Professor Jacques Heyman FREng was presented with the Sir Frank Whittle Medal at the Academy’s AGM on 20 September 2022 in recognition of his outstanding career in structural design.
Named after Britain’s jet engine genius, the Sir Frank Whittle Medal is awarded to an engineer resident in the UK whose outstanding and sustained achievements have had a profound impact on their engineering discipline.
For nearly 70 years, Professor Heyman has made vital contributions to structural engineering. His highly original research found that the design theorems developed to understand the plastic behaviour of steel structures could also be applied to masonry structures. This resulted in a paradigm shift in the understanding of structural behaviour and design and provided new insight into historical structural masterpieces, justifying the intuition of the great builders and engineers of the past.
Professor Jacques Heyman receiving the Sir Frank Whittle Medal from the President
Focusing on masonry structures, Professor Heyman used his deep knowledge of the architectural history of masonry construction, coupled with his own field observations and his research, to become the foremost authority on cathedrals. Movements of foundations or abutments in historic stone buildings produce patterns of fine cracks that can be ‘read’ to deduce what is causing the problem. He has advised on the safety of masonry vaults in many iconic structures, including Westminster Abbey, King’s College Cambridge, St George's Chapel Windsor, as well as Ely and Worcester Cathedrals.
From Gothic cathedrals to steel skyscrapers, Professor Heyman’s research has not only guided the design and repair of countless historic constructions around the world but paved the way for new low-carbon vaulted structures made from local materials, his work inspiring generations of structural engineers and others working in masonry and who seek to build modern structures with more efficient use of resources.
Professor David Muir Wood FREng FRSE, Emeritus Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Dundee, said “Professor Heyman’s profound knowledge of matters concerning masonry construction, together with forensic case studies of reported distress and failure have often led him to become the international ‘engineer of choice’ for solving structural masonry problems.”
Media enquiries to: Pippa Cox at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 207 766 0745; email: Pippa.Cox@raeng.org.uk