Professor Washington Yotto Ochieng, EBS, FREng, is the current Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Chair Professor in Positioning and Navigation Systems. He is also the Interim Director of the Institute for Security Science and Technology (ISST) at Imperial College London. Formerly, he was Head of the Centre for Transport Studies, and Senior Security Science Fellow and Co-Director of the ISST at Imperial.
Ochieng is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum Group (SMG) appointed by the UK Prime Minister, and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Science Museum in London. He is a Trustee, Member of Council and Vice President of the Royal Institute of Navigation (RIN), and Chair of the Africa Engineers Steering Committee of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng). He is also a Fellow of the UK Institutions of Civil Engineers, Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation, RIN and Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors. He holds various advisory roles.
With a background in industry and academia, Ochieng's professional career started at Racal Electronics Limited as a Principal Engineer where he participated in various international industrial consortia developing satellite navigation systems and products. He moved to Imperial in October 1997.
Ochieng has undertaken award-winning research in critical infrastructure resilience, user-centric mobility and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) systems. Examples of his works include the design of positioning and navigation systems (including Europe's EGNOS and GALILEO systems) for land, sea, air and space applications; Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). In 2013, he was elected Fellow of the RAEng in recognition of his exceptional contribution. In 2019, he received the Harold Spencer-Jones Gold Medal (the highest award from the RIN) in recognition of his ‘extensive valued advice to policy makers and for pioneering research in safety-critical navigation and positioning systems’.
Ochieng contributes to professional, government and related entities, advising on various activities. In the UK, he worked on the RAEng report on Global Navigation Space Systems: reliance and vulnerabilities. Under the Leadership of the then UK Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir Mark Walport and his Deputy, Professor Chris Whitty, he played a major role in the Government Office for Science(GoS) Blackett Review on Satellite-derived Time and Position: A Study of Critical Dependencies. He was also invited by GoS to a Special Forum on Transport Security and served as an advisor on the report on the Future of Mobility launched by GoS in January 2019.
In January 2020 Ochieng was appointed to the Science Advisory Group (SAG) at the Department for International Development (DFID) with a particular responsibility for infrastructure. He continues in this role at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), following the merger of FCO and DFID. The FCDO leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty and to help to save lives when humanitarian emergencies hit. SAG provides independent and impartial strategic advice on departmental science and research policy and programmes to help FCDO meet its objectives by assuring the quality and appropriateness of its substantial research portfolio.
Ochieng is a Scientific Advisor at the UK Department for Transport (DfT) and a Member of the Science and Technology Council of the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL). In 2020, he made a significant contribution to the preparation of the UK Parliament Office for Science and Technology (POST) Parliamentary Briefing on “Key EU Space Programmes’. In November 2021, Ochieng was in the first group of experts invited to give evidence to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Science & Technology on ‘UK Space Strategy and UK Satellite Infrastructure’.
In Europe, Ochieng led a report to the European Parliament on the Status of the Deployment of SESAR and was an advisor to the European Court of Auditors on the deployment of SESAR. Beyond Europe, He is a Member of the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services Special Group 134 (RTCM SC-134) on Integrity Monitoring of High Accuracy GNSS-based applications, and the United States Institute of Navigation.
In Africa, Ochieng is a Member of the Program Steering Committee (PSC) of FCDO’s Sustainable Urban Economic Development (SUED) program. The PSC helps oversee programme implementation through the provision of strategic direction and insights on new interventions and innovations. He serves as an advisor on the UK-Kenya Technology and Innovation Challenge Board Chaired by the UK High Commissioner in Nairobi.
Ochieng holds a Bachelor of Science (First Class) in Engineering from the University of Nairobi, and Master of Science (Distinction) and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Nottingham.
In 2023 a Doctor of Science (DSc) degree (honoris causa) was conferred on him by the Technical University of Kenya and received one the highest National awards (Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear – EBS) from the President of Kenya for his exemplary, significant and sustained contributions to Kenya and the world.
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