Every two years, the £1 million QE Prize brings a splash of glamour to the world of engineering, and with Professor Brian Cox is sitting in the audience rather than addressing it, this year was no exception. As Professor Cox explained in a video shown to the audience, the prize goes “not to areas of potential, or engineers who may be great in the future, but to engineers who’ve already done something that’s demonstrably changed, in this case, millions of lives”.
The announcement itself was made by Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of York, who told the audience “the UK is the best place to do science and engineering” and spoke about how his personal passion for engineering had been inspired by his father.
Lord Browne paid tribute to the work done throughout history by the engineers who have found solutions to the world’s most troublesome problems, noting the “excellent solutions are not inevitable”. He pointed to “imagination, creativity and tenacity” as the qualities most needed in the next generation of engineers. In December 2014, the Science Museum opening a new exhibition, Engineer Your Future designed to inspire 11- to 15-year-olds to think about careers in the engineering. 65,000 people have already visited the exhibition.
Dr Langer is one of 11 Institute Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. His laboratory at MIT – with over 100 students, postdoctoral students, and visiting scientists at any one time -is the world’s largest academic biomedical engineering laboratory.
Professor Lord Broers, Chair of Judges for the QEPrize, said: “Robert Langer has made an immense contribution to healthcare and to numerous other fields by applying engineering systems thinking to biochemical problems. Not only has he revolutionised drug delivery, but his open-minded approach to innovation and his ability to think ‘outside the box’ have led to great advances in the field of tissue engineering. He is a truly inspiring leader who has attracted brilliant people to these relatively new and exciting areas of research and is extremely involved in the commercial development of his group’s research.”
Her Majesty The Queen will present the prize to Dr Langer at Buckingham Palace later this year.