Cranfield University lecturer Dr Eric Goodger celebrated his 100th birthday this week with a lecture to students on his favourite topic – fuels and combustion.

Dr Goodger has been a Cranfield University lecturer for many years following his career as a Cranfield academic. With COVID-19 preventing him from appearing in person, Eric delivered his first live lecture using Teams yesterday (July 9). The University believe he may be the oldest person to conduct a lecture using the technology.

The invited online audience of Cranfield Propulsion Engineering Centre MScs, PhD students, colleagues and business guests had plenty of questions for someone whose career has spanned around 80 years.

Goodger “cut his teeth” on the Spitfire Merlin Engine

After completing his degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Eric served in the Royal Air Force in Europe. During World War II, as an Engineer Officer, he was involved with the repairing and salvaging of Spitfire aircraft throughout the UK and during the Overlord invasion of Europe, working from the Normandy beaches to well inside Germany. Dr Goodger says he cut his technological teeth on the Spitfire’s Merlin engine.

He undertook fuel research with British Petroleum at Sunbury in the UK, then spent some years as Foundation Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Newcastle, NSW in Australia, and as Visiting Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College, London.

Lifetime Contribution Award by the Energy Institute

For most of his career, he has been based at Cranfield University teaching and researching into conventional fuels, rocket reactants, spraying, spontaneous ignition, combustion and, latterly, alternative fuels.

In 2019 Eric was presented with a Lifetime Contribution Award by the Energy Institute, a not-for-profit chartered professional membership body, bringing together expertise to tackle urgent global challenges. The award recognised his contribution to the sector in support of the Institutes objectives. Dr Bernie Bulkin, the Vice President of the Energy Institute attended the University to present the award of a crystal carafe.

Professor Helen Atkinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Cranfield University, said: “Eric’s deep and broad knowledge and enthusiasm for fuels is his passion. He is helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. We wish him continued good health and hope to see him at Cranfield again soon.”

Petroleum fuels are “handing over the reigns to hydrogen”

Dr Goodger said: “I am so grateful to Cranfield for enabling me to contribute to research and the teaching of my favourite subject for so many years.

“Like me, petroleum fuels are entering their home straight, and although they could last for another 50 years or so, they are already handing over the reins to hydrogen, with consequent improvements in the quality of the atmosphere.” He added: “As I always say, there is no fuel like an old fuel!”

He remains a supporter of current research at Cranfield such as the ENABLEH2 project which includes research and innovation of technologies that have the potential to significantly reduce the impact of civil aviation on the environment.

The Cranfield faculty and students will hold a virtual birthday celebration of his mile-stone birthday with Dr Goodger following the lecture on Thursday. He is also planning to deliver another lecture the following day.

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