Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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Institution of Mechanical Engineers
ImechE logo.svg
Established27 January 1847;175 years ago (1847-01-27)
Founder George Stephenson
TypeProfessional association
Professional title
Chartered Mechanical Engineer
Headquarters1 Birdcage Walk
London, England
Region served
ServicesProfessional accreditation
120,000 (May 2018)
Key people
President: Peter Flinn (since June 2021)
Chief executive: Dr Alice Bunn (since July 2021)

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is an independent professional association and learned society headquartered in London, United Kingdom, that represents mechanical engineers and the engineering profession. With over 120,000 members in 140 countries, working across industries such as railways, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, energy, biomedical and construction, the Institution is licensed by the Engineering Council to assess candidates for inclusion on its Register of Chartered Engineers, Incorporated Engineers and Engineering Technicians.


The Institution was founded at the Queen's Hotel, Birmingham, by George Stephenson in 1847. It received a Royal Charter in 1930. The Institution's headquarters, purpose-built for the Institution in 1899, is situated at No. 1 Birdcage Walk in central London.


George Stephenson GeorgeStephenson.PNG
George Stephenson

Informal meetings are said to have taken place in 1846, at locomotive designer Charles Beyer's house in Cecil Street, Manchester, [lower-alpha 1] or alternatively at Bromsgrove at the house of James McConnell, after viewing locomotive trials at the Lickey Incline. [1] Beyer, Richard Peacock, George Selby, Archibald Slate and Edward Humphrys were present. Bromsgrove seems the more likely candidate for the initial discussion, not least because McConnell was the driving force in the early years. [2] A meeting took place at the Queen's Hotel in Birmingham to consider the idea further on 7 October and a committee appointed with McDonnell at its head to see the idea to its inauguration. [3]

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was then founded on 27 January 1847, in the Queen's Hotel next to Curzon Street station in Birmingham by the railway pioneer George Stephenson and others. [4] McConnnell became the first chairman. [1] The founding of the Institution was said by Stephenson's biographer Samuel Smiles to have been spurred by outrage that Stephenson, the most famous mechanical engineer of the age, had been refused admission to the Institution of Civil Engineers unless he sent in "a probationary essay as proof of his capacity as an engineer". [5] However, this account has been challenged as part of a pattern of exaggeration on Smiles' part aimed at glorifying the struggles that various Victorian mechanical engineers had to overcome in their personal efforts to attain greatness. [6] Though there was certainly coolness between Stephenson and the Institution of Civil Engineers, it is more likely that the motivation behind the founding of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was simply the need for a specific home for the growing number of mechanical engineers employed in the burgeoning railway and manufacturing industries. [5]

Beyer proposed that George Stephenson become the Institution's first president in 1847, [7] followed by his son, Robert Stephenson, in 1849. Beyer became vice-president and was one of the first to present papers to the Institution; [8] Charles Geach was the first treasurer. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries some of Britain's most notable engineers held the position of president, including Joseph Whitworth, Carl Wilhelm Siemens and Harry Ricardo. It operated from premises in Birmingham until 1877 when it moved to London, taking up its present headquarters on Birdcage Walk in 1899. [9]

Birdcage Walk

No. 1 Birdcage Walk One Birdcage Walk.jpg
No. 1 Birdcage Walk

Upon its move to London in 1877 the Institution rented premises at No. 10 Victoria Chambers, where it remained for 20 years. In 1895 the Institution bought a plot of land at Storey's Gate, on the eastern end of Birdcage Walk, for £9,500. [9] Architect Basil Slade looked to the newly-completed Admiralty buildings facing the site for inspiration. The building was designed in the Queen Anne, 'streaky bacon', style in red brick and Portland stone. Inside, there were several features that were state of the art for the time, including a telephone, a 54-inch fan in the lecture theatre for driving air into the building, an electric lift from the Otis Elevator Company, and a Synchronome master-clock, which controlled all house timepieces. In 1933 architect James Miller, who also designed the neighbouring Institution of Civil Engineers, remodelled the building, expanding the library and introducing electric lighting.

