Prof Richard J Parker - Even less of an engineer: Icons and heroes from a life in engineering


Lecture Theatre 2, Hudson Beare Building or via Teams Webinar


Wednesday, July 5, 2023 - 09:45 to 11:15

Even less of an engineer: Icons and heroes from a life in engineering

Lecture by Prof. Richard J Parker, CBE

Director of Research and Technology 2001-2016, Rolls-Royce Group


This biographical lecture is an account of my journey from Physics Student to internationally recognised engineer. I look at the individuals and the great pieces of technolgy which have inspired me though a long career. I hope these will also inspire a new generation of Engineering Students. The rather cryptic title is a take on the title of Stanley Hookers book, “Not much of an engineer”. This in turn was a repost from a senior engineer at Rolls-Royce when he first introduced himself as a mathematician. Yet he went on to significantly redesign the Merlin Engine during World War II to increase both the ceiling and the speed of the spitfire.


Professor Richard J Parker CBE FREng FRAeS FIMechE FInstP FCGI is Chairman of the Singapore Low Carbon Energy Research Technical Committee, Chairman of the Singapore Aerospace Programme and President of the International Society for Air-Breathing Engines (ISABE). He was Chairman of the European Clean Sky programme until 2019.

Ric is a visiting Professor in Aerospace and Transport Technology at Loughborough University, in Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College and in Materials Engineering at Birmingham University, UK. He has seven Doctorates from various universities worldwide.

Ric joined Rolls-Royce in 1978, and held various posts, including Chief of Composites and Ceramics, Chief of Compressor Engineering, Managing Director – Compressor Systems and Director of Engineering & Technology, Civil Aerospace. From 2001 to 2016, Ric was Director of Research & Technology at Rolls-Royce Group. During this time he was responsible for the direction and co-ordination of Research & Technology programmes across all the Rolls-Royce businesses, worldwide.

Ric gained the CBE for Services to Engineering in 2013 and was named European CTO of the Year in 2014. In 2015, he was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Medal. His most recent achievements include being awarded the Council of European Aerospace Societies Gold Medal, (CEAS) in 2019; and a Public Service Silver Medal by the Prime Minister's Office in Singapore in 2021.

Ric is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Fellow of the City and Guilds Institute. Ric is a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Engineers.

photograph of Prof Richard J Parker smiling
Prof Richard J Parker

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