SCI Lampitt Medal awarded to Prof John Bensted

SCI has awarded the 2010 Lampitt Medal to Professor John Bensted for his outstanding contribution to the work of the Society, specifically for his work within the Construction Materials Group. Prof Bensted's long and distinguished career includes more than 17 years with Blue Circle Cement, becoming a principal scientist, where he was actively involved with researching different types of cements and technical troubleshooting at cement plants. He was later headhunted by BP, working not only in research and development, but also global internal consultancy, spending time in Belgium and the former Soviet Union. Later, he became an international consultant in cement and concrete technology for the oil, construction and chemical industries.

How do you feel about being recognised as a Lampitt Medallist?
JB: I feel very honoured to have been awarded the Lampitt Medal, the highest decoration given by SCI. Keeping in the forefront of scientific and engineering issues in the 21st century, with an infrastructure that allows member Groups to design their own programmes has been a healthy way forward for the SCI, which I have regularly enjoyed as a member. Receiving the Lampitt Medal, and thus following in the footsteps of some very distinguished previous recipients, really is the icing on the cake!

What inspires and motivates you?
JB: I have always been inspired by leading scientists and engineers within or associated with industrial chemistry, and motivated by the realisation that, within the UK in particular, such people have become to some extent an endangered species. It is important that 'older hands' can associate through meetings and conferences, to facilitate technology transfer with 'younger hands'. This is a two-way process, because 'older hands' need to keep themselves up to date where possible and not become 'fossilised'!

Where do you see SCI's biggest opportunities in the future?
JB: SCI has an invaluable infrastructure based on Technical and Regional Interest Groups that can allow renewal of applied science and engineering. Due to the loss of much heavy industry in particular, and the shedding of many technical jobs, there is a need to encourage younger people to join SCI, especially from universities. Public lectures on important scientific and engineering issues at the present time are valuable for sustaining and developing these ideas. The unfortunate lack of sufficient respect for science, technology and engineering, particularly in the UK, needs to be borne in mind and suitably addressed. However, at long last there is increasing realisation among politicians and opinion formers that manufacturing industry should be revitalised - financial services alone cannot provide a balanced economy, as shown by the recent banking crisis.

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