L-R: Professor Dame Helen Atkinson DBE FREng, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent and Iain Ferguson CBE, Chair of the University’s Council

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent visited Cranfield University yesterday [28 February 2022] to see the latest research developments and new facilities at the Bedfordshire campus. The visit was an opportunity to thank The Duke of Kent for his support as Royal Visitor to the University, as he steps back from this role after many years of loyal service.

The Duke of Kent was welcomed to Bedfordshire by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis, and to the Cranfield campus by Professor Dame Helen Atkinson DBE FREng, Pro-Vice-Chancellor - School of Aerospace, Transport Systems and Manufacturing.

He began his visit by touring the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC), accompanied by Iain Ferguson CBE, Chair of the University’s Council. His Royal Highness was shown the latest research into aviation that takes place in the Passenger Experience Lab and Hangar Lab, addressing the most pressing challenges in the industry such as airport efficiency, shared airspace and aircraft reliability.

The Duke of Kent was also briefed on the research Cranfield is conducting into autonomous vehicles, transport safety and engineering, and given an overview of the Multi User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation.

Following this The Duke of Kent planted a new Liquidambar tree near Kent House – a building that he opened in 2012 - as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting initiative to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee.

Professor Mark Richardson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Cranfield Defence and Security, and Professor Andrew Shortland, Professor of Archaeological Science, then welcomed The Duke of Kent to the new Cranfield Forensic Institute (CFI).

CFI is a brand-new facility for forensic science research and teaching, featuring mock crime scenes, digital forensic investigation capabilities and forensic materials analysis labs. The new facilities are considered vital in boosting the role science plays in the criminal justice system, training the next generation of forensic scientists.

While in CFI The Duke was able to meet a number of students who are taking the MSc in Forensic Science, and discuss their learning experiences at Cranfield.

Professor Dame Helen Atkinson DBE FREng said: “The Duke has been a long and ardent supporter of Cranfield University and has always shown a keen interest in the research and teaching that we do here. It was a pleasure to show him the latest facilities we have on campus, and the innovative work that is being done into the future of transport. On behalf of the University and the Cranfield community, I want to thank him for supporting us across many years in the role of Royal Visitor.”

The visit concluded with a parting gift to The Duke of Kent, presented on behalf of the University by Professor Dame Helen Atkinson.

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis, said: “The Duke of Kent has had a long and fruitful association with Cranfield University and it was wonderful to welcome him once again to Bedfordshire. He leaves a lasting legacy of support and enthusiasm for all of the innovation and teaching that goes on at Cranfield. In the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, and Cranfield’s 75th anniversary year, this was a really special visit.”