23 May 2011

Sir William appointed new IChemE president

Sir William Wakeham, former vice chancellor of Southampton University, UK has been appointed as the 70th president of IChemE. He succeeds Desmond King in the post and used his presidential address in London today to highlight the impact that an increasingly diverse membership base will have on the future of IChemE.

Sir William explained to an audience of IChemE members and invited guests that as the location, industry sector and education background of the membership changes, the Institution must evolve: “IChemE is a global organisation with members in 120 countries. But those members are working in a wider range of sectors than ever before and not all of them have what might be called a ‘traditional chemical engineering’ background.

”This trend is going to become increasingly frequent and it’s important that the services, support structure and governance of IChemE meets the needs of a diverse and wide-ranging membership base,” said Sir William.

The presidential address, Thinking outside the pipe – unlocking potential, delivering chemical engineering futures highlighted IChemE’s significant recent growth in China, India, Malaysia, Singapore and North America as well as its established bases in both the UK and Australia.

Sir William also discussed the wide range of industry sectors in which chemical engineers and IChemE members can now be found and explained that members are not necessarily coming from a traditional chemical engineering background.

Sir William retired as vice-chancellor at Southampton University in 2009 following eight years in the post. He previously served at Imperial College London for over 30 years. Sir William was knighted in 2009 for services to chemical engineering and higher education.

A physicist by training who was educated at Exeter University, Sir William has spent much of his career in chemical engineering. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Physics.

Sir William also paid tribute to outgoing president, King and said that he was looking forward to the year ahead: “I follow in the footsteps of a successful and committed president and many more of chemical engineering’s finest before him. It will be a busy year and I look forward to meeting and working with as many IChemE members as I can.”

IChemE chief executive David Brown says that Sir William will have much to offer chemical engineering: “We are looking forward to the year ahead. Sir William is a distinguished and immensely experienced academic who is respected around the world across a wide range of engineering and science disciplines. He will be able to maintain and enhance the strong influence and standing of IChemE and of the chemical engineering profession.”

Monday’s meeting also saw Russell Scott confirmed as IChemE deputy president. Scott is managing director of Uhde Asia Pacific and the Institution’s current international vice-president. He will succeed Sir William as president in May 2012.

William Harper was also elected to IChemE council. Harper, who is also chair of the Institution’s Nuclear Technology Subject Group, succeeds Rachel Toner on Council who steps down along with 2009 president Ian Shott CBE. Harper is a chemical engineer at UK nuclear plant Sellafield.

View the video of the presidential address >>

View the presentation slides >>

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).