Royal Academy of Engineering: The Definitive Guide to Its Past, Present, and Future

Royal Academy of Engineering: The Definitive Guide to Its Past, Present, and Future

Since its founding in 1976, the Royal Academy of Engineering has been a key leader in the UK’s engineering community. It has played a key role in promoting innovation, addressing global challenges, and shaping the field’s future.

This, the first in our guides exploring the history of British engineering institutions, delves into the Royal Academy of Engineering’s history, from its beginnings as the Fellowship of Engineering to its current status as a driving force in the industry. We explore the Academy’s mission, its notable members, and the advancements it has spearheaded.

We hope this is more than just a look back; it should also be a glimpse into the future. Today, we stand on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the Royal Academy of Engineering is poised to lead the way in tackling the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

So join us as we embark on a journey through time, celebrating the past and anticipating the innovations of tomorrow. Whether you’re an aspiring engineer, a seasoned professional, or someone passionate about progress, this guide will give you a deeper understanding of the Royal Academy of Engineering and its enduring impact on our world.

What is the Royal Academy of Engineering?

The Royal Academy of Engineering is the UK’s national Academy for engineering and technology. It brings together the most prominent engineers to promote excellence in engineering and works to advance and support engineering innovation and businesses.

The Royal Academy of Engineering, founded in 1976, is the United Kingdom’s national Academy of Engineering and Technology. It is an independent, chartered charitable organization that brings together the country’s most distinguished engineers from all disciplines to advance and promote excellence in engineering for society’s benefit.

Mission and objectives

The Royal Academy of Engineering has a clear mission: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. It works to support the development of successful engineering innovations and businesses, address the engineering skills crisis, and inspire the next generation of engineers.

According to the Academy’s website, its strategic challenges include “making the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses”, “addressing the engineering skills crisis”, and “positioning engineering at the heart of society.” These challenges guide the Academy’s work and initiatives.

The Academy’s work spans various areas, from education and skills to innovation and entrepreneurship. It provides policy advice to the government, promotes engineering to the public, and supports engineering research and innovation through grants and prizes.

Fellowship and partnerships

One of the Royal Academy of Engineering’s key strengths is its Fellowship. The Academy’s Fellows are elected based on their exceptional contributions to engineering. As of 2021, there were over 1,600 Fellows, including eminent engineers from academia and industry and international Fellows.

The Academy also partners with various organizations, both in the UK and internationally, to deliver its mission. These partnerships span government, industry, academia, and the wider engineering profession.

For example, the Academy works closely with the UK government to provide expert advice on engineering policy issues. It also partners with industry to support innovation and entrepreneurship through its Enterprise Hub program, which supports early-stage engineering entrepreneurs.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is vital in promoting and advancing engineering in the UK and beyond through its diverse activities and partnerships. Its work ensures that engineering drives economic growth, social progress, and technological innovation in the 21st century.

The Royal Academy’s Founding and Early Years

  • Established in 1976 as the Fellowship of Engineering
  • Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1983 and renamed the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992
  • Supported by prominent figures like HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as Senior Fellow

Establishment in 1976

In 1976, the Fellowship of Engineering was founded to promote excellence in engineering and to bring together the most eminent engineers from all disciplines to advance and promote excellence in engineering. The Fellowship was established with the support of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who served as the Senior Fellow.


The Fellowship aimed to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and to encourage the application of engineering knowledge for the benefit of society. It also sought to enhance the status and visibility of the engineering profession and to attract young people to pursue careers in engineering.

Incorporation by Royal Charter in 1983

In 1983, the Fellowship of Engineering was incorporated by Royal Charter, which formally recognized its status as a learned society and its role in promoting engineering excellence. The Royal Charter defined the Fellowship’s objectives, governance structure, and membership criteria.

Incorporating the Royal Charter was a significant milestone for the Fellowship, as it provided a formal legal framework for its activities and gave it the prestige and credibility associated with the Royal Charter.

Renaming to the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1992

1992 the Fellowship of Engineering was renamed the Royal Academy of Engineering. This change reflected the organization’s growing prominence, influence, and role as the UK’s national Academy for engineering.

The renaming also signalled a broader shift in the Academy’s focus and activities. While continuing to promote excellence in engineering, the Academy also began to take on a more active role in shaping public policy related to engineering and technology.

