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New Director for Cardiff School of Engineering

24 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 300 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.

Ends – ENGIN 2 New Director

To arrange an interview or for more information/photos contact:

Emma Darling

Public Relations

Cardiff University

T: 02920 874 499


Cherrie Summers

School of Engineering

Cardiff University

T: 02920 874421


Notes to editors

1. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

2. Cardiff School of Engineering

Engineering has been taught at Cardiff since 1893. Today, the School of Engineering is regarded as one of the top centres for engineering with teaching and research facilities ranked amongst the best in the British university system following a £35million refurbishment in recent years. Staff members are active in most fields of engineering research. These are split into three main groups: civil engineering; electrical, electronic and systems engineering; and mechanical engineering. Its research has earned the highest ratings in government assessments. Research expertise within civil engineering includes: Materials and Structures – high performance and nano-structured materials; reuse of materials; and efficient computational models for structural integrity assessment; Geoenvironmental engineering – nuclear waste disposal and risk assessment of contaminated soils; land regeneration and reducing material needs for embankments; Hydro-environmental engineering – impact of climate change on flooding; environmental impact of marine renewable energy devices; bio-geochemical cycling of nutrients; carbon and metals; and improved hydro-morphological process predictions for EU WFD compliance. In addition, the School hosts a number of officially designated specialist research centres including the Manufacturing Engineering Centre which became part of the Cardiff School of Engineering in 2010.