James Watt Symposium

James Watt Symposium

James Watt Bicentenary Symposium: Opportunities and Challenges for 21st Century Engineering

Wednesday 5 June, Kelvin Gallery, University of Glasgow

The James Watt Bicentenary Symposium is a one-day event to mark the legacy of James Watt and explore the future opportunities and challenges for Engineering. Speakers from academia, industry and the public sector will present on a broad range of topics including James Watt’s legacy, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, space technology, bioengineering, healthcare, water resources and energy systems.

The Symposium is one of a range of events hosted by the University of Glasgow during 2019 to mark the bicentenary of the passing of James Watt, one of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution and mathematical instrument maker to the University of Glasgow.  








Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli FRSA FRSE, Principal, University of Glasgow

Professor Dame Anne Glover DBE FRSE, President, Royal Society of Edinburgh

David Westmore FIES, President, Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland

Professor David Cumming FREng FRSE, Head of School of Engineering, University of Glasgow


The achievements and legacy of James Watt - the greatest and most useful engineer that ever lived? 

Professor Gordon Masterton OBE DL FREng FRSE, Chair of Future Infrastructure, University of Edinburgh








Building brains - artificial and biological intelligence

Professor Steve Furber CBE FREng FRS, ICL Professor of Computer Engineering, University of Manchester








Sensing the world beyond intensity: A future of reconfigurable and dynamic optical devices

The UK space sector: 19+


The current and future of bionic prosthetics


Dr Martin Lavery, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, University of Glasgow

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth, UK Space Agency


Hugh Gill HonFIES, Chief Technology Officer, Touch Bionics


Panel discussion: Engineering opportunities and challenges 






Rethinking drinking water treatment to deliver a sustainable water cycle


Surgery, science, and engineering for functional reanimation after devastating limb trauma

Innovation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution - and the energy systems that will make it possible

Dr Cindy Smith,Royal Academy of Engineering-Scottish Water Senior Research Fellow, University of Glasgow


Professor Andrew Hart FRCS
, Consultant, Canniesburn Plastic Surgery Unit, Glasgow Royal Infirmary



Matthew Williams
, Chief Technology Officer, Faraday Grid


Panel discussion: Engineering opportunities and challenges




Symposium conclusions


Professor Asen Asenov FRSE, James Watt Chair of Electrical Engineering, University of Glasgow

Professor Colin McInnes MBE FREng FRSE, James Watt Chair, Professor of Engineering Science, University of Glasgow

Speaker Biographies

Speaker Biographies

Professor Steve Furber CBE FREng FRS

Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng is ICL Professor of Computer Engineering in the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, UK. After completing a BA in mathematics and a PhD in aerodynamics at the University of Cambridge, UK, he spent the 1980s at Acorn Computers, where he was a principal designer of the BBC Microcomputer and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor. Over 120 billion variants of the ARM processor have since been manufactured, powering much of the world's mobile and embedded computing. He moved to the ICL Chair at Manchester in 1990 where he leads research into neural systems engineering, including the SpiNNaker project that has delivered a computer incorporating a million ARM processors optimised for brain modelling applications.

Hugh Gill HonFIES

Hugh Gill started his engineering career at the age of 16 as an apprentice draughtsman, going on to graduate from Strathclyde University at the age of 25 with a BSc with honours in Mechanical Engineering. Hugh has been with Touch Bionics since 2007 as Director of Technology and Operations serving at the Chief Technology Officer since 2009 and VP of R&D upper limb prosthetics since 2016.  Previous to Touch Bionics Hugh worked in Hugh Smith, Burroughs Machines, James Howden  Unisys, Teknek Electronics  and Polaroid as well as creating Wideblue . Hugh has 17 patents. MacRobert award 2008 ,John Logie Baird award for innovation 2001,. Inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame in 2013, awarded the Saltire Society Fletcher of Saltoun for Outstanding Contribution to Science in 2017. Honorary Member of AAOP (American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists) 2019.

