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Robot Wars academic leads School into new era

Posted: 21st February 2019

Professor Simeon Keates is new Dean of SEBE

AN inspirational academic who featured in TV’s Robot Wars has taken charge of Edinburgh Napier’s award-winning School of Engineering and the Built Environment.

Professor Simeon Keates has been appointed Dean after five years at the University of Greenwich which saw him manage a wide range of engineering disciplines and build links with major names in industry.

Professor Keates, who has an honours degree and a doctorate from the University of Cambridge, has special interests in inclusive design, Artificial Intelligence, human-computer interaction and robotics, and earlier held posts at Abertay University and the IT University of Copenhagen.

A robot he helped build from an upturned shopping trolley, other scrap metal and an old wheelchair motor featured on the popular BBC TV Robot Wars show.

Now he is looking to enhance Edinburgh Napier’s reputation for producing industry-ready graduates and innovative research at a School which has won the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize twice in the last decade.

Professor Keates, who is passionate about encouraging young people into careers in engineering, said: “I am truly delighted to take on this role. Edinburgh Napier has an excellent reputation for preparing students for the world of work.

“We wish to build on that as we prepare graduates not only for jobs today, but also for the jobs of the future.”

Professor Keates left Cambridge in 2003 after completing an MA and PhD in Engineering and seven years as a Research Fellow specialising in inclusive design and rehabilitation robotics.

He had spells in industry in the USA with IBM and ITA Software, before taking up roles as Associate Professor at the IT University of Copenhagen then Head of the School of Engineering, Computing and Applied Mathematics at Abertay University.

He joined the University of Greenwich as Dean of the School of Engineering and later became Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor in the Faculty of Engineering and Science. He managed all the major engineering disciplines and industrial partnerships, including those with Ford, BAE Systems and the Royal School of Military Engineers.

His research interests include user-centred design, Artificial Intelligence, human-computer interaction, robotics, novel computer architectures and machine-learning, and he is a prolific author and editor of books and research papers.

Professor Keates’ role at Edinburgh Napier sees him head a School which prepares students for a diverse range of engineering careers, and also hosts the renowned Transport Research Institute and Institute for Sustainable Construction research centres.

The impact of the Merchiston-based School’s timber engineering and wood science research was recognised with the award of a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2015, following on from a previous success in 2009.

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