Dr Hughes recognised as the 2014 Whitworth Visionary

Dr Ben Hughes from the School of Civil Engineering has been selected by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers's Whitworth Awards Panel as the 2014 Whitworth Visionary.

Dr Ben Hughes

Whitworth Scholarships are awarded to those who possess talent, leadership skills, motivation and a desire to improve their own lives and the lives of those around them.

Sir Joseph Whitworth founded the scholarship in 1868 to provide a link between science and industry, this work continues today with annual undergraduate awards of £18,000 and postgraduate awards of £22,500 for outstanding engineers studying at a UK institution. The original requirements as specified by Sir Joseph of high levels of practical skills and academic achievement remain. Thirteen presidents of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers have been Whitworth Scholars.

Dr Hughes served a full four year apprenticeship with Shell UK from 1994-1998, remaining as a shift maintenance engineer whilst studying part time. After achieving 1st Class honours in Mechanical Engineering, Dr Hughes undertook a PhD in Natural Ventilation in Buildings, at Sheffield Hallam University, supported by a Whitworth Senior Scholarship and an EPSRC CASE studentship. He then moved to Heriot Watt University, Dubai campus, where he set up an energy research group looking at reducing the air conditioning load in the Middle East.

Over the last five years Dr Hughes has built a leading building physics research group attracting over £2.5 million in external funding, produced 40 publications, six UK patents and has two commercial licence agreements for his Intellectual Property. He has recently launched a university spin-out company “Free Running Buildings” with the IP Group to capitalize on the innovative research his team are developing.

Currently he is working with Qatar University to develop cooling strategies for the new stadiums and infrastructure to support the FIFA 2022 World Cup, and is conducting field trials of his novel zero energy building cooling system in Abu Dhabi in support of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

His team consists of two post-doctoral fellows, 14 PhD students and has now transferred to the Energy Technology and Innovation Initiative (ETII) to further build this area of research. Dr Hughes is an Associate Professor at the University of Leeds, a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the IMechE. In 2014 Dr Hughes will serve as vice-president of the Whitworth Society for award holders and elected Whitworth Scholars. 

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