One of Queen’s University’s most distinguished characters passed away this week. Eminent engineer, Professor Sir Bernard Crossland (87), died on Monday.
A former pro-vice-chancellor of the university, where he was head of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from 1959 to 1982, Sir Bernard enjoyed an international reputation as a research pioneer in high-pressure engineering and explosive welding.
He was, however, perhaps best known for his role as an expert investigator of national accidents, and as a powerful advocate of strong integration between industry and education.
He served as an expert investigator of several tragic accidents, the most noteworthy of which was the King's Cross Underground Fire in 1987, heading up the scientific committee which established the cause of the fire and made recommendations to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again.
He also chaired the Public Hearing following the Bilsthorpe Colliery roof fall in 1993, and played an active role in investigation of the Ramsgate walkway collapse, the destruction of a major liquid gas plant in Qatar, the Southall high speed train crash and the Ladbroke Grove rail crash.
Queen’s vice-chancellor Professor Peter Gregson said: “As an engineering educator and leader whose career spanned seven decades, Sir Bernard served at the highest levels within Queen’s and the engineering profession, and he did so with distinction. His contribution to Queen’s and to Northern Ireland was immense, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family circle.”
Professor Crossland lectured and published extensively throughout his career, and published his memoirs, The Anatomy of an Engineer, in 2006.
He served on and chaired several Government committees in Britain and Northern Ireland, and received many awards in recognition of his service to his profession and to higher education.
These include the Cunningham Medal of the Royal Irish Academy, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Engineers Ireland and, with others, the George Stephenson Research Prize and the Hawksley Gold Medal of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Sir Bernard was a Fellow (and former vice-president) of the Royal Society, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a member of the Royal Irish Academy and president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers from 1986 to 1987.
In 1987 he was made a Freeman of the City of London, the city of his birth, and in 1990 he was knighted for services to education and industry.
In June 2009 he was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Sustained Achievement Award. Engineers Ireland established the annual Sir Bernard Crossland Symposium, the annual Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture and the Crossland Medal for Engineering Innovation in Sir Bernard’s honour, to celebrate and promote excellence in engineering.