The James Clayton Prize is awarded to a member of the Institution who has made an exceptional contribution to mechanical engineering and related science, technology and invention – by way of research, invention, experimental work, a paper, engineering design or services to engineering.
Bridget Eickhoff CEng FIMechE is Principal Infrastructure Engineer at RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board). She is a mechanical engineer whose expertise and experience is in the rail specific discipline of the wheel-rail interface.
Bridget has a degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University and started her career at British Rail Research, where she was recruited into a mechanical engineering role and encouraged to become a member of the Institution and a chartered engineer. As a result of railway privatisation, she moved to AEA Technology Rail (later DeltaRail) and since 2008 she has been at RSSB.
Bridget has been involved in many projects that had and have a significant impact on the railway industry in the UK and overseas. She was the GB lead on the recently completed EU funded ‘DynoTRAIN’ project which facilitated the spread of European certification and acceptance procedures for the dynamics of railway vehicles. The new procedures include increased use of simulation in place of testing, to speed up interoperable product approvals, thus making the process more efficient without compromising safety. Bridget has a wide and deep knowledge of the engineering of railway systems, and her understanding of the technologies underpinning the safe operation of the railway was used to steer the project team in making significant improvements in the way that innovations can be adopted by the industry.
Bridget is an impressive leader in the rail industry. Professor Anson Jack proposed Bridget for this prize: “In my view, Bridget’s contribution to the industry in her leadership of the GB standards process on infrastructure, her leadership of key elements of the DynoTRAIN project and her leadership of the industry activity to generate, approve and publish a strategy for the Platform Train Interface, mean that she will finish her career having left a significant and lasting legacy.”
Bridget has been closely involved with the Institution over many years, working within the Railway Division in the Midlands Centre and at Headquarters, developing learning and training packages, supporting the ‘Railway Challenge’ and encouraging young engineers to take on significant roles in the rail industry.
Reflecting on winning the prize, Bridget says: ”I was amazed to learn that I had won this prize. As a mathematics graduate I was very fortunate to be offered an engineering role at BR Research in the fascinating technical area of vehicle-track interaction. In the late 1970s the increasing power of computers and the ability to undertake full-scale on-track tests, enabled us to develop software tools that still underpin the dynamics of modern railway vehicles.
“Together with colleagues across Great Britain and the international railway world, I have been involved in a range of areas, from studying the details of the wheel-rail interface and finding ways to mitigate derailment risk, to developing and supporting railway standards. The success of the DynoTRAIN project was certainly a highlight, working in a strong international team.
“Railway engineering continues to provide me with new and interesting challenges and it is rewarding to share my knowledge with other engineers. I hope that the recognition of the importance of railway engineering bestowed by this prize will encourage others to take a similar career path.”
Bridget Eickhoff was also the recipient of the 2016 George Stephenson Gold Medal
The prize certificate will be presented at the IMechE Annual Dinner in November and the announcement is on the IMechE website:
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