Published: 27 September 2013

Ambrose Fleming Medal honours 40 years’ research in satellite communications for Surrey professor

This year’s prestigious IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) Ambrose Fleming Medal has been awarded to Professor Barry Evans in recognition of his exceptional contribution in the field of communications.

The honour recognises a 40-year career during which Professor Barry Evans has made research breakthroughs in signal processing, radio propagation and satellite systems. He has also contributed to entrepreneurial activities paving the way for the development of secure mobile phones that cannot be ‘tapped’.

The founder and former Director of the University’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR), Professor Evans championed the concept of university-based research centres that operate autonomously and built links with industry. Now an extremely successful research centre with over 40 research fellows, over 100 PhD students and a research portfolio of £12m, CCSR is one of four major research centres in Electronic Engineering at Surrey and one of the largest in Europe.

Having spent time both in academia and industry – including a period with Cable & Wireless as a satellite systems consultant – Professor Barry Evans has pioneered a number of initiatives aimed at building bridges between the two. He began his career as one of three British Telecom-sponsored staff at the University of Essex, where he was responsible for setting up the UK’s first telecommunications systems degree courses. He also set up the government-funded Mobile Virtual Centre of Excellence in the 1990s – a collaboration between six universities and 20 companies, which generated long term research programmes and produced a large number of patents putting the UK in the lead in mobile communications.

Since joining the University of Surrey in 1983 when he was appointed to the Alex Harley Reeves Chair of Information Systems Engineering, Professor Evans has held the posts of Dean of the Engineering Science and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise. As Pro-Vice-Chancellor, he oversaw research across the University and expanded the role of technology transfer and spin outs.

Having now returned his focus to research and teaching, Professor Barry Evans is currently leading projects that will help develop the next generation of networks and satellite systems. “With ever increasing internet traffic, we will need much higher capacity in the future. We are facing a ‘spectrum crunch’, which means we need to use the frequency spectrum in a much more flexible and dynamic way – finding spaces in terms of time and space, for example, where transmission will not interfere,” he explains. “The other big challenge, of course, is energy. In the future, we will need to design systems that only use about 10% of the amount used by today’s systems.”

Professor Evans adds: “Being awarded the Ambrose Fleming Medal was a wonderful surprise. It is nice to be recognised for research over a prolonged period, and of course this honour also belongs to all the researchers and students who have worked with me.”

The 2013 Ambrose Fleming Medal will be presented to Professor Evans at a special ceremony held on 20 November. The Medal is one of a collection of Achievement Awards given annually by the IET in recognition of significant and sustained contributions by individuals across various sectors of engineering and technology.