Key figures in the Academy’s foundation

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s founding and early years were shaped by the contributions of several key figures, including:

  1. HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh: As the Senior Fellow, Prince Philip played a crucial role in establishing the Fellowship of Engineering and providing it with royal patronage. His involvement helped raise the organization’s profile and attract support from industry and government.
  2. Sir Denis Rooke: Sir Denis Rooke, a prominent engineer and industrialist, served as the first President of the Fellowship of Engineering from 1976 to 1981. He helped to establish the Fellowship’s initial objectives and governance structure.
  3. Sir Robert Malpas: Sir Robert Malpas, another leading engineer and industrialist, succeeded Sir Denis Rooke as President of the Fellowship from 1981 to 1986. The Fellowship was incorporated by Royal Charter during his tenure and continued to grow in influence.

Funding and support

The Royal Academy of Engineering has received funding and support from a variety of sources since its founding. These include:

  • Individual and corporate donations: The Academy has benefited from the generosity of individual donors and corporate sponsors who have provided financial support for its activities.
  • Government grants: The Academy has received funding from the UK government to support its work in promoting engineering excellence and providing expert advice on engineering-related issues.
  • Membership subscriptions: The Academy’s members, elected based on their outstanding contributions to engineering, pay annual subscriptions that help fund the Academy’s activities.

While the Royal Academy of Engineering is not a traditional charity, it is a registered charity in England, Wales, and Scotland. This means it is exempt from paying taxes on its income and gains as long as they are used for charitable purposes.

As the Academy has grown and evolved, its funding and support have also diversified. Today, the Academy receives funding from a wide range of sources, reflecting its broad mandate and the importance of its work in promoting engineering excellence and shaping public policy.

The Academy’s early initiatives and programs

In its early years, the Royal Academy of Engineering launched several initiatives and programs to promote engineering excellence and engage with the broader public. These included:

  1. The MacRobert Award: Established in 1969, the MacRobert Award is the UK’s longest-running and most prestigious national prize for engineering innovation. It recognizes outstanding engineering achievements that demonstrate commercial success and societal benefit.
  2. The Academy’s Fellowship: The Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship comprises the UK’s most eminent engineers from academia and industry. Fellows are elected based on their exceptional contributions to engineering and ability to promote the Academy’s mission.
  3. Engineering education programs: The Academy has been involved in various initiatives to promote engineering education and encourage young people to pursue careers in engineering. These have included programs to support engineering teaching in schools and universities and public outreach activities to raise awareness of engineering’s importance.

The Academy’s growing influence

As the Royal Academy of Engineering established itself in its early years, it significantly influenced engineering policy and practice in the UK. Government, industry, and academia sought the Academy’s expert advice and guidance on a range of engineering-related issues.

The Academy also played a role in shaping the direction of engineering research and education in the UK. Through its programs and initiatives, the Academy helped to identify and support key areas of engineering research and to promote best practices in engineering education.

Over time, the Royal Academy of Engineering has become a respected and influential voice in the UK engineering landscape. Its work has helped raise the profile of engineering and ensure that engineering expertise is applied to some of society’s most pressing challenges.

As the Academy has grown and evolved, it has remained committed to its core mission of promoting excellence in engineering and harnessing the power of engineering for the benefit of society. In the following sections, we will explore how the Academy has continued to pursue this mission in its more recent history and its plans for the future.

Pioneering members and their achievements

The Royal Academy of Engineering has been home to numerous pioneering members who have made significant contributions to the field. One such member is Sir Frank Whittle, the jet engine inventor. Whittle’s invention revolutionized air travel and military aviation, enabling faster and more efficient flight. His work laid the foundation for modern jet propulsion technology, transforming transportation and commerce worldwide.

Another notable pioneer is Sir Maurice Wilkes, a pioneer of computer science. Wilkes developed the concept of microprogramming, which greatly influenced the design of modern computers. He also led the development of the EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator), one of the first stored-program computers. Wilkes’ contributions to computer science have impacted the field and continue to shape how we interact with technology today.

Dame Ann Dowling, a leading researcher in combustion and acoustics, has contributed significantly to understanding noise generation and control. Her work has led to the development of quieter aircraft engines and improved the efficiency of combustion processes. Dowling’s research has also focused on aviation’s environmental impact, helping reduce emissions and improve sustainability in the industry.