The building would go on to host the first public presentation of Frank Whittle's jet engine in 1945. [10] In 1943 it became the venue for the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers' planning of Operation Overlord and the invasion of Normandy. [9]

Today No. 1 Birdcage Walk hosts events, lectures, seminars and meetings in 17 conference and meeting rooms named after notable former members of the Institution, such as Whittle, Stephenson and Charles Parsons.

Membership grades and post-nominals

The following are membership grades with post-nominals  :


The James Watt International Medal is an award for excellence in engineering established in 1937 by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It is named after Scottish engineer James Watt (1736-1819) who developed the Watt steam engine in 1781, which was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.

The Whitworth Scholarship is awarded to a few promising engineers of the main engineering disciplines for the length of a degree course. On successful completion, they become Whitworth Scholars, with a medal and are entitled to use post-nominals Wh.Sch.. It was founded by Joseph Whitworth.

The Engineering Heritage Awards were created in 1984 to help recognise and promote the value of artefacts, locations, collections and landmarks of significant engineering importance.

Along with The Manufacturer, the Institution also runs The Manufacturer MX Awards, [11] and Formula Student, the world's largest student motorsport event.

The Tribology Gold Medal is awarded each year for outstanding and supreme achievement in the field of tribology. It is funded from The Tribology Trust Fund. [12] It was established and first awarded in 1972. As of 2017, it has been awarded to 39 individuals from 12 different countries. [13]

Tribology Gold Medal Laureates [13]
2021Jim GreenwoodUK
2020 Bharat Bhusan USA
2019Jean-Michel MartinFrance
2018Nicholas SpencerSwitzerland
2017 Kenneth Holmberg Finland
2016Friedrich FranekAustria
2015Shizu WenChina
2014Gwidon StachowiakAustralia
2013 Jacob Israelachvili USA
2012 Jacob Klein Israel
2011Qunji XueChina
2010Frank TalkeUSA
2009Irena GoryachevaRussia
2008Eustathios IoannidesUK
2007Koji KatoJapan
2006Roberto BassaniItaly
2005Dmitrii GarkunovRussia
2004 Hugh Spikes UK
2003Yoshitsuga KimuraJapan
2002Nikolai BusheRussia
2001Wilfried BartzGermany
2000Lou RozeanuIsrael
1999Jean FreneFrance
1998 Ernest Ravinowicz USA
1997Bo O. JacobsonSweden
1996Virgiliu N. ConstantinescuRomania
1995Stanislaw J. PytkoPoland
1994Jean-Marie GeorgesFrance
1993Ken LudemaUSA
1992Herbert S. ChengUSA
1991Avtandil V. ChichinadzeUSSR
1990Toshio SakuraiJapan
1989Gerd FleischerGermany
1988Maurice GodetFrance
1987Fujio HiranoJapan
1986 Ward O. Winer USA
1985 Kenneth L. Johnson UK
1984Heinz PeekenGermany
1983Alastair CameronUK
1982 Georgi V. Vinogradov USSR
1981Norimune SodaJapan
1980Mylon E. MerchantUSA
1979 Duncan Dowson UK
1978D. D. FullerUSA
1977Frederick T. BarwellUK
1976Robert L. JohnsonUSA
1975Igor V. KragelskiUSSR
1974 Mayo D. Hersey USA
1973 Harmen Blok Netherlands
1972 David Tabor UK


Annual dinner of the Institution in the carriage works of the Midland Railway at Derby in 1898. Samuel Johnson, the railway's Chief Mechanical Engineer, was the president. IMechE dinner 1898 Derby.jpg
Annual dinner of the Institution in the carriage works of the Midland Railway at Derby in 1898. Samuel Johnson, the railway's Chief Mechanical Engineer, was the president.

As of 2020, there have been 135 presidents of the Institution, who since 1922 have been elected annually for one year. The first president was George Stephenson, followed by his son Robert. Prior to 2018, Joseph Whitworth, John Penn and William Armstrong were the only presidents to have served two terms.

