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Liberty News

Liberty University adjunct faculty member wins prestigious UK engineering award

January 3, 2020 : By Garold Smith/Liberty University News Service

Dr. Stuart Burgess, adjunct faculty for Liberty University School of Engineering, has been awarded the 2019 IMechE James Clayton Prize predominantly for his work in spacecraft design and bicycle chain drive systems.

The award, given by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), is presented annually for the largest contribution to mechanical engineering science in the U.K. Recipients are internationally recognized for their research, technology, and invention work. Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine, was a past winner of the award. IMechE is the United Kingdom equivalent of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Burgess has worked with the European Space Agency helping design spacecraft since the early 2000s. He designed solar array deployment systems for four earth observation satellites, including Metop A, Metop B, Metop C and the Envisat, which was the world’s largest of its kind when launched in 2002. His work on a bicycle chain drive system for the British Olympic Cycling Team resulted in Team Great Britain breaking multiple world records and winning six gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He assisted the team with bike designs that will be used at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Also contributing to the award was his work on bio-inspiration — using structures and systems found in nature as a basis for design — which was partially completed during the time Burgess was based at Liberty in 2012 and 2013.

“I am so grateful to God for giving me the gifts and opportunities to win a prize like this,” said Burgess. “Studying God’s wonderful creation inspires me every day to design better products and not only to produce sophisticated solutions, but also elegant and beautiful designs.”

Burgess’ previous work at Liberty includes formulating the equations of flapping flight, which enables biologists to understand how birds use aerodynamic braking during flight. This work was published in the International Journal of Micro Air Vehicles and included researchers at Liberty. He returned to the School of Engineering in 2019 to teach a course on product design.

Dr. Burgess currently resides in the UK and is a professor of engineering design at Bristol University and an external examiner at Cambridge University. He plans to return to Liberty in August 2020 to conduct an intensive course on automotive design.

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