Skip navigation

Roma Agrawal MBE - Nuts and Bolts

Northumbria University


This inaugural lecture is in recognition of Professor Laing Barden CBE, the first Vice-Chancellor of Northumbria University and marks the launch of The Barden Scholarship, which offers academically talented students the opportunity to study regardless of their social or economic circumstances.

Book Now

Roma Agrawal MBE is an award-winning engineer, author and broadcaster. She is best known as the structural engineer behind the foundations and defining peak of The Shard - the tallest building in Western Europe. However, her very first job after graduating from university was to design and build the distinctive footbridge that crosses Newcastle Central Motorway, linking Northumbria University’s east and west city campuses and improving access for the community.

Northumbria University awarded Roma an Honorary Degree in recognition of her outstanding career as a leading female structural engineer, as well as for her work in striving to promote engineering careers to young people and under-represented groups. She was awarded the MBE in 2018 for services to engineering.

In her lecture, Nuts and Bolts - Seven Small Inventions that Changed the World (in a Big Way), Roma will deconstruct our most complex feats of engineering into seven fundamental inventions: the nail, spring, wheel, lens, magnet, string and pump. Together, they have enabled humanity to see the invisible, build the spectacular, communicate across vast distances, and even escape our planet.

Roma will focus on the surprising journeys of three of these inventions, revealing how handmade Roman nails led to modern skyscrapers, how the potter’s wheel enabled space exploration, and how humble lenses helped her conceive a child against the odds.

A drinks reception will be served from 5.30pm, prior to the lecture at 6pm. 


Event Details

Northumbria University
The Great Hall
Sutherland Building
Newcastle upon Tyne


a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

NU World

Explore NU World

Find out what life here is all about. From studying to socialising, term time to downtime, we’ve got it covered.

Latest News and Features

Dr Steph Yardley
Gondola in Venice
Campus Sunset Generic
IVCO 2024
gettyimages/Robert Ingelhart
Seagrass habitats are expanding in some areas, to the surprise of researchers. Matthew Floyd, CC BY-ND
Student Isobel Randall-Evans pictured with handbells
More events

Upcoming events

REVEAL: Fine Art
REVEAL: Computer and Information Science

Back to top