We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Department of Engineering

Departmental Lectures

Each year the Engineering Department hosts a variety of prestigious annual lectures to commemorate significant individuals to our field of study.

Updates for upcoming events are posted periodically.

Celebrating the Achievements of Women in Honour of International Women's Day

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 - 27 November 1852)

Ada was an English mathematician, a writer, and is often regarded as the first computer programmer. Chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine.

Biography of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was the only child of the poet George Lord Byron and his wife Anne Isabella Milbanke.

Her educational and social exploits brought her into contact with scientists such as Andrew Crosse, Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Michael Faraday and the author Charles Dickens, in which she used to further her education. Ada described her approach as 'poetical science' and herself as an 'Analyst & Metaphysician'.

As a teenager, her mathematical talents led her to an ongoing working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, also known as 'the father of computers', and in particular, Babbage's work on the Analytical Engine.

Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the engine, which she supplemented with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program.

She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching. Her mind-set of 'poetical science' led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.

Durham Lovelace Lecture 2018

with guest speaker Professor Joanna Dorothy Haigh, CBE, FRS, FRMetS

12:00 Friday 9th March
Higginson Building
Room E240
(lunch included)

'Science, the Sun, the Climate and how I ended up in an exciting career I didn't anticipate'

In this talk Professor Haigh will outline some of her work on solar variability and climate and try to offer an objective overview of her career, the decisions she made and the support received.

"Having spent most of my research life investigating various aspects of radiative transfer in theatmosphere it was a chance remark by a solar physicist that sparked my interest in the Sun’sinfluence on climate.

"I have found it a fascinating and rich subject for research. Solar-climatelinks have, of course, been the subject of popular and scientific interest since ancient times butover recent decades the topic has acquired new significance in the context of the need toassess the relative contributions of natural and human factors to climate change.

"So my longstanding interest in weather progressed into a deeper concern with climate, and the opportunityto become co-director of the Grantham Institute (Climate Change and Environment) at Imperial College has opened up for me a whole new career avenue in climate change."


The Higginson Lecture is a prestigious annual event organised by the Department of Engineering at Durham University. The series was set up in recognition of Sir Gordon Higginson's major contribution to the Department. The lecture provides an opportunity for leading engineers and computer scientists to present their perspective on a topical issue within the broad field of engineering and computer science.

Professor Sir Gordon Higginson, one of the two Professors who founded the Department of Engineering in Durham following the formation of Newcastle University, sadly passed away on the 5th November 2011. Sir Gordon was Professor in Durham from 1965 until 1985 when he became Vice-Chancellor at Southampton University. Whilst in Durham he served periods as Dean of Science and Head of the Department of Engineering and was knighted in 1990 for services to education. Professor Higginson was awarded the Durham degree of DSc honoris causa in 1991.

Annual Higginson Lecture 2017 Recap

The 2017 annual lecture was delivered by guest speaker Naomi Wendy ClimerFREng, FIET.

Engineering the Future

“The way we live, work and play is changing fast. Will technology make the world a better place, or is it a threat to our future lives? Is our future going to be spent mostly in virtual reality? Is it a good thing if your dustbin knows more about you than your family does?”

This year’s speaker, Naomi Climer FREng FIET, talked about positive potential applications of future technology such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, and discussed some of the challenges such as cybersecurity, privacy and whether we’ll all lose our jobs to machines. Naomi Climer is a Past President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), her career has been spent in the Broadcast and Communications technology industry including senior roles at the BBC, ITV and Sony both in Europe and the US. An eternal optimist, Naomi made the case for technology’s positive contribution to the future.

This event was sponsored by the IET Northumbria Local Network.


Annual Higginson Lecture 2018

The 2018 annual lecture will be delivered by guest speaker:

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM FREng FRS

President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Cambridge

From Silent Aircraft to Noisy Engineers


Monday 15th of October 2018


Arnold Wolfendale Lecture Theatre, Calman Learning Centre


Refreshments from 17:30

Higginson Lecture – 18:00 to 19:00


As a student, Ann Dowling was inspired to a career in engineering and aeroacoustics by a then topical problem of the noise generated by Concorde, the British/French supersonic passenger aircraft. Her research opened the door to collaborations with the UK defence agency on improving the signal-to-noise ratio of submarines’ sonar systems, with car and tyre manufacturers on tyre-road interaction, and with Rolls-Royce and the power industry on low emission combustion and active and adaptive combustion control. She came back to aeroacoustics to lead the Silent Aircraft Initiative, a large-scale collaborative project between Cambridge and MIT with an ambitious goal and an innovative organisational structure, which has developed a concept aircraft which could take 215 passengers from London to Los Angeles with less fuel and significantly reduced noise levels.

In this talk, Ann will summarise her research at the interface of academia and business and discuss how the lessons she learnt through it have influenced her priorities as President of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering. These include the vital importance of the interface between academia and business and the huge contribution better models of collaboration can make to the outcome of joint research; the role that grand challenges can play as drivers of transformative research; the need for more and better international research co-operation to meet our shared challenges; the requirement for engineers to do more to showcase the impact of their work; and the strong conviction that anyone, no matter what their gender, social or ethnic background, should be able to follow their passion into an engineering career.

Event Sponsors:

  • Institution of Engineering & Technology
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers

How to get published in Nature

Talk by

Juliane Mössinger, Senior Editor, Physical Sciences, London

Thursday 4th October from 12-1pm

Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

Juliane received a BSc in chemistry and environmental chemistry from The University of Wales. MPhil and PhD in atmospheric chemistry from The University of Cambridge and a Research fellowship at The University of Cambridge.

Areas of responsibility include: biogeochemical cycles, geomorphology, atmospheric chemistry and environmental science.*

Registre for the event here

Contact Us

T: +44 (0) 191 334 1700