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Professor Keith Pullen honours work of late Ron Dennis, winner of distinguished Rees Jeffreys award

City’s Professor of Energy Systems co-authors award-winning research into transportation technology for rural development in Africa.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

City’s Professor of Energy Systems, Professor Keith Pullen, has honoured the work of the late Ron Dennis, this year’s recipient of the distinguished Institution of Civil Engineers' (ICE) Rees Jeffreys Award.

The majority of Mr Dennis' engineering career was spent in the appropriate technology sector, researching and developing equipment tailored to the needs of poor rural communities, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Asian countries such as Nepal.

The late engineering researcher and lecturer won the Rees Jeffreys Award for a paper co-authored with Professor Pullen, titled, Vehicles for rural transport services in sub-Saharan Africa (published in Transport -Highways; Volume 170 Issue 6, December 2017).

Student projects

Mr Ron Dennis passed away almost two years ago at the age of 79.

He spent many years with the charity, Intermediate Technology Transport, and in higher education. In 2004, he joined Developing Technologies, set up by Professor Pullen and his wife Fiona. The charity was initially based at Imperial College London before moving to City to join Professor Pullen in 2008.

The work of Developing Technologies involves setting up engineering student projects with the joint aim of helping small non-governmental organisations in developing countries solve technological problems and educating students by encouraging them to work in this field. 

The charity has worked in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders.

Mr Dennis' Award was collected by his daughter Emily at a ceremony held by the ICE, also attended by Professor Pullen.

The winning research paper, which was only partially written at the time of Mr Dennis' passing, was completed by Professor Pullen; the challenge of doing this in his absence almost led to Professor Pullen's inability to complete the work.

Professor Pullen remarked:

The extra effort that had to be put in was made all the more worthwhile given that the paper won the ICE's Rees Jeffreys Award, particularly so, considering that Ron and I were trained as mechanical engineers.

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