Richard Noble is quite a character. The 63-year-old Scot has a fair bit of ‘previous’ when it comes to breaking world land speed records, having held it in one way or another since 1983.
The record attempt (scheduled to start in 2011) is going to grab the headlines, but the real achievement for the project is what it’s going to do for British engineering.
I had the privilege of speaking to Noble this morning, and he had some quite blunt views on what Britain needs to be doing more of.
“We’re in the middle of a deep, dark recession and things aren’t going to get too much better any time soon,” he said “Britain needs to get back to what we’re good at – engineering, design, manufacturing and exporting – not gambling away money in financial markets.”
Couldn’t agree more. Noble said when they started the project, they found a chronic lack of engineers in this country and something needed to be done.
So far, Noble’s team have got 2410 primary schools involved in Bloodhound with the aim of making engineering cool again. Evidence so far suggests that university admissions to engineering course are up two to three per cent, while applications at the two universities sponsoring the project are up anything between 30-50 per cent.
Noble also spoke of the challenges of funding a project such as this in the UK. “There’s no obvious funding,” he said. “Government wouldn’t back a project like this as it’s linked to a minority sport, motor racing. But we’re getting there with the money and will keep on working getting the funds.”
I’m sure, like me, you’ll have your fingers crossed that Noble can pull this off and give British engineering the boost it needs.