This article is honouring Lord John Fleetwood Baker, who was the first ever winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award. He was a civil engineer who is arguably responsible for the lives of many today through the work that he carried out during his engineering career.
One of the main projects that Lord John Baker is commemorated for was his invention of the Morrison Shelter, produced and introduced in March 1941.
Lord John Baker used the properties of steel to demonstrate that plastic deformation absorbs more energy than elastic deformation. He put his findings to use by constructing a shelter to protect individuals from building collapse during air raids in the Second World War.
The shelter was constructed from materials that were available at the time, due to the demand for materials for the war effort, which were mainly steel and wood. It was constructed to fit a family of up to three people.
As a civil engineer, Lord John Baker considered the practicality of the shelter as well as its safety. This involved making the shelter multipurpose so that it could fit into small city houses. The shelter doubled as a dining room table with the sides of the structure folding under, making it a normal item of furniture in people’s homes. The structure became the preferred form of protection due to it being within the comfort of peoples’ own homes.
The structure proved to be considerably successful when only three out of 136 people occupying Morrison Shelters died during a bombing raid affecting 44 houses. The three casualties were from the building directly hit by the bomb, therefore supporting Lord Baker’s argument that the structures could survive most bomb related impacts except a direct hit.
The second life achievement that The Institute commends Lord Baker for is for his contribution towards the training of engineers.
Lord Baker initially influenced the way engineering was taught by introducing ‘The Advanced Course in Production Methods and Management,’ formerly known as the Reddaway Scheme.
The course was considered unconventional by most but offered a true insight into the engineering industry. Those enrolled needed to be sponsored by a company and there were no formal exams or qualifications. The course was 52 weeks long and students gained a real hands on experience of the engineering industry, spending most of their time onsite in factories, where they were expected to report any engineering problems they discovered to the factory management.
Lord John Baker won the outstanding personal contribution award due to the number of lives he potentially saved through his work and The Institute hopes that this inspires others to apply for the award.
Click here to apply for the Outstanding Contribution Award.