The Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Awards recognise the exceptional achievements of our manufacturing alumni while showcasing the global impact of Cranfield University.

Meet the 2022 Distinguished Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award winner

Dr Peter Thompson FREng FInstP FRSC (PhD in the School of Industrial and Manufacturing Science 1992) 

CEO, National Physical Laboratory

Dr Peter ThompsonDr Peter Thompson FREng FInstP FRSC is CEO of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK’s National Metrology Institute (NMI), which is widely regarded as one of the leading NMIs in the world.

Peter joined NPL as CEO in 2015 and has overseen the laboratory’s development and growth in recent years aligned to the UK’s National Challenges. This has included providing strategic leadership and oversight of NPL-led programmes including the Cancer Research UK Rosetta Cancer Grand Challenge, National Timing Centre programme, Quantum programme, Measurement for a Recovery programme and the Advanced Machinery and Productivity initiative.

Peter holds several international advisory positions, including on the International Advisory Board of the National Institute of Metrology (NIM) in China, as well as advising nationally in areas such as the National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP).

Peter brings a passion for diversity and inclusion in science and engineering and a focus on maximising impact for end users. His previous roles include strategic advisor to MOD’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Board Member and Deputy Chief Executive of Dstl and Head of the Counter Terrorism, Science and Technology Centre.

Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the recipient of two MOD Chief Scientific Advisor Commendations and the US NIMUC award.

Peter said: “I am delighted and honoured to be awarded the Distinguished Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award. I have fond memories of my time at Cranfield University having studied at the School of Industrial and Manufacturing Science. What I learnt during those years has stayed with me throughout my career and I am grateful to the university for recognising my subsequent work.”


Meet the 2022 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Sarah Black-Smith (MSc Operations Excellence 2016)

General Manager Motion Control, Siemens Digital Industries

Sarah Black-SmithSarah Black-Smith is the General Manager Motion Control at Siemens Digital Industries. Before this, Sarah led the Factory Operations at the Siemens Digital Industries factory in Congleton since December 2018, having previously been Head of Manufacturing. Sarah has worked for Siemens for 20 years and held several Operational positions within the Siemens Energy business in Lincoln prior to working in Congleton. Siemens is a technology company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare solutions.

Sarah completed her undergraduate BEng (Hons) Manufacturing Engineering and Management at Loughborough University in 2004, followed by an MSc in Operations Excellence at Cranfield University in 2016, and started a Global MBA at Alliance Manchester Business School in 2021.

She is currently a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the Sustainable Manufacturing Systems Centre at Cranfield University and Chair of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for the North Wales area.

Sarah is passionate about helping UK Manufacturers become more productive and believes that diversity is the key to unlocking our potential in Engineering and Manufacturing to drive new ideas and ways of application. Sarah was also listed in The Manufacturer Top 100.

Sarah said: "I am incredibly honoured and proud to win this award, it is lovely to be recognised by Cranfield University. I gained so much from my time at Cranfield and continue to learn from my connections there.  I am incredibly passionate about manufacturing and, in particular, our manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom.  We have amazing people in this industry and ensuring we have strong academic ties is key to ensuring we remain at the cutting edge and remain productive, competitive and sustainable for generations to come."

Meet the 2021 Distinguished Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award Winner

Dr Pam Murrell FICME (PhD in the School of Applied Sciences 1990)

Chief Executive, Cast Metals Federation

Pamela Murrell Distinguished Manufacturing Alumna 2021Pam Murrell is the Chief Executive of the Cast Metals Federation (CMF), the Trade Association for the UK casting industry. The CMF represents and supports its members (UK foundries and suppliers to the industry) and is the UK member of the European Foundry Association (CAEF).

Pam completed a PhD on Fracture and Fatigue at Cranfield University, following a BSc Hons Degree in Metallurgy and Materials Science from Cardiff University. 

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers (ICME), a Board member of the European Investment Casters’ Federation, a Trustee of the Tor Lodge & Applecross Trust, Chair of the World Foundry Organisation Working Group on Vocational Training & Professional Development, and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Founders. 

Since there were no foundry specific programmes available following the demise of various college-based courses, a particular focus of her work over the past 10 years has been to support a range of professional development programmes and short courses for the UK industry.  This contributed to the development of an EAL Level 3 Diploma in Casting and a new trailblazing apprentice standard for the casting and foundry industry, as well as the establishment, in 2018, of the National Foundry Training Centre - which was the first practical training facility for the industry in the UK for at least two decades.  Pam was awarded an ICME Meritorious Services Medal in 2014 and the Oliver Stubbs Medal in 2019.


Meet the 2021 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Yewande Mayomi-Akinola MBE FIET (MSc Innovation and Design for Sustainability 2012)

Engineering Designer and Innovator

Yewande Akinola Yewande is a chartered engineer, innovator and speaker. Her engineering experience includes the design and construction, innovation and manufacture of buildings and systems in the built environment. She has worked on projects in the UK, Africa, the Middle East and East Asia, and has been named the UK Young Woman Engineer of the Year by the Institution of Engineering & Technology.

Yewande has also been awarded the Exceptional Achiever Award from the Association for BAME Engineers and the Association of Consultancy and Engineering, UK (ACE).