Current Influential Fellows

The Royal Academy of Engineering continues to attract and support influential Fellows who are shaping the future of engineering. Sir James Dyson, inventor and entrepreneur, is known for his innovative designs in vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, and other household appliances. Dyson’s company has become a global brand recognized for its cutting-edge technology and sleek design. His work has inspired a new generation of engineers to think creatively and push the boundaries of what is possible.

Lord Browne of Madingley, former CEO of BP, has been a driving force in the energy industry. Under his leadership, BP expanded its operations and invested heavily in renewable energy sources. Browne has also been a vocal advocate for addressing climate change and promoting sustainability in the energy sector. His insights and experience have helped shape global energy policies and encouraged the development of cleaner technologies.

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden, a leading chemical engineer, has significantly contributed to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and catalysis. Her research has led to developing new techniques for studying complex fluid flows and chemical reactions, which have applications in medicine, energy, and environmental science. Gladden’s work has also focused on developing sustainable technologies, such as using biomass for fuel production.

The impact of influential Fellows on society

The work of these influential Fellows has profoundly impacted society, improving the quality of life for people around the world. From developing more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies to medical imaging and treatment advances, their contributions have touched nearly every aspect of modern life.

For example, Sir James Dyson’s innovative designs have made household chores simpler and more efficient while also reducing energy consumption and waste. Lord Browne’s leadership in the energy industry has helped drive the transition towards cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, which is crucial for addressing climate change and ensuring a sustainable future.

Professor Dame Lynn Gladden’s research in MRI and catalysis can revolutionize medical diagnostics and treatment and improve the efficiency and sustainability of chemical processes. Her work is a prime example of how engineering can be applied to solve complex problems and improve the human condition.

The importance of recognizing and supporting engineering talent

The Royal Academy of Engineering plays a vital role in recognizing and supporting the work of these pioneering members and influential Fellows. By providing funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities, the Academy helps foster innovation and collaboration in engineering.

Moreover, by celebrating the achievements of these notable engineers, the Academy inspires future generations to pursue careers in engineering and to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This is essential for addressing society’s complex challenges, from climate change to global health to sustainable development.

In conclusion, the notable engineers and their contributions highlighted in this section demonstrate the incredible potential of engineering to transform society and improve lives. By recognizing and supporting this talent, the Royal Academy of Engineering is helping to ensure a bright future for the field and the world.

Initiatives to Promote Innovation

The Royal Academy of Engineering has launched several initiatives to encourage innovation and support the growth of cutting-edge technologies. One such program is the Engineering Enterprise Fellowships, which provide funding and mentorship to early-career engineers with entrepreneurial ambitions. These fellowships have helped numerous engineers develop innovative ideas into successful businesses, contributing to the UK’s economic growth and technological advancement.

Another notable initiative is the Launchpad competition, which targets tech startups with the potential to address pressing social and environmental issues. The competition offers funding, training, and access to a network of experts, enabling these startups to refine their products and scale their impact. Some of the most successful Launchpad participants have secured significant investments and partnerships, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Academy’s support.

The Academy also fosters industry-academia collaborations to bridge the gap between research and real-world applications. By facilitating partnerships between universities and companies, the Academy ensures that cutting-edge research is translated into tangible solutions that benefit society. These collaborations have led to groundbreaking advancements in renewable energy, artificial intelligence, and materials science.

Case Study: Spinetic Energy

One notable example of a successful industry-academia collaboration is Spinetic Energy, a startup that emerged from the University of Oxford. Spinetic Energy developed a novel flywheel energy storage system that offers a more sustainable and cost-effective alternative to traditional batteries. With support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Spinetic Energy partnered with leading energy companies to refine and scale their technology, ultimately securing significant investments and contracts.

Addressing Global Challenges

The Royal Academy of Engineering recognizes engineers’ crucial role in addressing the world’s most pressing challenges. As such, the Academy has initiated several projects and programs focused on sustainable development, climate change mitigation, healthcare technologies, and resilient infrastructure.

In sustainable development, the Academy has supported numerous projects to reduce carbon emissions and promote the adoption of renewable energy sources. For example, the Academy has funded research into advanced materials for solar cells, leading to more efficient and affordable solar panels. Additionally, the Academy has collaborated with industry partners to develop innovative solutions for energy storage, such as advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

Healthcare technologies and biomedical engineering have also been a key focus area for the Academy. Engineers supported by the Academy have made significant strides in developing advanced prosthetics, medical imaging technologies, and drug delivery systems. These advancements can improve patient outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and enhance the quality of life for millions of people worldwide.

