at Airbus were in research, looking first at high Reynolds number design and wind tunnel testing techniques in support of the A380 program.  He then led the cruise aerodynamics portion of the ‘Nexus’ research project, which was set up to develop new design approaches and technologies for the next aircraft program.  In 2003 he became the leader of the Wing Shape team, thus becoming responsible for all wing external shape design and development work at Airbus.  As such he led the team through the design of the A350XWB wing, and was among the 6-person core team which won the Airbus ‘Top Award for Excellence’ in 2009 in recognition of this achievement.  In parallel, he led the design of the Sharklet wing tip device which will shortly be going into serial production for the Single Aisle family.  He currently has two main roles at Airbus.  One is as an Overall Aircraft Aerodynamic Design manager with responsibility for further developing Airbus’ aerodynamic design capabilities for future programs; the other is to provide ‘Flight Physics’ support – especially in the areas of aerodynamics and flight loads – to a current winglet retrofit project.  He also acts as an Expert in Wing Aerodynamic Design as part of the ‘EADS Experts’ scheme.