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Golden Jubilee of Building Services celebrated

8th June 2015

Students and staff from the last five decades came together recently to celebrate 50 years of Building Services Engineering at Northumbria University.

High-profile alumni and employers joined former staff and current students for a special anniversary event on campus, which featured a guest lecture by Gavin Thompson, Northumbria alumni and CEO of international engineering firm Buro Happold. Another prestigious alumnus, Peter Rolton, also presented an annual student prize sponsored by his company, Rolton Group.

Senior lecturer Jess Tindall, who helped organise the event, said: “Gavin Thompson’s inspiring lecture used imagery and examples from his career, from graduate to CEO of Buro Happold, to highlight his vision of the future for Architectural Engineering.

CIBSE Journal 50yr - Gacvin Thompson - Web“The need for professional engineers to nurture curiosity, critical thinking and to maintain an emotional attachment to their projects was clearly brought into focus. These are the attributes that studying here gave Gavin back in the 1980’s and that we still strive to deliver today too. We are very grateful to Gavin for his support and fascinating public lecture.”

Former Dean of the School of the Built and Natural Environment, Steve Hodgson also returned to share some memories from the early days of the Diploma in Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning through to his retirement in 2012. Peter Rolton of engineering consultancy Rolton Group also presented a 50th Anniversary prize of £1,500 for the ‘Best built environment renewable/low carbon integration project’. This went to student Stephen Hargreaves.

Chairman Peter Rolton, who graduated from Northumbria in 1985, said: “Stephen’s outstanding design shows a depth of lateral thought that has been executed to a very high standard, and is exactly what we need to see when creating the buildings and landscapes of tomorrow.”

The Diploma in Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning was launched in 1964 followed by the BSc Building Services Engineering in 1976. The BEng (Hons) Building Services Engineering was launched in 1984 followed by the MEng variant in 2010. Today, the degree sits within the department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering, which encompasses all of the University’s work in construction (project management) and engineering (architectural/building services, automotive, civil, mechanical and product design).

A top-35 Engineering research department with 79% of its outputs ranked world-leading or internationally excellent according to the latest UK wide research assessment exercise (REF2014, UoA15), Mechanical and Construction Engineering at Northumbria is in the top quartile for world-leading publications among UK universities in General Engineering.

Building Services Engineering at Northumbria has consistently met the needs of business and employers for 50 years, but this event was not just about the degree’s impressive longevity, it was a celebration of its long-standing reputation for academic excellence and the outstanding experience it has provided for its students, both past and present.

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