Head of Department: Tom Husband, Head of Mechanical Engineering 1983-1990, FREng



Undergraduate modules included Advanced Manufacturing Technology. In the late 1980s a CAD (Computer Aided Design) Unit was developed comprising a set of mini computers with dedicated graphics terminals, specifically for the teaching of CAD using the first versions of AutoCAD.  Pascal became preferred over Fortran as the language for teaching.


The Lubrication Section was renamed Tribology in 1984. Research into the new area of Medical Robotics expanded with the formation of the Centre for Robotics & Automated Systems (CROBAS), which attracted mature students from industry and undertook clinical trials for the world’s first purpose-built robot for surgery. The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 stimulated new research into computer applications in emergencies and safety studies of fission power. In 1985 the College hosted a showcase event entitled Technology 2000. The event was open to the public and opened by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; displays from Mechanical Engineering included research into artificial joints, radioactive waste safety and an industrial design collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

Meanwhile, in London...

The East End saw huge changes as derelict docks were transformed by developments such as Canary Wharf and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Riots broke out across the UK and particularly in London in 1990 over the introduction of the Poll Tax.

The Mechanics of Materials division in front of Royal Albert Hall, 1990

Canary Whatf

Looking towards the site of the future Canary Wharf developments with a poster advertising what was to come, 1987. The message on the poster reads: "It will feel like Venice & work like New York."

Docklands Light Railway car, South Quay Station, 1989

Programming in Pascal

Programming in Pascal, 1983

VAX computer. The department acquired got an 8600 model in the mid-1980s.

Photo credits:

Photo of second year students in the lab from Review 1987-1989

Photo of the Mechanics of Materials division from the Imperial College London archives

Photo of the Canary Wharf site at Westferry Circus, 27 July 1987, by Flickr user Tim@SW2008, used under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 license 

Photo of the DLR car at South Quay by Flickr user Sludge G, used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

An Informatics General computer programmer at the company's New York City office looking at Pascal language code for the TAPS product on an IBM 3270 terminal, photo by Jonathan Schilling [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

VAX Console. A DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) Professional pdp-11 workstation used as a console for a VAX 8550 by Retro-Computing Society of Rhode Island used under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 license from Wikimedia Commons