In 2011, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was launched in the UK, to recognize outstanding advances in engineering. The prize, and the endowment that supports it, are overseen by the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, a UK charitable trust. The initial endowment was established by contributions from BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GlaxoSmithKline, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Shell, Siemens, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel and Toshiba. Although the competition is based in the UK, it is open to work from around the world. The day-to-day administration of the prize, which is to be awarded every two years, is handled by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Today, as the New Scientist reports, the first winners of the prize were announced. Five individuals will share the prize award of £1 million ($1.51 million). Bob Kahn, Louis Pouzin, and Vint Cerf were recognized for their contributions to development of the underlying data transmission protocols used by the Internet. Sir Tim Berners-Lee was honored for his invention of the World Wide Web, which enormously expanded the potential usefulness of the Internet, and Marc Andreessen was recognized for his work in developing Mosaic, the first widely distributed Web browser.
… the prize is given for an “outstanding advance in engineering that creates significant benefit to humanity”. The winner was chosen because its technology, in the words of judge Brian Cox, “has demonstrably had an effect on the whole world”.
The Foundation’s site has a video presentation on the awards.
As the winners noted, engineering is not a solitary activity, and many other people were involved in making these developments a success. It is nonetheless true that these individuals made exceptional contributions, and it is a pleasure to see those contributions recognized.