Project Highlight: 3D-Printed Bionic Hands

One remarkable project supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering is the development of 3D-printed bionic hands. In collaboration with healthcare professionals and patient advocates, a team of engineers has created a low-cost, customizable bionic hand that can be easily manufactured using 3D printing technology. This innovation can potentially revolutionize the field of prosthetics, making advanced bionic limbs accessible to a much broader population.

The Academy has also been at the forefront of efforts to build resilient infrastructure and smart cities. Engineers supported by the Academy have developed advanced sensors, data analytics tools, and simulation models to optimize the design and operation of urban infrastructure. These technologies have been applied to projects ranging from flood prevention and traffic management to energy-efficient buildings and intelligent grids.

Initiative Spotlight: The Future Cities Programme

The Future Cities Programme is a flagship initiative of the Royal Academy of Engineering that brings together engineers, urban planners, and policymakers to tackle the challenges of urbanization. The programme supports interdisciplinary research, pilot projects, and knowledge sharing to promote sustainable, resilient, livable city development. Key focus areas include urban mobility, energy efficiency, waste management, and climate change adaptation.

These initiatives and projects demonstrate the Royal Academy of Engineering’s commitment to fostering innovation and addressing global challenges. By supporting cutting-edge research and collaboration, the Academy is helping to drive technological advancements and improve the quality of life for people worldwide.

The Academy’s Evolving Role and Future Initiatives

  • Championing diversity and inclusion in engineering
  • Shaping public policy and engaging with government
  • Adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Royal Academy of Engineering is crucial in advancing engineering in the UK. As technology and society evolve, the Academy continues to adapt its initiatives and priorities to ensure that engineering remains at the forefront of innovation and progress.

Championing diversity and inclusion in engineering

The Academy recognizes the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive engineering community. Through its Diversity and Inclusion Programme, launched in 2011, the Academy aims to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in engineering, such as women, ethnic minorities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Academy’s STEM education outreach initiatives focus on engaging with schools and communities to inspire the next generation of engineers. By showcasing the exciting opportunities available in engineering and providing mentorship and support, the Academy hopes to attract a more diverse range of individuals to the field.

Diversity and Inclusion Programme

The Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion Programme includes a range of initiatives, such as:

  • Diversity Leadership Group: A group of senior industry leaders who champion diversity and inclusion within their organizations and across the engineering sector.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Progression Framework: A tool that helps engineering organizations assess their current diversity and inclusion practices and identify areas for improvement.
  • Inclusive Recruitment Guidance: A set of guidelines and best practices for recruiting a diverse workforce in engineering.

Shaping public policy and engaging with government

As a leading voice for the engineering profession, the Royal Academy of Engineering actively shapes public policy and engages with the government on engineering-related issues. The Academy provides expert advice and guidance to policymakers, ensuring that engineering considerations are taken into account in decision-making processes.

The Academy also works to influence education and skills policies to ensure the UK has a strong pipeline of engineering talent. This includes advocating for increased investment in STEM education, promoting apprenticeships and vocational training, and supporting the development of new engineering degree programs.

Providing expert advice on engineering-related issues

The Academy’s Fellows and staff possess expertise across various engineering disciplines. This knowledge is leveraged to provide evidence-based advice to the government and other stakeholders on a range of issues, such as:

  • Infrastructure planning and development
  • Energy and Climate Change Policy
  • Transportation and mobility
  • Manufacturing and Industry 4.0

By engaging with policymakers and offering expert insights, the Academy helps to ensure that engineering considerations are at the heart of public policy decisions.

Adapting to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterized by the rapid advancement of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation, is transforming the engineering landscape. The Royal Academy of Engineering recognizes the need to adapt to these changes and support the development of ethical and responsible technologies.

The Academy’s initiatives in this area focus on preparing engineers for the impact of these technologies on their work and ensuring that ethical principles and considerations guide the development and deployment of these technologies.

