Oral history of British science
Ash, Eric (Part 10 of 13)
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British Library, London
Ash, Eric, 1928- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 10 [43:29] Comments on merger of St Mary's Hospital Medical School and Imperial College: feelings at time that small medical schools should join with universities; strong culture of St Mary's making merger difficult; anecdote about uncertain vote in university Senate debate; anecdote about ceremony marking merger at Imperial contrasting with flags at half-mast at St Mary's; joint sporting and cultural activities; Vice Chancellor Brian Flowers support for merger; need for act of Parliament for merger; [05:15] lower standard of St Mary's research performance potentially damaging Imperial College REF grades; St Mary's later replacing EA hip; joint membership of councils; separation of financial accounts for a year to help build confidence; EA leaving Imperial in 1993. [08:30] Remarks on: having a single research student whilst Rector, lack of time to generate new research ideas due to administrative duties; taking on new PhD student in retirement at UCL; Brian Flowers' approach to being Vice Chancellor; limits of contact between Imperial and University of London; anecdote about EA leaving a University of London meeting early, only to discover that Imperial's budget had been cut in his absence; description of Brian Flowers, good scientists, likeable, EA difference of opinion with Flower's solution for personnel problem, disagreement with mechanical engineer over his use of PhD students to help his company, established Imperial work on environmental science with Gordon Conway, later of Ford and Rockefeller Foundations; [16:00] Remarks on EA reputation at Imperial: anecdote about being offered a contract extension; taking primary interest in research; spreading financial limits fairly during difficult environment for university funding. [18:15] Remarks on women in universities: visiting girls schools for prizes and speeches; making it a rule to offer an interview to every female student applying to UCL electrical engineering, anecdote about adventurous woman student. [21:10] Remarks on: enjoying role of Rector of Imperial; retirement in 1993 and return to UCL in retirement. [22:14] Remarks on retirement research into education at UCL: taking on PhD student; limited success of lectures; experiments with continually providing feedback to lecturers on their performance during lectures; limited uptake of similar schemes; EA earlier research into physical electronics; EA long running interest in educational technology, with reference to early computer teaching article in 'Scientific American'; [30:04] reasons for beginning research on topic; research funding for work in area; limited contact with psychologists in research. [31:50] Remarks on: advising Tata group in India, which he only recently retired from; EA work for Tata Consulting Engineers [TCE] in India, anecdotes managerial advice, such as higher pay for brighter staff; Tata's union problems; anecdote about encouraging transparency between research groups; [35:50] TCE shortage of engineers, EA trying to raise retirement age to retain skilled staff; trying to encourage stock options for staff; mixed reception of EA advice; EA success in encouraging Tata to emulate Tata Consulting Services [TCS] and improve their appearance to outsiders. [40:00] Remarks on presidency of the IEE [Institution of Electrical Engineers]: inaugural speech; speech making at lots of dinners; EA previously editing major IEE journal, decision to run journal on a more business-like basis.
Interview with electrical engineer, Eric Ash