Who got that job?

August 24, 2007

Feargal Brennan , professor of offshore engineering, Cranfield University. Job advertised in The Times Higher , November 2, 2006

After 20 years at University College London, Feargal Brennan has moved to Cranfield University to take up a chair in offshore engineering.

"London was traditionally strong in engineering, particularly offshore, but more recently there has been a move towards bioengineering and nanotechnology," Professor Brennan said. The move to Cranfield was perfect, as the university is "really taking a new strategic direction" into offshore engineering.

"Offshore engineering was at its height in the 1970s and 1980s, driven by North Sea oil, and there were a number of places with considerable expertise. Now there are relatively few. My role is to bring together the many disparate groups doing related activities in order to make Cranfield the largest offshore engineering group in the UK."

As Cranfield is a postgraduate-only university, Professor Brennan has few teaching duties and can devote most of his time to research, developing short courses for industry and working to expand his eight-strong research team, which is expected to grow significantly "in the near future".

The group will address a number of challenges in the industry and for the wider population, including problems with energy supply and climate change.

The industry faces big changes with "increased demand for renewable energy and big rises in oil and gas prices", Professor Brennan said. "Offshore oil and gas fields that a few years ago were economically marginal are now feasible. There are many structures that have exceeded their design life and will need lots of attention to keep them operating safely."

Professor Brennan is also developing a project with the School of Health that is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. "We want to examine the feasibility of using aquaculture to tackle this problem by building floating megastructure forests of algae. With more than 70 per cent of the earth covered by sea, placing these photosynthetic reactors offshore could be a potential solution," he said.

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