Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Established27 January 1847; 177 years ago (1847-01-27)
FounderGeorge Stephenson
TypeProfessional association
Professional title
Chartered Engineer
Headquarters1 Birdcage Walk
London, England
Region served
ServicesProfessional accreditation
115,000 (2023)
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

Informal meetings are said to have taken place in 1846, at locomotive designer Charles Beyer's house in Cecil Street, Manchester,[a] 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[edit]

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[edit]

The following are membership grades with post-nominals :

  • Affiliate: (no post-nominal) The grade for students, apprentices and those interested in or involved in mechanical engineering who do not meet the requirements for the following grades.
  • AMIMechE: Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers: this is the grade for graduates (of acceptable degrees or equivalents in engineering, mathematics or science)
  • MIMechE: Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. For those who meet the educational and professional requirements for registration as a Chartered Mechanical Engineer (CEng, MIMechE) and also as a Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Engineering Technician (EngTech) in mechanical engineering.
  • FIMechE: Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. This is the highest class of elected membership, and is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to and innovation in mechanical engineering.


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]
Year Awardee Country
2022 Bo Persson Sweden
2021 Jim Greenwood UK
2020 Bharat Bhusan USA
2019 Jean-Michel Martin France
2018 Nicholas Spencer Switzerland
2017 Kenneth Holmberg Finland
2016 Friedrich Franek Austria
2015 Shizu Wen China
2014 Gwidon Stachowiak Australia
2013 Jacob Israelachvili USA
2012 Jacob Klein Israel
2011 Qunji Xue China
2010 Frank Talke USA
2009 Irena Goryacheva Russia
2008 Eustathios Ioannides UK
2007 Koji Kato Japan
2006 Roberto Bassani Italy
2005 Dmitrii Garkunov Russia
2004 Hugh Spikes UK
2003 Yoshitsuga Kimura Japan
2002 Nikolai Bushe Russia
2001 Wilfried Bartz Germany
2000 Lou Rozeanu Israel
1999 Jean Frene France
1998 Ernest Ravinowicz USA
1997 Bo O. Jacobson Sweden
1996 Virgiliu N. Constantinescu Romania
1995 Stanislaw J. Pytko Poland
1994 Jean-Marie Georges France
1993 Ken Ludema USA
1992 Herbert S. Cheng USA
1991 Avtandil V. Chichinadze USSR
1990 Toshio Sakurai Japan
1989 Gerd Fleischer Germany
1988 Maurice Godet France
1987 Fujio Hirano Japan
1986 Ward O. Winer USA
1985 Kenneth L. Johnson UK
1984 Heinz Peeken Germany
1983 Alastair Cameron UK
1982 Georgi V. Vinogradov USSR
1981 Norimune Soda Japan
1980 Mylon E. Merchant USA
1979 Duncan Dowson UK
1978 D. D. Fuller USA
1977 Frederick T. Barwell UK
1976 Robert L. Johnson USA
1975 Igor V. Kragelski USSR
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.

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[edit]