Preparing for the impact of AI, robotics, and automation

The Academy works to equip engineers with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the age of AI and automation. This includes:

  • Developing training programs and resources on AI, machine learning, and other emerging technologies
  • Collaborating with industry partners to identify future skill requirements and adapt engineering curricula accordingly
  • Researching the impact of automation on the engineering workforce and developing strategies to support workers through the transition

Supporting the development of ethical and responsible technologies

As technological advancement accelerates, it is crucial to ensure that new technologies are developed and deployed ethically and responsibly. The Academy plays a vital role in this area by:

  • Developing ethical frameworks and guidelines for the development and use of AI and other emerging technologies in engineering
  • Engaging with the public and other stakeholders to build trust and understanding around the use of these technologies
  • Advocating for the responsible and transparent deployment of AI and automation in engineering applications

The difference between the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering

While the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering are prestigious organizations promoting science and technology in the UK, they have distinct roles and focuses.

The Royal Society, founded on 28 November 1660, is the UK’s national Academy of Sciences. It covers various scientific disciplines, including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, and earth sciences. The Royal Society’s mission is to promote scientific excellence, support scientific research, and engage with the public on scientific issues.

In contrast, the Royal Academy of Engineering, founded in June 1976, is the UK’s national Academy for Engineering and Technology. It focuses specifically on engineering and its applications. The Academy’s mission is to advance and promote excellence in engineering, support the development of engineering talent, and provide expert advice on engineering-related issues to government and industry.

How Does the Royal Academy of Engineering Work?

  • Governed by a Trustee Board and Council, led by a President and Vice Presidents
  • Funded through government grants, corporate partnerships, and individual donations
  • Operates through a network of committees, working groups, and regional hubs

The Royal Academy of Engineering is a complex organization with a well-defined governance structure and diverse funding sources. Let’s examine how the Academy functions and the key elements that enable it to fulfill its mission.

Governance and leadership structure

The Academy is governed by a trustee board and council responsible for setting the overall strategy and ensuring the organization’s effective management. The Trustee Board comprises eminent engineers and leaders from academia, industry, and the public sector who bring expertise and experience.

The role of the President and Vice Presidents

The Academy’s leader is the President, who is elected by the Fellowship for a five-year term. The President is supported by several Vice Presidents, each focusing on specific areas such as education, research, and international affairs. Together, they provide strategic direction and represent the Academy at various national and international forums.

The President and Vice Presidents work closely with the Chief Executive, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Academy and the implementation of its strategic objectives. The Chief Executive is supported by a dedicated team of professionals who oversee various departments, including policy, communications, and finance.

Funding sources and partnerships

The Academy’s work is made possible through diverse funding sources, including government grants, corporate partnerships, and individual donations. These funds support the Academy’s various initiatives, from research projects and policy advice to education and public engagement programs.

Government grants and endowments

Most of the Academy’s funding comes from government grants and endowments. The UK government recognizes the importance of engineering in driving economic growth and addressing societal challenges and provides financial support to the Academy through various channels, including the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), and the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT).

Corporate partnerships and sponsorships

The Academy also works closely with industry partners, providing financial support and practical expertise. These partnerships are mutually beneficial, as they allow the Academy to tap into the latest technological advancements and industry trends while providing companies with access to cutting-edge research and a platform to showcase their commitment to engineering excellence.

Some of the Academy’s critical corporate partners include major engineering firms, technology companies, and professional services organizations. These partnerships often involve collaborative research projects, jointly organized events, and sponsorship of the Academy’s various programs and initiatives.

Individual donations and legacies

Finally, the Academy also relies on the generosity of individual donors and benefactors, who support its work through one-off donations, regular giving, and legacy bequests. These contributions are vital in helping the Academy maintain its independence and pursue long-term, high-impact projects that may only sometimes attract commercial or government funding.

The Academy’s fundraising team works closely with donors to ensure that their contributions are used effectively and in accordance with their wishes. Donors can support specific programs or initiatives or provide unrestricted funding that allows the Academy to allocate resources where they are needed most.

Committees and working groups

To effectively address the diverse challenges facing the engineering profession and society, the Academy operates through a network of committees and working groups. These bodies bring together experts from academia, industry, and the public sector to explore specific issues, share knowledge, and develop evidence-based recommendations.