Pamela Liversidge in 1997 became the first female president; Professor Isobel Pollock became the second in 2012 and Carolyn Griffiths became the third in 2017.

List of presidents

Pamela Liversidge, first female president (elected 1997, pictured in 2014) Pam Liversidge 14 Ap 2014.jpg
Pamela Liversidge, first female president (elected 1997, pictured in 2014)
NoYearsNameSphere of influence
118471848 George Stephenson railway engineer
218491853 Robert Stephenson railway engineer, MP
318541855 William Fairbairn manufacturer, trader, ironmaster, bridge, mill wheels, ships, later made baronet.
418561857 Joseph Whitworth (First term)pioneer of machine tools, precision engineering
518581859 John Penn (First term)Marine Steam engines
61860 James Kennedy Marine engines and locomotives
718611862 William George Armstrong (First term)Industrialist and inventor, primarily of armaments. Pioneer of domestic electricity
818631865 Robert Napier Ship building and Marine engines
418651866 Joseph Whitworth (Second term)pioneer of machine tools, precision engineering
518661868 John Penn (Second term)Marine Steam Engines
718681869 William George Armstrong (Second term)Industrialist and inventor, primarily of armaments. Pioneer of domestic electricity
918701871 John Ramsbottom railway engineer
1018721873 Carl Wilhelm Siemens Metallurgist and electrical engineer
1118741875 Frederick Joseph Bramwell Steam engines and boilers
1218761877 Thomas Hawksley water and gas engineer
1318781879 John Robinson Steam Engines
1418801881 Edward Alfred Cowper Metallurgist, inventor of Cowper pot
1518821883 Percy G. B. Westmacott Hydraulic machinery
161884 Isaac Lowthian Bell Iron master
1718851886 Jeremiah Head Steam powered agricultural machinery
1818871888 Edward Carbutt Iron and steel making
191889 Charles Cochrane Iron and steel making
2018901891 Joseph Tomlinson Locomotive Superintendent
2118921893 William Anderson Bridges and factories
2218941895 Alexander Kennedy Professor of engineering, University College London
2318961897 Edward Windsor Richards Iron master
241898 Samuel Waite Johnson Chief Mechanical Engineer, Midland Railway
2518991900 William Henry White Naval architect
2619011902 William Maw Editor, Engineering
2719031904 Joseph Hartley Wicksteed Testing machines and machine tools
2819051906 Edward Pritchard Martin Iron and steel making
2919071908 Tom Hurry Riches Chief engineer, Taff Vale Railway
3019091910 John Aspinall Chief Mechanical Engineer, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
3119111912 Edward B. Ellington Hydraulic machinery
3219131914 Hay Frederick Donaldson Royal Ordnance
3319151916 William Unwin oil engine research
3419171918 Michael Longridge Chief Engineer
351919 Edward Hopkinson Electric Traction. Died during year of office
3619201921 Matthew Henry Phineas Riall Sankey Military engineering, oil engines and wireless telegraphy
371922Dr Henry Selby Hele-Shaw Prof. Mechanical Engineering at Liverpool University
381923 John Dewrance Inventor
391924 William Henry Patchell Electricity supply
401925 Vincent Raven Chief Mechanical Engineer, North Eastern Railway
411926 William Reavell Compressor manufacturer
421927 Henry Fowler Chief Mechanical Engineer, Midland Railway and London Midland & Scottish Railway
431928 Richard William Allen Pumps and Marine equipment
441929 Daniel Adamson Gears, cranes and cutting tools
451930 Loughnan St Lawrence Pendred Editor of The Engineer
461931 Edwin Kitson Clark Locomotive Engineer
471932 William Taylor Lens Manufacturing
481933 Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton Pumps and Diesel engines, MP
491934 Charles Day Steam and diesel engines
501935Major-General Alexander Elliott Davidson Mechanised military transport
511936 Nigel Gresley Chief Mechanical Engineer, London & North Eastern Railway
521937 John Edward Thornycroft Ship building and motor vehicle design
531938 David E Roberts Iron and steel manufacture
541939 E. Bruce Ball Motor Vehicles and hydraulic valves
551940 Asa Binns Engineer
561941 William Stanier Chief Mechanical Engineer, London, Midland & Scottish Railway
571942Col Stephen Joseph Thompson Boilers
581943 Frederick Charles Lea Engineering Professor at Birmingham and Sheffield Universities
591944 Harry Ricardo Automotive engineer. Founder, Ricardo Consulting
