Visiting Professorship in Innovation

8th November 2017

Colin Cunningham

Colin Cunningham has been awarded a Visiting Professorship in Innovation, Instrumentation and Systems Engineering by the Royal Academy of Engineering. It is based at the Scottish Microelectronics Centre in the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. He started a three year employment at the beginning of October, and will be working on it for about half a day a week, combined with his part-time role as Technology Champion at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

The aim of this Visiting Professorship is to provide students with insights into real-world problems including how to tackle and solve them, in particular in the field of scientific instrumentation. It will take a systems engineering approach to showing students that there is more to successful projects than technical know-how and expertise. It will take examples from the challenging and exciting fields of astronomical instrumentation and space science, as well as other areas of scientific instrumentation. In depth lectures will take lessons from example projects such as building the world’s biggest ground-based and space telescopes and associated instruments and systems, and will be inspiring as well as instructional. The lessons learned from these challenging projects are applicable across a wide range of application areas. The plan is to include some of the human factors that are vital to success in big projects, such as team working and communication skills. It is expected that this approach will be valuable in many of the engineering discipline across the School at the University of Edinburgh, but the initial programme will be developed within the Electronics Teaching Discipline, with a view to expanding as the programme develops.

Until recently, Colin was the Programme Director for the UK part of the Extremely Large Telescope, and this and previous experience such as being Systems Engineer on the SPIRE instrument for the Herschel Space Observatory and leading European technology development and forecasting programmes will form the basis of the experience he can draw on for the Visiting Professorship.