Some of the key committees and working groups within the Academy include:

  • The Education and Skills Committee, which focuses on enhancing engineering education and promoting STEM careers
  • The Research and Innovation Committee, which supports and promotes cutting-edge engineering research
  • The Policy and Public Affairs Committee, which provides expert advice to policymakers and engages with the public on engineering-related issues

Each committee and working group is chaired by a leading expert in the field, who is joined by a diverse range of members with complementary skills and experiences. The groups meet regularly to discuss emerging trends, review progress on ongoing projects, and identify new opportunities for collaboration and impact.

Regional hubs and international partnerships

In addition to its central London headquarters, the Academy operates through a network of regional hubs and international partnerships. These hubs, located in key cities across the UK, help engage local communities, support regional engineering initiatives, and promote the Academy’s mission at a grassroots level.

The Academy also maintains international solid partnerships with engineering organizations and academies worldwide. These partnerships facilitate knowledge exchange, collaborative research, and the sharing of best practices, ensuring that the Academy remains at the forefront of global engineering developments.

Some of the Academy’s critical international partners include:

  • The US National Academy of Engineering
  • The Chinese Academy of Engineering
  • The Indian National Academy of Engineering

Through these partnerships, the Academy contributes to and learns from global efforts to advance engineering excellence and address global challenges such as climate change, sustainable development, and technological disruption.

Advancing engineering excellence

By leveraging its governance structure, diverse funding sources, expert committees, and global partnerships, the Royal Academy of Engineering effectively promotes engineering excellence and tackles society’s complex challenges. As the Academy continues to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape of engineering, it remains committed to its core mission of harnessing the power of engineering for society’s benefit.

Whether through supporting cutting-edge research, providing expert policy advice, or inspiring the next generation of engineers, the Academy plays a vital role in shaping the future of engineering in the UK and beyond. As we move into an increasingly complex and interconnected world, the work of the Academy has never been more important or relevant.

The Royal Academy of Engineering has significantly impacted the engineering landscape in the UK and beyond. Through its various initiatives, the Academy has been instrumental in advancing engineering research, nurturing future engineers, and celebrating engineering excellence.

Advancing engineering research and education

The Academy plays a crucial role in driving engineering research and education forward. It supports cutting-edge research through its Research Chairs and Fellowships, which provide funding and resources to leading engineers and scientists. These programmes enable researchers to tackle complex engineering challenges and develop innovative solutions that benefit society.

In addition to research, the Academy is committed to supporting the next generation of engineers. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships to talented students, helping them pursue their engineering education and develop skills. The Academy also provides professional development programmes for engineers at various stages of their careers, ensuring they have the knowledge and expertise needed to succeed.

Celebrating engineering excellence

The Royal Academy of Engineering recognizes and celebrates outstanding achievements in engineering through its prestigious awards and prizes. The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, awarded every two years, is a global prize that honours groundbreaking engineering innovations that have significantly impacted humanity. Past winners include the creators of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and GPS technology.

Another prestigious Academy award, the MacRobert Award, recognizes outstanding engineering innovation in the UK. It celebrates the successful development and commercialization of innovative ideas, highlighting the importance of engineering in driving economic growth and improving lives.

Engaging the public with engineering

The Academy also plays a vital role in engaging the public with engineering through its Ingenious public engagement grants. These grants support creative projects that aim to inspire and inform the public about the role of engineering in society. By fostering public understanding and appreciation of engineering, the Academy helps promote the profession and attract future generations.

The Royal Academy of Engineering’s impact extends beyond its awards and grants. It also provides expert advice to policymakers, influencing government decisions related to engineering and technology. The Academy’s Fellows, some of the most distinguished engineers in the UK and beyond, contribute their knowledge and expertise to help shape public policy and address societal challenges.

The Academy’s values, which include progressive leadership, diversity and inclusion, excellence everywhere, collaboration first, and creativity and innovation, guide its work and ensure it remains a leading voice in the engineering community.

How to Get Involved with the Royal Academy of Engineering

  • Become a Fellow or Associate to join a community of leading engineers
  • Participate in events and programmes to engage with the public and industry
  • Access resources and publications to stay informed on the latest engineering developments

Becoming a Fellow or Associate

The Royal Academy of Engineering offers two main types of membership: Fellow and Associate. Becoming a Fellow is the highest membership level, recognizing individuals who have made significant contributions to engineering. To become a Fellow, one must be nominated and elected by existing Fellows. The nomination process involves submitting a detailed application highlighting the candidate’s achievements and impact on the engineering profession.