Pamela Liversidge, first female president (elected 1997, pictured in 2014)
No Years Name Sphere of influence
1 1847–1848 George Stephenson railway engineer
2 1849–1853 Robert Stephenson railway engineer, MP
3 1854–1855 William Fairbairn manufacturer, trader, ironmaster, bridge, mill wheels, ships, later made baronet.
4 1856–1857 Joseph Whitworth (First term) pioneer of machine tools, precision engineering
5 1858–1859 John Penn (First term) Marine Steam engines
6 1860 James Kennedy Marine engines and locomotives
7 1861–1862 William George Armstrong (First term) Industrialist and inventor, primarily of armaments. Pioneer of domestic electricity
8 1863–1865 Robert Napier Ship building and Marine engines
4 1865–1866 Joseph Whitworth (Second term) pioneer of machine tools, precision engineering
5 1866–1868 John Penn (Second term) Marine Steam Engines
7 1868–1869 William George Armstrong (Second term) Industrialist and inventor, primarily of armaments. Pioneer of domestic electricity
9 1870–1871 John Ramsbottom railway engineer
10 1872–1873 Carl Wilhelm Siemens Metallurgist and electrical engineer
11 1874–1875 Frederick Joseph Bramwell Steam engines and boilers
12 1876–1877 Thomas Hawksley water and gas engineer
13 1878–1879 John Robinson Steam Engines
14 1880–1881 Edward Alfred Cowper Metallurgist, inventor of Cowper pot
15 1882–1883 Percy G. B. Westmacott Hydraulic machinery
16 1884 Isaac Lowthian Bell Iron master
17 1885–1886 Jeremiah Head Steam powered agricultural machinery
18 1887–1888 Edward Carbutt Iron and steel making
19 1889 Charles Cochrane Iron and steel making
20 1890–1891 Joseph Tomlinson Locomotive Superintendent
21 1892–1893 William Anderson Bridges and factories
22 1894–1895 Alexander Kennedy Professor of engineering, University College London
23 1896–1897 Edward Windsor Richards Iron master
24 1898 Samuel Waite Johnson Chief Mechanical Engineer, Midland Railway
25 1899–1900 William Henry White Naval architect
26 1901–1902 William Maw Editor, Engineering
27 1903–1904 Joseph Hartley Wicksteed Testing machines and machine tools
28 1905–1906 Edward Pritchard Martin Iron and steel making
29 1907–1908 Tom Hurry Riches Chief engineer, Taff Vale Railway
30 1909–1910 John Aspinall Chief Mechanical Engineer, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway
31 1911–1912 Edward B. Ellington Hydraulic machinery
32 1913–1914 Hay Frederick Donaldson Royal Ordnance
33 1915–1916 William Unwin oil engine research
34 1917–1918 Michael Longridge Chief Engineer
35 1919 Edward Hopkinson Electric Traction. Died during year of office
36 1920–1921 Matthew Henry Phineas Riall Sankey Military engineering, oil engines and wireless telegraphy
37 1922 Dr Henry Selby Hele-Shaw Prof. Mechanical Engineering at Liverpool University
38 1923 John Dewrance Inventor
39 1924 William Henry Patchell Electricity supply
40 1925 Vincent Raven Chief Mechanical Engineer, North Eastern Railway
41 1926 William Reavell Compressor manufacturer
42 1927 Henry Fowler Chief Mechanical Engineer, Midland Railway and London Midland & Scottish Railway
43 1928 Richard William Allen Pumps and Marine equipment
44 1929 Daniel Adamson Gears, cranes and cutting tools
45 1930 Loughnan St Lawrence Pendred Editor of The Engineer
46 1931 Edwin Kitson Clark Locomotive Engineer
47 1932 William Taylor Lens Manufacturing
48 1933 Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton Pumps and Diesel engines, MP
49 1934 Charles Day Steam and diesel engines
50 1935 Major-General Alexander Elliott Davidson Mechanised military transport
51 1936 Nigel Gresley Chief Mechanical Engineer, London & North Eastern Railway
52 1937 John Edward Thornycroft Ship building and motor vehicle design
53 1938 David E Roberts Iron and steel manufacture
54 1939 E. Bruce Ball Motor Vehicles and hydraulic valves
55 1940 Asa Binns Engineer
56 1941 William Stanier Chief Mechanical Engineer, London, Midland & Scottish Railway
57 1942 Col Stephen Joseph Thompson Boilers
58 1943 Frederick Charles Lea Engineering Professor at Birmingham and Sheffield Universities
59 1944 Harry Ricardo Automotive engineer. Founder, Ricardo Consulting
60 1945 Andrew Robertson Prof. Mechanical engineering at Bristol University
61 1946 Oliver Bulleid Chief Mechanical Engineer, Southern Railway
62 1947 Lord Dudley Gordon Refrigeration engineering
63 1948 E. William Gregson Marine engines
64 1949 H. J. Gough Metal fatigue, engineering research
65 1950 Stanley Fabes Dorey Chief engineer surveyor
66 1951 Arthur Clifford Hartley Chief engineer, Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. inventor, Pluto and Fido
67 1952 David Randall Pye Air Ministry research engineer
68 1953 Alfred Roebuck Engineering metallurgy
69 1954 Richard William Bailey High temperature steel and materials research
70 1955 Percy Lewis Jones Marine engines and ship building
71 1956 Thomas Arkle Crowe Marine Engines
72 1957 George Nelson Chairman English Electric
73 1958 Robert Owen Jones Aircraft Engineer
74 1959 Herbert Desmond Carter Diesel Engines
75 1960 Owen Saunders Prof. Mechanical Engineering Imperial College London
76 1961 Charles Hague Chairman, Babcock & Wilcox
77 1962 John Hereward Pitchford Internal Combustion engines
78 1963 Roland Curling Bond Chief Mechanical Engineer, British Railways[14]
79 1964 Frank Mason Engineer in chief, Royal Navy
80 1965 Harold Norman Gwynne Allen Power Transmission
81 1966 Lord Hinton of Bankside Pioneer of nuclear power
82 1967 Hugh Graham Conway Aero-engines and gas turbines
83 1968 Arnold Lewis George Lindley Chairman of General Electric Company
84 1969 Donald Frederick Galloway Manufacturing and machine tool engineer
85 1970 John Lamb Murray Morrison Prof. Mechanical engineering Bristol University
86 1971 Robert Lickley Aircraft engineer
87 1972 Lord Stokes Chief executive, British Leyland
88 1973 John William Atwell Steel industry and pump manufacture
89 1974 St John de Hold Elstub Metals
90 1975 Paul Thomas Fletcher Process plan and nuclear power plant
91 1976 Ewen McEwen Chief engineer, Lucas
92 1977 Hugh Ford Professor of mechanical engineering, Imperial College London
93 1978 Diarmuid Downs Internal combustion engines
94 1979 James Gordon Dawson Chief Engineer, Shell
95 1980 Bryan Hildrew Managing Director, Lloyd's Register of Shipping
96 1981 Francis David Penny Director, National Engineering Laboratory
97 1982 Victor John Osola/Vaino Junani Osola Process engineer, safety glass
98 1983 George Fritz Werner Adler Research Director, British Hydromechanical Research Association
99 1984 Waheeb Rizk Gas turbines at General Electric Company
100 1985 Philip Foreman Aerospace engineer
101 1986 Bernard Crossland Prof. Mechanical Engineering, Queen's University Belfast
102 1987 Oscar Roith Chief Engineer, Department of Industry
103 1988 Cecil Charles John French Internal combustion engines
104 1989 Roy Ernest James Roberts Director, GKN
105 1990 Michael John Neale Tribology
106 1991 Duncan Dowson Prof of Fluid Mechanics, Leeds University, Tribology
107 1992 Thomas Diery Patten Offshore engineering
108 1993 Anthony Albert Denton Offshore engineering
109 1994 Brian Hamilton Kent Design and engineering management
110 1995 Frank Christopher Price Technical director
111 1996 Robert William Ernest Shannon Inspection engineering
112 1997 Pamela Liversidge Powder metallurgy
113 1998 John Spence Metallurgy
114 1999 James McKnight Automotive
115 2000 Denis E. Filer Automotive
116 2001 Tony Roche Railway
117 2002 John McDougall MD of WS Atkins
117 2003 Chris Taylor Tribology
119 2004 William Edgar[15] Offshore engineering
120 2005 Andrew Ives[16] Automobile engine electronics
121 2006 W. Alec Osborn Automotive
122 2007 John Baxter Nuclear engineer
123 2008 William M. Banks Composite materials. Professor, University of Strathclyde
124 2009 Keith Millard Marine
125 2010 John Wood[17] Automotive
126 2011 Roderick Smith Rail engineer
127 2012 Isobel Pollock[18] Engineering management
128 2013 Patrick Kniveton[19] Nuclear Engineering - Rolls-Royce
129 2014 Group Captain Mark Hunt RAF Engineer Officer, Engineering Management, Engineering Education
130 2015 Professor Richard Folkson Chief Engineer of Ford of Europe, lecturer at University of Hertfordshire
131 2016 Jon Hilton Kinetic energy recovery system pioneer, Deputy Chairman of Torotrak PLC
132 2017 Carolyn Griffiths Head of Rail Accident Investigation Branch
133 2018† Geoff Baker Oil and Gas
116 2018† Tony Roche (Second term) Railway
134 2019 Joseph McGeough Manufacturing
135 2020 Terry Spall Automotive Engineer
136 2021 Peter Flinn Manufacturing
137 2022 Philip Peel Power Generation[20]