Professor Andrew Hart FRCS(Plast)

Andrew Hart is a leading Hand, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, and Editor of Europe’s leading peer review Journal within the field.  His clinical remits include a National Service for major peripheral nerve injury, and complex reconstructive microsurgery with a particular focus upon functional limb reanimation (recently including hand transplantation). Seeing the future of reconstruction as combining microsurgery, transplant biology, tissue engineering, and intelligent prosthetics, his academic work includes established collaborations addressing nerve regeneration and bone reconstruction through tissue engineering and pharmacotherapy, plus developing pipelines to investigate electronics and biologically interfacing prosthetics.

Dr Martin Lavery

Martin Lavery is a Senior Lecturer, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow and leader of the Structured Photonics Research Group at the University of Glasgow (UofG). His dynamic research group has a track record in investigating fundamental developments in Physics, and successfully applying them to industry inspired engineering challenges. Since 2014, he has successfully attracted over £3.5m in research funding as Principle Investigator (PI), and is coordinator of the H2020 Future and Emerging Technologies (FET-Open) consortium project named Super-pixels. His team have developed a range of research programs that have both resulted in self aligning prototype free-space optical (FSO) communication systems that incorporate Space Division Multiplexing (SDM), advanced passive multiplexers for SDM, new findings in the propagation dynamics of structured light in turbulent environments, novel ultra-wide field of view solar collection optics, and bespoke acoustic wavefront shapers.

Professor Gordon Masterton OBE DL FREng FRSE

Gordon Masterton, formerly Vice President of Jacobs, chairs the Centre for Future Infrastructure within the Edinburgh Futures Institute. A former President of the Institution of Civil Engineers he now chairs its Panel for Historical Engineering Works. He conceived and chairs the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame. He was Chairman of the Construction Industry Council (2009-11), President of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (2009-11) and Vice Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (2002-15). He chaired the Standing Committee on Structural Safety from 2009-16. Various appearances on television and radio on engineering past, present and future.

Catherine Mealing-Jones CPFA

Catherine Mealing-Jones joined the UK Space Agency from the Home Office in January 2012 to lead work on the Agency’s goal of growing the UK space sector. She leads the development of new uses, new users, new applications, new technologies and a new attitude to the use of space in order to grow the space sector. She is a member of the Space Growth Partnership Board. She and her team are responsible for delivering and/or coordinating the government input to the development of Earth observation, telecommunications, and standards working through the EU, ESA and nationally and internationally, she is also responsible for providing the conditions to enable:government/public sector use of space to drive efficiency and effectiveness and to enable growth in the sector through the Space for Smarter Government Programme; the development of regional/local clusters including the UK Space Gateway at Harwell Oxford; incubation and technology transfer opportunities for new companies.

Dr Cindy Smith

Cindy Smith is Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering, University of Glasgow.  She is an environmental microbiologist working at the interface of engineering and biology. Dr Smith’s work is focused on delivering sustainable drinking water treatment solutions by harnessing and directing natural microbial processes to bring to bear on water technologies. She has won a number of prestigious fellowships, including a Science Foundation Ireland Starting Research Grant Fellow (2012-2016), awarded to talented early career researchers and is currently a Royal Academy of Engineering-Scottish Water Senior Research Fellow in Biofiltration by Biological Design (2018-2023).

Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams is a systems architect by nature, mechatronic engineer by education, design leader and facilitator by passion. Matthew’s mission is to provide a conduit of understanding between complex interdependent dynamic systems and the world. In fulfilling Faraday Grid’s ambition to unlock sustainable prosperity through electricity, he advocates for a holistic approach to solving global challenges by making systems better. Beyond being the voice of Faraday, Matthew manages strategic direction and is the author of the company’s ever-growing list of technology patents. Before Faraday Grid, he led a systems engineering company and was responsible for technical-, client- and project management of multi-million dollar projects globally, delivering mission-critical logistics, automation, business and safety systems across the power and process sectors.

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