The Irish engineering sector is honouring “engineering visionary” Professor Tony Fagan of UCD by awarding him the 2016 Parsons Medal.

The Irish Academy of Engineering awards the Parsons Medal for Engineering Sciences to engineers or engineering scientists of exceptional ability in research or engineering technology. Professor Tony Fagan is Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in UCD.

The Parsons Medal commemorates the work of Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, the inventor of the steam turbine. Sir Charles was an Anglo-Irish engineer, best known for his invention of the compound steam turbine. He worked as an engineer on dynamo and turbine design, and power generation, and had a great influence on the naval and electrical engineering fields. Previous winners of the medal include Dr. Patrick Prendergast, Provost of Trinity College Dublin and Professor (Michael) Peter Kennedy, Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University College Cork, both members of the Academy.

Eoin O’Driscoll, Irish Academy of Engineering commented, “Professor Tony Fagan is a very worthy recipient of the Academy’s Parsons Medal award. The award recognises engineers or engineering scientists of exceptional ability in research or engineering technology. Tony perfectly fits this description and through his work can rightly be described as an engineering visionary.”

“Professor Fagan’s field of excellence is Digital Signal Processing (DSP), a discipline crucial to the modern world of high-speed communications, the internet, multimedia content and modern medical imaging.”

“The technology of digital signal processing (DSP) and the associated advanced mathematical calculation methods needed within it is unknown to most of us. Yet, it has had a massive impact on our day-to-day life. As a result of DSP, information can be transferred at speeds a million times faster than was previously possible. If you watch television, connect to the Internet, use a digital camera, make a cell phone call, drive a car, type on the keyboard of a home computer, or use a charge or debit card, you are taking advantage of DSP – the technical brains in all those devices.”

“Through his far-seeing establishment in the early 1980s of a research group based at the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Professor Fagan has been prominent in creating a high-tech DSP ecosystem in Ireland and Dublin now has a ‘DSP Valley’ that is the envy of many high-tech regions elsewhere. From the time that DSP was in its infancy, Tony made sure that Ireland was participating strongly in the development and exploitation of this essential technology. Thanks to his foresight and hard work there are now several Irish companies that proudly walk the world stage supplying highly innovative DSP solutions to the global communications and medical device industries.”

“Professor Fagan has achieved this by contributing some innovative ideas that were derived from his advanced engineering research. Also, he has enabled many important industry-based developments directly and through his education and mentoring of a substantial number of engineers to PhD level and higher.”

Following early career experience as a project leader in Marconi Research Laboratories in the UK, Prof. Fagan returned to Ireland in 1980 and founded the DSP Research Centre group in UCD. Over 100 research students have graduated with Master’s degrees and PhDs. A number of significant spinout companies in DSP and related areas have emerged from his student groups, Massana, Voxpilot, BiancaMed, Deca Wave and Xerenet among others. Prof. Fagan has collaborated with and acted as consultant many major Irish-based digital and communications companies.

He has also obtained €4.5 million in research funding during his career. He has more than 130 peer-reviewed papers published in international journals and has personally supervised 49 masters degrees and 21 PhD students. Professor Fagan holds a BE (Electrical) from UCD and a PhD (Electronic Engineering) from NUI.

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