The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL / Birkbeck

Prof Alan Smith

Prof Alan Smith

Professor of Detector Physics

Dept of Space & Climate Physics

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jul 1995

Research summary

Professor Smith research interests include space technologies, systems engineering with an enterprise context, and technology planning.


University of Leicester
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1976
University of Leicester
First Degree, Bachelor of Science | 1973


Professor Alan Smith has a background of Astrophysics, Instrumentation, Space Research and Systems Engineering. He has been involved in sounding rocket and satellite programmes for almost 30 years, 8 of which were spent at the European Space Agency. Since joining UCL in 1990 he has become: Associate Director of Programmes and Head of Detector Physics at UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory (the largest University based space research organisation in the UK); Director of UCL's Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems and Academic Coordinator of the Sira-UCL Postgraduate Training Partnership; Director of UCL's Centre for Systems Engineering (UCLse); and more recently, Director of the Laboratory and Head of its host Department, the Department of Space and Climate Physics. As Director UCLse he delivers two of the MSc modules (Systems Design and System Integrity), supervises postgraduate students, and undertakes a research programme. He provides consultancy support and workshops in systems engineering to industry. Professor Smith is vice-Dean Enterprise within the faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at UCL. Professor Smith teaches Project Management widely within UCL including Association of Project Management accredited courses through UCL's Department of Management and Innovation.

A continuing theme is Professor Smith's career has been the furtherance of all issues associated with the development of complex, novel instrumentation systems. A strong background in applied physics provides an appreciation of the fundamentals of such systems. His experiences working with all the major space agencies in highly structured programmes has allowed him to appreciate and contribute to the systems engineering process, With UCL he was promoted systems engineering both through the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems and through the Centre for Systems Engineering (of which he is the founder Director).