Professor Alistair Borthwick awarded ICE Gold Medal for lifetime contribution to civil engineering education

The School’s Professor Alistair Borthwick FICE, FREng, FRSE has been presented with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Gold Medal for his lifetime contribution to civil engineering education, training and mentoring.

A Gold Medal is awarded annually by the ICE to recognise individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the civil engineering profession over many years. Professor Borthwick received the honour at the ICE Awards ceremony in London on Friday 4 October 2019.

Career highlights 

Professor Borthwick’s career has spanned civil, coastal and offshore engineering across industry and academia. He is recognised as a world authority on environmental fluid mechanics and has particular expertise in river basin management, coastal and offshore processes, water and wastewater treatment, and marine renewable energy. 

He joined the University of Edinburgh as Professor of Applied Hydrodynamics in 2013, is also Emeritus Fellow at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and holds honorary professorships at Peking University, NUI Galway, University College Cork, Wuhan University, China University of Geosciences, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. During his time at University College Cork, he helped establish the SFI Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) Centre. 

Leading educator

Professor Borthwick’s nomination was supported by academics representing Edinburgh, Oxford, Plymouth, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Peking Universities. Describing Professor Borthwick as “the leading educator in civil engineering hydraulics of his generation”, the nomination notes his excellence in research and innovation, coupled with a dedication to educating the next generation of civil engineers on an international scale.

Over the course of his career, Professor Borthwick has employed 22 research assistants, supervised 61 doctoral and 7 MSc students, several of whom have gone on to train future talent themselves including seven full Professors, one Reader, two Associate Professors, and five Lecturers. In addition, he has acted as an internal and external examiner to a further 67 PhD and 6 MSc students worldwide, and mentored countless junior colleagues at the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford, Cork and Peking. 

Professor Borthwick has also contributed his expertise to several bodies supporting young civil engineers, including the Steering Committee of the UK Young Coastal Sciences and the Engineers Conference, and to outreach committees in the Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society of Edinburgh and the ICE.

Colleague testimonials

Supporting the nomination, Professor Conchúr Ó Brádaigh, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh, noted Professor Borthwick’s multidimensional contribution to civil engineering, commenting that “he has excelled in education, mentoring and research whilst maintaining and developing deep relevance to industrial applications - a difficult challenge, consummately achieved.”

Professor Deborah Greaves OBE, Head of the University of Plymouth’s School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics attested to Professor Borthwick’s “significant impact on many hundreds of students who have gone on to work as civil engineers and conduct civil engineering research that has had global impact.”

Professor Ton van den Bremer, who was mentored by Professor Borthwick at Edinburgh and continues to be mentored by him as a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow at the University of Oxford said: “Alistair’s steadfast commitment to advancing the careers of his students and junior colleagues make him an example to anyone supervising students or building a research team.”

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