† Baker resigned in June 2018.[21] 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.[22]

Engineering Committees[edit]

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.[23]

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:

  • seminars, lectures and conferences every year;
  • the Journal of Engineering in Medicine;[24]
  • the annual Student Project Competition.

The Railway Division was formed in 1969 when the Institution of Locomotive Engineers amalgamated with IMechE.[25]


Coat of arms of Institution of Mechanical Engineers
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 [26]

See also[edit]


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


  1. ^ a b Awdry 1981
  2. ^ Pullin 1997, p. 2
  3. ^ Watson 1988, pp. 33–34
  4. ^ Cragg 1997, p. 194; Watson 1988, pp. 33–34
  5. ^ a b Pullin 1997, p. 3
  6. ^ Pullin 1997, p. 4
  7. ^ "Beyer proposing Stephen as President".
  8. ^ "Grace's Guide; Charles Beyer Obituary 1887".
  9. ^ a b c "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. ^ a b "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. ^ "Phil Peel - IMechE".
  21. ^ "Message from the Trustee Board". Retrieved 2018-08-02.
  22. ^ Tony Roche becomes Institution’s new President
  23. ^ IMechE industries page
  24. ^ "Home".
  25. ^ IMechE railway page
  26. ^ "Institution of Mechanical Engineers". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 30 September 2021.


  • Pullin, John (1997). Progress through Mechanical Engineering. Quiller Press. ISBN 1-899163-28-X.
  • Cragg, Roger (1997). Civil Engineering Heritage: Wales and West Central England: Wales and West Central England, 2nd Edition. Thomas Telford. ISBN 0-7277-2576-9.
  • Watson, Garth (1988). The civils: the story of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Thomas Telford Limited. ISBN 978-0727703927.
  • Awdry, Rev W (1981). "Bromsgrove and the Lickey Incline: the railway revolution". In Foster, John (ed.). Bygone Bromsgrove: an illustrated story of the town in days gone by. Bromsgrove Society. ISBN 9780950947143. OL 19606374M.

External links[edit]