Published: 08 October 2019

Fifth Surrey student awarded Royal Commission 1851 Fellowship

Alex O’Neill, who is undertaking an Engineering Doctorate based at Jaguar Land Rover, has been recognised as one of the UK’s most talented young engineers with a highly prestigious Industrial Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

Alex O'Neill with his sponsors
(L-r) Dr Patrick Gruber, Alex O'Neill, and Industrial Supervisor Jan Prins.

The Fellowship was awarded to Alex at a special ceremony held on 24 September, and represents up to £80,000 in additional funding to develop and commercialise his research. This is the fifth award of a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Fellowship to a Surrey student in the past ten years.

Alex is spending four years at Jaguar Land Rover on an Engineering Doctorate (EngD) in Surrey’s EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Micro- and Nanomaterials and Technologies (MiNMaT). As a Research Engineer with the company he is researching the complex interaction between rubber tyres and the road, with the aim of improving virtual testing, which will ultimately save costs in the car design process.

The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851’s Industrial Fellowship is awarded to exceptional graduates with the potential to make an outstanding contribution to industry via a programme of doctoral level research. The Commission funding has an illustrious history: first established to stage the Great Exhibition of 1851 by Prince Albert, it has produced 13 Nobel Laureates to date.

Alex said: “Being awarded the Fellowship is a huge source of personal pride. My undergraduate degree was in physics so knowing that Peter Higgs, Paul Dirac and Ernest Rutherford also won Fellowships is quite special for me. It’s also an extremely important validation of the research I’m undertaking with Surrey and Jaguar Land Rover.”

Dr Patrick Gruber, Alex’s supervisor at Surrey, commented: “This recognition of Alex’s exciting research in the field of automotive engineering is well-deserved and the funding will enable him to take his work to the next level. The opportunities that come with being part of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 ‘family’ are tremendous.”

Professor Robert Dorey, Director of the CDT in MiNMaT, added: “We’re immensely proud of Alex’s achievement as he joins our four previous awardees in demonstrating the high quality and industrial relevance of our Centre’s research.”


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