Criteria for membership

To be considered for Fellowship, candidates must demonstrate:

  • Exceptional contributions to engineering, including research, innovation, or leadership
  • A track record of promoting engineering excellence and advancing the field
  • Commitment to the Academy’s mission of harnessing the power of engineering for the benefit of society

Associates are early to mid-career engineers who show great promise and potential. The criteria for associate membership are less stringent than for Fellowship, but they still require a strong track record of achievement and a commitment to professional development.

Participating in events and programmes

The Royal Academy of Engineering offers a wide range of events and programmes for members and the public to engage with the latest developments in engineering. These include:

Annual Academy Awards Dinner

The Annual Academy Awards Dinner is a prestigious event celebrating engineering excellence. It brings together leading engineers, industry representatives, and policymakers to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions to the field. Attending the dinner provides opportunities for networking, knowledge sharing, and showcasing your work.

Ingenia magazine and online resources

Ingenia is the Academy’s flagship magazine, featuring articles on cutting-edge engineering projects, profiles of leading engineers, and discussions of critical issues facing the profession. As a member, you’ll receive regular copies of Ingenia and have access to a wealth of online resources, including webinars, podcasts, and research papers.

Public lectures and exhibitions

The Academy regularly hosts public lectures and exhibitions to engage the wider community with engineering. These events cover a broad range of topics, from the latest advances in artificial intelligence to sustainable development challenges. Participating in these events as a speaker or attendee is a great way to share your expertise, learn from others, and inspire the next generation of engineers. For example, the Academy’s recent lecture on “Engineering a Sustainable Future” brought together experts from academia, industry, and government to discuss the role of engineering in addressing climate change.

By getting involved with the Royal Academy of Engineering through membership, events, and resources, you’ll have the opportunity to shape the profession’s future, collaborate with leading engineers, and contribute to solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The Future of the Royal Academy of Engineering

  • Accelerating the path to net-zero carbon emissions, enhancing the UK’s engineering capabilities post-Brexit, and harnessing digital technologies
  • Collaborating with international partners to address global challenges and foster a worldwide engineering community
  • Investing in talent development, promoting diversity and inclusion, and engaging with the public to inspire future generations of engineers

Strategic priorities for the coming decade

The Royal Academy of Engineering has identified three key strategic priorities to guide its efforts over the next ten years. These priorities are designed to address some of the most pressing challenges facing society and the engineering profession.

Accelerating the path to net-zero carbon emissions

The Academy recognizes the urgent need to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As such, it will focus on supporting developing and deploying low-carbon technologies, such as renewable energy, energy storage, and carbon capture and storage. The Academy will also work with policymakers, industry, and academia to develop roadmaps and strategies for achieving net-zero emissions across various sectors of the economy.

Enhancing the UK’s engineering capabilities post-Brexit

With the UK’s departure from the European Union, the Academy will play a crucial role in ensuring that the country’s engineering sector remains competitive and attractive to global talent. This will involve working with the government and industry to develop new trade agreements, regulatory frameworks, and skills development programs that support UK engineering growth.

Harnessing the power of data and digital technologies

The rapid advancement of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and big data analytics, is transforming the engineering landscape. The Academy will support the engineering community in leveraging these technologies to drive innovation, improve efficiency, and create new business opportunities.

 Engineering a Brighter Future

The Royal Academy of Engineering has been advancing engineering excellence in the UK for nearly half a century. From its founding in 1976 to its current role in shaping the future of engineering, the Academy has consistently championed innovation, education, and collaboration.

As we look ahead, the Academy’s mission to harness the power of engineering for the benefit of society has never been more critical. How will you contribute to this vital work?


  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, founded in 1976, is the UK’s national academy for engineering
  • It promotes engineering excellence through fellowships, awards, education initiatives, policy advice and more
  • Notable pioneering members advanced fields like jet engines, computers, combustion, acoustics, and imaging
  • Current influential Fellows are driving innovation in areas like household products, energy, and chemical engineering
  • The Academy champions diversity, shapes public policy, and is adapting to the impact of AI and automation
  • It operates through a network of committees, regional hubs and international partnerships
  • Key priorities are accelerating net-zero emissions, enhancing post-Brexit capabilities and harnessing digital tech
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