Yewande is passionate about STEM communication and has presented engineering programmes for television. In the 2020 New Year Honours list, she was awarded an MBE for services to engineering innovation and diversity in STEM.

She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster, and was has recently been appointed the UK's Innovation agency (Innovate UK) Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure. Yewande is also a Trustee of the Institution of Engineering and Technology.


Meet the 2020 Distinguished Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award Winner

Dr Ayotunde Coker, FIOD (MSc Engineering and Management of Manufacturing Systems 1989)

Managing Director and CEO, Rack Centre

Dr Ayotunde Coker has over 30 years’ international experience across Europe, the USA, Asia and Africa. Born in Nigeria, he attended school in Lagos before continuing his undergraduate and postgraduate education at universities in the UK.

He had a distinguished career spanning 28 years in the UK with roles including Senior Analyst at Ford of Europe, Senior Management Consultant at Cap Gemini UK, CEO at eMCSaatchi UK, Director at Egg Bank UK, Global Applications Director at BP, Chief Technology Officer at the UK Criminal Justice and Group IT Director at the UK Ministry of Justice. In 2007, he was appointed Chair of the UK Government Enterprise Architecture Board.

Dr Coker returned to Nigeria in 2009 as Group CIO of Access Bank before becoming MD and CEO of Emerging Markets Payments Group. He is now Managing Director and CEO at Rack Centre, which he has built to be a household name and a leading data centre brand in Africa – achieving global recognition and numerous international awards. He is also Secretary General of the Africa Data Association.

During his time at Cranfield, Ayotunde won the Institute of Production Engineers Award. He was also named IT Man of the Year in 2015 and IT Personality of the Year in Nigeria in 2019. He is a Fellow at the Institute of Directors (UK) and the British Computer Society, and an Honorary Senior Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. He also holds a PhD (Honoris Causa) by ESCAE University, Republic of Benin. His hobbies include golf and playing the pipe organ.

Meet the 2020 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Abdullah Alhuthlul (MSc Knowledge Management for Innovation 2011)

General Manager Branches Affairs - Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Saudi Arabia

Since graduating from Cranfield, Abdullah Alhuthul has demonstrated remarkable career development – being appointed into prestigious positions within the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce and Energy, and the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Material Resource.

Abdullah began his career as a trainee with Aramco – Saudi Arabia’s national oil company. After completing his MSc in Knowledge Management for Innovation, and carrying out group research projects working with Airbus and Visteon, Abdullah decided to return to his home country to build up his career using the skills he had developed during his time at Cranfield. After just four years of working as a Senior Industrial Information Analyst at Saudi Industrial Development Fund, he was appointed into the prestigious position of Director of Business Development at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Following this, he moved to the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources as General Manager of the National Industrial Information Centre, before returning to the Ministry of Commerce and Investment in 2018. He is now the General Manager of Branches Affairs and is responsible for all regional investments of Saudi Arabia from the Federal Ministry.

Meet the 2019 Distinguished Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award Winner

Philip Wingrove (MSc Logistics and Transportation 1996, Fellowship in Manufacturing 2003)

Site Director, 'South Yard' Princess Yachts

Philip is a highly-experienced global operations director with international expertise across supply chain, manufacturing and aftermarket support in a range of regulated industries.

Previously he was Vice President of Operations at Orolia and took voluntary redundancy after restructuring the UK Business. He has now nearly completed renovating a house and is starting to provide consulting and interim management services.

At Orolia, Philip was responsible for forming an integrated operations team across eight sites and five countries. This also included three M and A integrations.

At Boeing Defence UK, he was instrumental in reducing aircraft turnaround time by 81% and at the UK MoD Philip increased Chinook maintenance output by 45% in one year. He also worked for Smiths Medical and took the Tijuana Mexico plant from worst to best performer in the division in one year.

Philip is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Fellow of the Association of Manufacturing Managers, and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.

Meet the 2019 Excellence in Achievement Award for Recent Manufacturing and Materials Graduates Winner

Svyatoslav Prokhorov (MSc Knowledge Management for Innovation 2011)

Head of Ecosystem Russia & CIS, Bombardier Transportation GmbH

Svyatoslav is an experienced and highly qualified expert in the transport sector with a proven track-record in developing and setting up new businesses in close cooperation with local partners.

He is Head of Ecosystem of Bombardier Transportation in Russia and CIS, where he leads a local team and a company-owned engineering centre aimed at creating value for major domestic and international projects. Bombardier Transportation is the world’s only manufacturer of planes and trains - from business jets and commercial aircraft, to sleek high speed trains and ‘smart’ public transport.

He is particularly interested in digitalisation, people management, and cognitive flexibility where he is trying to find and implement best practices.

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award

  • Mahendra Patel (MSc Industrial Engineering and Administration 1973)
  • Dr Gareth Williams (Fellowship in Manufacturing Management 1988)
  • Andy Palmer (PhD School of Applied Sciences 2003)

Previous recipients of the Excellence Manufacturing and Materials Alumni Award

  • Alexandra Brintrup (MSc Computational and Software Techniques in Engineering 2003, PhD School of Applied Sciences 2006)
  • Carlotta Rigatti (MSc Global Product Development and Management 2012)