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26 August 2010
Cardiff University has appointed Professor Karen Holford as the new Director of Cardiff School of Engineering, one of the premier engineering schools in the UK. The School has around 1,300 undergraduate and postgraduate students and more than 250 staff.
Professor Holford is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. She is the first female Director of the School of Engineering and has won a number of awards for her work in promoting engineering as a career to young women.
She joined the School as a lecturer in 1990 from a position as senior design engineer at AB Electronic Products, where she led a variety of projects with companies such as BMW, Jaguar and Rover. Previously she worked at Rolls-Royce in Bristol. She is an active researcher in the field of acoustic emission with a focus on structures such as bridges and aerospace components and a long track record of successful industrial contracts. She has published more than 120 research papers and been principal investigator on research projects totalling over £4.5M. She led an extensive research programme on bridge monitoring which resulted in widespread international recognition and a licence agreement with Physical Acoustics Ltd. Professor Holford’s team is currently applying these techniques to damage assessment in aircraft landing gear in conjunction with Messier-Dowty Ltd, Physical Acoustics and Sheffield University. Within the School of Engineering she has recently held the posts of Research Institute Leader and Deputy Director for Staff.
Professor Holford said: "I am very much looking forward to my new role as Director of School. The School is widely recognised as one of the best in the UK and this provides an excellent foundation for future development. Our world-leading research is addressing the needs of industry and society whilst our provision of education of the highest quality is contributing to the needs of the economy."
The delivery of high quality teaching and learning has always been a strong interest and Professor Holford was the Faculty Advisor to the Formula Student team for several years. She remains committed to maintaining and improving the high standards of teaching for which the School has become recognised.
She is also committed to achieving greater equality and diversity in the workplace and was the School’s Equality and Diversity champion prior to taking up her post as Director. In 2006 she was awarded "Welsh Woman of the Year in Science and Technology" in recognition of notable achievements in her field and in 2007 was awarded the WISE Excellence award for personal contribution to engineering and a long term commitment to supporting girls and young women in science and engineering.
She replaces Professor Hywel Thomas, who led the School from 2002 - 2010 and has taken up the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and International at Cardiff University. During this time the School has become one of the foremost Engineering schools in the UK. As well as an international reputation for research – the results of the government’s latest research assessment exercise placed the School in the top ten in the UK - it has also a strong teaching portfolio at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and has further strengthened its commitment to working with industry and the local community. In recent years the School has seen significant investment in its research and teaching facilities with the award of funding for a number of major infrastructure projects such as the Centre for Integrated Renewable Energy Generation and Supply, the Gas Turbine Research Centre at Port Talbot, the Structural Performance Laboratory, the Geoenvironmental Research Park, the Corus Centre of Excellence and the Knowledge Transfer Centre.
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