Cambridge University Reporter

Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Professorship of Service and Support Engineering

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. It is increasingly recognized that the design and operation of engineered products such as aircraft, aero-engines, railways, and power generation equipment is closely linked to service. Service involves a wide range of activities from initial design through routine maintenance to repair, upgrading, and sustainability. The growing complexity of products, the demand for extended periods of use and the emerging capabilities of remote monitoring of performance and condition have moved the field of service from an activity of modest technical significance to one of considerable conceptual and operational sophistication demanding a broad multi-disciplinary approach. The opportunities for the creation of more durable products, demanding less resource for their creation and use and sustainable over extended periods, are considerable.

2. The Department of Engineering has a wide range of expertise related to modern service activity including the design of complex products, the development of sensors, and advanced control. Recent developments in product identification and tracking - also known as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies - have further enhanced the Department's capabilities. The Manufacturing and Management Division of the Department has established expertise in working across the interfaces between engineering, management, and economics through its EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funded Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (IMRC). The Division is recognized as a leading international centre and enjoys excellent international academic and industrial links. There has been substantial growth in its teaching and research activities over recent years.

3. The growing importance of Service and Support Engineering is reflected in the wish of the Royal Academy of Engineering and BAE Systems to meet the full costs of a Professorship in the field at Cambridge. The EPSRC has declared its support for the initiative and will offer research funds of up to half the industrial contribution. The Professorship would be for a fixed term of five years in the first instance with no initial commitment to continuation. These developments represent an exciting opportunity for the University to take an internationally leading position in this area drawing on its current expertise and developing the academic foundations of the field. The University is uniquely well-placed by virtue of its experience, expertise, and external networks to take full advantage of the opportunity.

4. The proposal has the support of the Faculty Board of Engineering and the Council of the School of Technology. The General Board have accepted the proposal and are satisfied that an appointment at this level will be likely to attract a strong field of applicants. They are assured that suitable accommodation is available for the Professor and the Department has undertaken to provide the necessary support and facilities. The Board have agreed that election to the Professorship should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors and that candidature should be open to all persons whose work falls within the title of the Professorship.

5. The General Board recommend:

That a Professorship of Service and Support Engineering be established in the University for five years from 1 October 2005, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Engineering.