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RAEng VP project


The Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professors scheme aims to use the experience of senior industrialists (the Visiting Professors) to enhance the knowledge and skills of UK engineering graduates. Richard Baker, RAEng was the Visiting Professor in Engineering Supply Chain Innovation at the University of Leeds from October 2015 – September 2018.

Engineering innovation is widely recognised as a key to business success. Transitions to new business models, including Design & Make supply networks and through life support services such as the Rolls-Royce TotalCare® package, are creating innovation opportunities through entire supply chains. Engineering and other graduates benefit from supply chain awareness and skills to operate effectively in these emerging innovation contexts. There is a high demand for graduates to work in supply chain related roles with 366 graduate employment and work experience opportunities advertised to Leeds students in the 2014/15 academic year [Source: University of Leeds Vacancy Database]. In contrast, the coverage of supply chain issues in universities’ engineering curricula tends to be limited. Reasons for this include limited access to industrialists with practical supply chain experience and limited linkage to research that is largely carried out in business schools, with a focus on the firm, rather than the focus on products, services and associated innovation processes to which engineers can make a significant contribution.

As Head of Supplier Engineering for Rolls-Royce and chair of the Aerospace, Defence & Securities Industry Body (ASD) SC21 Design Excellence programme, Richard was central to the development of innovative solution to address the types of challenge faced today and increasingly in the future for aerospace supply chains:

  • Understanding and developing engineering capability
  • Effective capture and flow down of customer requirements
  • Regulatory oversight
  • Supply chain integration

The following were the objectives for this project:

  • RAISING AWARENESS OF ENGINEERING INNOVATION AND WHERE IT HAPPENS: by introducing engineering supply chain innovation to Leeds students and developing materials through the introduction of real-world case studies.
  • DEMONSTRATING SUPPLY CHAIN AWARENESS: by establishing resources for the development of employability skills in engineering students. These will enhance existing activities by adding technical supply chain dimensions to student-centred activities such as skills challenges, mock interviews and mock assessment centre tasks.
  • DOING ENGINEERING INNOVATION AND DEVELOPING SUPPLIER INNOVATION: by supervising student projects in the area of engineering supply chain innovation that couple academic research and with real world experiences from the VP. The first tranche
  • of projects will be related to the design and evaluation of capability audit tools for use across supply networks and issues in the identification of suppliers’ potential to innovate.
  • SUSTAINABILITY AND IMPACT: by developing digital assets that can be embedded in taught courses, during and beyond the period of this award, at Leeds and more widely.
  • CATALYSIS AND NETWORKING: by using synergies across the university to support students from non-engineering disciplines in the identification and management of supply chain issues.