UCL News


Spotlight on Professor Catriona Savage

30 August 2017

This week the spotlight is on Professor Catriona Savage, MoD Chair in Naval Architecture and Programme Director of the

Catriona Savage ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/degrees/naval-architecture-msc" target="_self">MSc in Naval Architecture, UCL Mechanical Engineering.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I am the MoD Chair in Naval Architecture and Programme Director of the MSc in Naval Architecture. I also lead the Submarine Design and Acquisition CPD Course, which introduces naval architects and naval engineers to the basic elements governing the design and acquisition of submarines and underwater craft.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I joined UCL in April this year after spending more than 20 years in industry. I started my career at BMT Defence Services as a Graduate Naval Architect and progressed through BMT, becoming a Chartered Engineer, Head of Naval Architecture and finally Technical Director.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Although by no means the most significant project I have worked on, I gained great satisfaction from the first project I managed as a naval architect. This was because it addressed technical areas that the company had not previously had experience with, and it included design, testing, production and installation. I also learned a lot about building good customer relationships with one of our most demanding customers. 

It was hard work but probably represented one of my biggest learning curves. I often use it as an example when talking at schools and universities about careers.

Tell us about a project you are working on now that is top of your to-do list.

Having only been here for a short time I am still finding my feet but I am currently discussing interesting research opportunities with industry on Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. Alongside this, I will be actively looking to focus our research themes in Naval Maritime through development of close relationships with a number of key industry partners. I am particularly interested how we might further develop our research into maritime structures and concept design.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Very difficult to choose and I'd probably give you a different answer every time I'm asked the question. Today it's going to be:

Album: Out of Time, by REM

Film: Lawrence of Arabia

Book: I haven't chosen a novel since I don't read a lot of fiction, but instead I've selected: Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke, and Genius, Fugitive, Spy by Henry Hemming.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

A squirrel is in a tree and notices the leaves rustling. He looks down and sees an elephant trying to climb the tree. 

"What are you doing?" he asks. 

"Climbing up here to eat pears," the elephant responds.

"But… this isn't a pear tree," says the squirrel.

"That's okay," says the elephant, "I've brought my own."

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Eric Newby (sailed on the Moshulu Mariehamn during the grain trade and then wrote a marvellous book about it), Andy Kirkpatrick (mountaineer), Chrissie Wellington (previous Ironman World Champion) and C.S. Lewis. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Find good mentors and make good use of them.  

Thank people for doing things for you even if it is their job.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I've summited Mount Kilimanjaro.

What is your favourite place?

South Island, New Zealand.