The Distinguished Aerospace Alumni Award: Celebrating the long-term achievements of outstanding alumni in the aerospace industry.

The Distinguished Aerospace Alumni Award is one of Cranfield University’s highest honours. It recognises those individuals who have achieved significant success within the aerospace industry/sector, while upholding the highest standards in industry practice.

Alumni who have won this award will:

  • Have sustained professional achievement at the highest levels: professional achievement may be viewed in terms of:
    • Technology/engineering/commercial leadership.
    • Achieving transformational change in an organisation.
    • Significant and successful project management.
    • Contribution to company profitability and job creation.
    • Significant impact on their industry and sector, beyond their own role and organisation.
  • Have international visibility: influence/experience working across different geographic regions.
  • Be regarded as a role model for leadership.
  • Demonstrated innovation and creativity.
  • Be committed to sustainability: reducing the negative impact of aerospace on environment.
  • Achieved other awards and recognitions.
  • Have a previous relationship with Cranfield or be committed to supporting Cranfield in the future.

Meet the 2021 Distinguished Aerospace Alumni Award Winner

Chris Gear (MSc Aircraft Design 1984)

Project Director, FlyZero for the ATI

Chris Gear

Chris has a wealth of experience in the aerospace industry, having led major strategic projects, including in the areas of disruptive and novel technologies. He was Chief Technology Officer for GKN Aerospace from 2014 to 2019 and ran the Global Technology Department for the engineering group. Prior to that, as Vice President & Chief Engineer of GKN Aerospace, Chris led the engineering and technology team on several major projects A350 Rear Spar, A400M Front & Rear Spar and numerous composite airframe components.

Chris began his career as a Graduate Apprentice with Dowty Group Services, before taking on engineering and management roles within the industry. His experience covers many facets of the FlyZero programme - from design and research, to manufacturing process development, operational costs, product strategies and airworthiness. He graduated from Cranfield Institute of Technology with an MSc in Aircraft Design in 1984 and is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Visiting Professor for Bath University with the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Meet the 2020 Distinguished Aerospace Alumni Award Winner

Dr Sarah Qureshi (PhD Aerospace 2016)

CEO & Co-founder Aero Engine Craft Private Limited
Visiting Academic, Aerospace, Transport and Manufacturing, Cranfield University

Dr Sarah QureshiDr Sarah Qureshi is commercialising her PhD research on Contrail-free Aero-engines as the CEO and co-founder of Aero Engine Craft (Private) Limited. She is also a Visiting Academic at the Centre for Propulsion Engineering at Cranfield University, working with the research group on “pro-environment jet engines”.

Sarah obtained a PhD degree in Aerospace Propulsion under the supervision of Professor Pericles Pilidis on a thesis entitled “Contrail-free Aero-engines” whereby she researched the development of an environment-friendly aero-engine, which was derived from a novel patented technology. During her initial PhD research, Sarah assisted the inventor with patenting the contrail-free aero-engine. The invention has been granted two international patents and has tremendous potential in bringing about an environmental revolution in the context of aviation.

Dr Sarah Qureshi, along with the inventor of the technology, Mr. Masood Latif Qureshi, has now set up Aero Engine Craft (Private) Limited, as Pakistan’s first commercial aero- engine R&D company to convert this patented technology into a full-scale application for the global aviation industry. Prior to this, Sarah completed her MRes degree in Aerospace Dynamics at Cranfield University with Dr James Whidborne. Her research involved the design of an autopilot for unmanned aircraft (UAVs) in formation flying for mid-air refuelling.

She has recently co-invented and filed a patent for a supersonic commercial aircraft engine. Sarah is a licensed pilot and learned acrobatic flying with flight instructor Richard Rogers while at Cranfield. Prior to her postgraduate studies at Cranfield, Sarah graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from Pakistan and gained work experience in the local industry. 

You can also watch a video introducing Sarah below: