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Oxford Engineering Alumni return to their alma mater

Graduates of the Department of Engineering Science returned to Oxford for a day of tours, lectures and demonstrations, with around 100 former students visiting the Thom building over the course of the day.

Man demonstrating in lab to group of men

Engineering Science Alumni maintain a strong interest in the progress of the Department, and the event gave them a chance to see the range of new laboratories, teaching facilities and equipment housed in the Thom building, as well as get a flavour of recent research activities.

The building tours were organised by the Department as part of the university-wide Alumni Weekend: themed around the notion of ‘Meeting Minds’, this annual event shows off the range and breadth of Oxford’s research and teaching activities.

The Thom Building’s doors opened at 10am for the Department’s student ambassadors to guide groups of Alumni around, with presentations and demos from researchers in the undergraduate labs.

“I really enjoyed the tour, it was great to see the labs again and excellent discussion and questions. It would have been good to see the Fluids lab as well, maybe something for next time. I would definitely continue running the Tours. The afternoon lecture was also very enjoyable.”
-John Skeates, Engineering Science Alumnus


Presentations and talks

In the afternoon, a series of presentations took place in one of our lecture theatres, possibly the same room that the assembled Alumni would have sat in for their very first induction talks when they matriculated at Oxford.

This included the Annual General Meeting of the Oxford Engineering Alumni Association. Paul Buckley, Secretary of the OEA Committee, presented on the group’s efforts over the past year, as well as their upcoming activities.

Head of Department, Professor Lionel Tarassenko, presented an update on his ‘2020 Vision’ of the future of Engineering Science at Oxford. He laid out some of the successes of the past year, and outlined where he sees the Department progressing in the future. To find out more, you can watch Lionel’s talk online.

Professor Tarassenko took this opportunity to present the second annual Matthew Greenwood Award, which honours a student who willingly gives up their time for outreach events and who can successfully relate to young people who are considering studying engineering. This year’s recipient was Stanley Speel, a fourth-year Hertford College undergraduate student who was recognised as having consistently gone the extra mile as a Student Ambassador for Engineering Science at Oxford.

Ana Roomans Ledo, one of our newest alumni and winner of the OEA-sponsored 4th year Project Presentation Prize, gave a talk on her project entitled Automated Quantification of OCT Images for Assessing Stargardt Diease.

Her 4th year project focused on the inherited retinal diseases, such as Stargardt Disease, which account for two out of the four leading causes of blindness, but are very complex to diagnose. Clinicians make use of imaging technologies such as Optical Coherence Tomography to inform their diagnoses. This project aimed to find a way of quantifying these images: aiding diagnosis of the disease, classifying the scans according to the pathology they present, and assessing the disease’s progression. Testing this process on a cohort of 103 healthy subjects and 649 Stargardt sufferers provided results with accuracy of over 99%.

The final talk of the day was the Jenkin Lecture, a prestigious event which sees a leading figure in their field invited to present on their research. This year, the Jenkin Lecture was delivered by Professor Byron Byrne (St Catherine’s College), Royal Academy of Engineering/ Ørsted Research Chair Professor of Advanced Geotechnical Design.

The talk, Engineering Design for Offshore Wind, focused on a major component of the UK’s energy mix, with over 2,000 offshore wind turbines either operational or currently under construction. Professor Byrne’s talk explored how his research is addressing the critical design challenges facing the offshore wind industry, with a focus on civil and geotechnical design.

“Thank you for arranging the Alumni Day on Saturday. I was most impressed by the quality -of the teaching facilities and found the presentations most interesting. Please pass on my thanks to all who gave up their time to make it such a good day.”
          -Rodney Job, Engineering Science Alumnus

The event concluded with a drinks reception in the airy atrium of the Information Engineering Building; this opened in 2004, so many of those present were visiting a building that didn’t exist during their time at Oxford. The drinks reception was a chance for Alumni to reconnect with former classmates, meet fellow Alumni, and chat with current Academics.


Next time

The next Alumni Weekend is scheduled for 20-22 September 2019. We look forward to catching up with even more of our former students; be sure to keep an eye on the Alumni pages of the website for updates.

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s event, you can watch all the presentations online.