601945 Andrew Robertson Prof. Mechanical engineering at Bristol University
611946 Oliver Bulleid Chief Mechanical Engineer, Southern Railway
621947 Lord Dudley Gordon Refrigeration engineering
631948 E. William Gregson Marine engines
641949 Herbert John Gough Metal Fatigue, Engineering Research
651950 Stanley Fabes Dorey Chief Engineer Surveyor
661951 Arthur Clifford Hartley Chief engineer, Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Inventor, Pluto and Fido
671952 David Randall Pye Air Ministry research engineer
681953 Alfred Roebuck Engineering metallurgy
691954 Richard William Bailey High temperature steel and materials research
701955 Percy Lewis Jones Marine engines and ship building
711956 Thomas Arkle Crowe Marine Engines
721957 George Nelson Chairman English Electric
731958Robert Owen JonesAircraft Engineer
741959 Herbert Desmond Carter Diesel Engines
751960 Owen Saunders Prof. Mechanical Engineering Imperial College London
761961 Charles Hague Chairman, Babcock & Wilcox
771962 John Hereward Pitchford Internal Combustion engines
781963 Roland Curling Bond Chief Mechanical Engineer, British Railways [14]
791964 Frank Mason Engineer in chief, Royal Navy
801965 Harold Norman Gwynne Allen Power Transmission
811966 Lord Hinton of Bankside Pioneer of nuclear power
821967 Hugh Graham Conway Aero-engines and gas turbines
831968 Arnold Lewis George Lindley Chairman of General Electric Company
841969 Donald Frederick Galloway Manufacturing and machine tool engineer
851970 John Lamb Murray Morrison Prof. Mechanical engineering Bristol University
861971 Robert Lickley Aircraft engineer
871972 Lord Stokes Chief executive, British Leyland
881973 John William Atwell Steel industry and pump manufacture
891974 St John de Hold Elstub Metals
901975 Paul Thomas Fletcher Process plan and nuclear power plant
911976 Ewen McEwen Chief engineer, Lucas
921977 Hugh Ford Professor of mechanical engineering, Imperial College London
931978 Diarmuid Downs Internal combustion engines
941979 James Gordon Dawson Chief Engineer, Shell
951980 Bryan Hildrew Managing Director, Lloyd's Register of Shipping
961981 Francis David Penny Director, National Engineering Laboratory
971982 Victor John Osola/Vaino Junani Osola Process engineer, safety glass
981983 George Fritz Werner Adler Research Director, British Hydromechanical Research Association
991984 Waheeb Rizk Gas turbines at General Electric Company
1001985 Philip Foreman Aerospace engineer
1011986 Bernard Crossland Prof. Mechanical Engineering, Queen's University Belfast
1021987 Oscar Roith Chief Engineer, Department of Industry
1031988 Cecil Charles John French Internal combustion engines
1041989 Roy Ernest James Roberts Director, GKN
1051990 Michael John Neale Tribology
1061991 Duncan Dowson Prof of Fluid Mechanics, Leeds University, Tribology
1071992 Thomas Diery Patten Offshore engineering
1081993 Anthony Albert Denton Offshore engineering
1091994 Brian Hamilton Kent Design and engineering management
1101995 Frank Christopher Price Technical director
1111996 Robert William Ernest Shannon Inspection engineering
1121997 Pamela Liversidge Powder metallurgy
1131998 John Spence Metallurgy
1141999 James McKnight Automotive
1152000 Denis E. Filer Automotive
1162001 Tony Roche Railway
1172002 John McDougall MD of WS Atkins
1172003 Chris Taylor Tribology
1192004 William Edgar [15] Offshore engineering
1202005 Andrew Ives [16] Automobile engine electronics
1212006 W. Alec Osborn Automotive
1222007 John Baxter Nuclear engineer
1232008William M. BanksComposite materials. Professor, University of Strathclyde
1242009Keith MillardMarine
1252010John Wood [17] Automotive
1262011Roderick SmithRail engineer
1272012 Isobel Pollock [18] Engineering management
1282013Patrick Kniveton [19] Nuclear Engineering - Rolls Royce
1292014Group Captain Mark HuntRAF Engineer Officer, Engineering Management, Engineering Education
1302015Professor Richard FolksonChief Engineer of Ford of Europe, lecturer at University of Hertfordshire
1312016Jon Hilton Kinetic energy recovery system pioneer, Deputy Chairman of Torotrak PLC
1322017 Carolyn Griffiths Head of Rail Accident Investigation Branch
1332018†Geoff BakerOil and Gas
1162018†Tony Roche (Second term)Railway
1342019 Joseph McGeough Manufacturing
1352020Terry SpallAutomotive Engineer
1362021Peter FlinnManufacturing

