Business Irish

Saturday 17 November 2018

Where are they now: Patrick Dowling

Professor Patrick Dowling
Professor Patrick Dowling

Shane Ross

PROFESSOR Patrick Dowling, the distinguished civil engineer, has been one of the most successful Irishman in Britain during the past 20 years.

Born in 1939 in Sandymount, where his father had a successful butcher's shop (which flourished into this century), and educated by the Christian Brothers at Westland Row, he qualified at UCD in 1960, top of his class. He went to Imperial College London, intending to remain only for a year, but stayed on and eventually became head of one of the world's leading civil engineering departments.

Steel structures were his speciality; and two of his designs, one of an offshore oil platform, won the prestigious Queen's award for industry. He is the author of 250 articles and the editor of six books in this area. In 1996, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

By this time, he was vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey at Guildford which he guided into the front rank of scientific universities in Britain. In 2001, he was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in recognition of his work in strengthening links between higher education and industry -- a constant preoccupation of his.

Since his retirement in 2005, Professor Dowling has been chairman of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. His wife Grace, an Indian from Zanzibar, whom he met during their student days in Dublin while she was qualifying as a medical doctor at the College of Surgeons, became in 2004 the first High Sherriff of Surrey to be chosen from an ethnic minority.

Throughout his career, he maintained his Irish links as an extern examiner at Irish universities and guest lecturer. He is on the advisory board on research at his alma mater UCD. He and his wife divide their time between Guildford and their house near Gorey.

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