Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

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Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
Established 1875 (1875)
Head of Department David Cardwell
Location Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom
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The University of Cambridge Department of Engineering is one of the largest departments in the University of Cambridge. The main site is situated at Trumpington Street, to the south of Cambridge city centre. The department is the primary centre for engineering teaching and research activities in Cambridge and is currently headed by Professor David Cardwell.[1]


In 1782, the Reverend Richard Jackson of Torrington, former fellow of Trinity College, died leaving a substantial portion of his estate to endow a Professorship of Natural Experimental Philosophy. This became forerunner to the Professorship of Mechanism and Applied Mechanics, first held in 1875 by James Stuart. [2]

The first engineering workshop at Cambridge was constructed in 1878, a wooden hut fifty by twenty feet. The department now boasts several sites around Cambridge:

Cambridge University Engineering Department Trumpington Street site looking southeast from the Inglis A Building in Nov 2004. The Baker Building is in the left background and the Leys School is in the right background (behind the chimney). The Inglis Building is in the middle and foreground.
  • The main buildings are located at Trumpington Street and Fen Causeway on the Scroope House site, where most of the undergraduate teaching in the Engineering Tripos is carried out.
  • Various sections which could not easily be accommodated on the main site have moved to the University's West Cambridge site, including the Whittle Laboratory (a turbomachinery laboratory, founded by Sir John Horlock, in 1973),[3] The Geotechnical Centrifuge laboratory, the Microelectronics Research Centre (1992), the Electrical Engineering Division building and the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM).
  • A few of the smaller buildings on the Old Addenbrooke's Site, in Trumpington Street opposite the Scroope House Site, have been used by the department from time to time. Currently, the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership is in the end building of that site, 1 Trumpington Street, having expanded and moved there under its previous name of Cambridge Programme for Industry in 1991.
  • Over the course of the next 10 years, the Department plans to consolidate the Department of Engineering entirely on the west Cambridge site. [4]

Notable alumni and researchers

Notable companies and projects founded by students and alumni


Research themes

Undergraduate education

There are about 1,200 undergraduate students in the Department at any time, with about 320 students admitted each year.

The first two years are essentially the same for all students and aim to give a broad overview, covering mechanical and structural engineering, as well as materials, electrical and information engineering. From the third year, students students are required to specialise, undertaking either the Engineering Tripos or Manufacturing Engineering Tripos.

In the Engineering Tripos, students specialise in one of nine engineering disciplines:

  • Aerospace and aerothermal engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Civil, structural and environmental engineering
  • Electrical and electronic engineering
  • Electrical and information sciences
  • Energy, sustainability and the environment
  • Information and computer engineering
  • Instrumentation and control
  • Mechanical engineering

Meanwhile, the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos provides an integrated course in industrial engineering, including both operations and management.[8]

Graduate education

The Department of Engineering currently has about 190 faculty and PI-status researchers, 300 postdoctoral researchers, and 850 graduate students. Post-graduate education in the consists of both taught courses and research degrees (PhD, MPhil and MRes). The majority of research students study for a PhD degree while around 10 per cent follow the one-year MPhil (research) programme.

The Department also has a number of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), which follow a 1-plus-3 year model where a one-year MRes course is followed by a three-year PhD. Full funding for four years is provided through these centres. In addition to the CDTs, the Department has a limited number of EPSRC PhD studentships available for British and EU students.[9]