† Baker resigned in June 2018. [20] The Institution's by-laws state that a casual vacancy for President shall be filled by appointing a Past President to the role; Tony Roche was elected and duly took up office for a second term in August of that year. [21]

Engineering Committees

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has a number of committees that work to promote and develop thought leadership in different industry sectors. The Institution has 8 divisions: - Aerospace, Automobile, Biomedical Engineering Association, Construction & Building Services, Manufacturing Industries, Power Industries, Process Industries and Railway. [22]

Biomedical Engineering Association (BmEA) aims to bring together key workers from both medicine and engineering to discuss the latest advances and issues, to enable networking among different industry leaders, and to promote the field of Medical Engineering, also known as Bioengineering or Biomedical Engineering, to government, healthcare professionals and the wider public. This committee offers:

The Railway Division was formed in 1969 when the Institution of Locomotive Engineers amalgamated with IMechE. [24]


Coat of arms of Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Institution of Mechanical Engineers Escutcheon.png
On a wreath of the colours upon a terrestrial globe a grey horse forcene Proper gorged with a coronet composed of four fleurs-de-lys with chain reflexed over the back Or.
Sable between the points of a pair of calipers inverted Or a plate.
On the dexter side a figure representing Archimedes holding in his exterior hand a pointer and on the sinister side a figure representing Vulcan resting his exterior hand upon a sledge hammer Proper.
Progress [25]

See also


  1. Pullin 1997, p. 2 quotes a leaflet from the opening of Birdcage Walk in 1899

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  1. 1 2 Awdry 1981
  2. Pullin 1997 , p. 2
  3. Watson 1988 , pp. 33–34
  4. Cragg 1997 , p. 194; Watson 1988 , pp. 33–34
  5. 1 2 Pullin 1997 , p. 3
  6. Pullin 1997 , p. 4
  7. "Beyer proposing Stephen as President".
  8. "Grace's Guide; Charles Beyer Obituary 1887".
  9. 1 2 3 "Institution and Engineering History - IMechE".
  10. "Honorary Fellows - IMechE".
  11. The Manufacturer MX Awards
  12. "Tribology Gold Medal Institution of Mechanical Engineers". Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  13. 1 2 "All Tribology Gold Medal Laureates | Institution of Mechanical Engineers". Retrieved 2019-07-08.
  14. Bond R.C. "A Lifetime With Locomotives", Goose & Son 1980
  15. "Biography of William Edgar CBE" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-03-30.
  16. "Biography of Andrew P Ives" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-05-13.
  17. "Presidential addresses". Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  18. IMechE Professor Isobel A Pollock 127th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  19. IMechE Professor Patrick Kniveton 128th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  20. "Message from the Trustee Board". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  21. Tony Roche becomes Institution’s new President
  22. IMechE industries page
  23. "Home".
  24. IMechE railway page
  25. "Institution of Mechanical Engineers". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 30 September 2021.