Cardiff University Karen Holford

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Cardiff University Karen Holford

Professor Karen M Holford FREng, CEng, FIMechE, FLSW, FWES

Professor Karen M Holford FREng, CEng, FIMechE, FLSW, FWES

+44 (0)29 2068 8443 or +44 (0)29 2087 4823

Professor Holford’s engineering career spans industry and academia and is characterised by individual engineering excellence and leadership involving responsibility for people, finance and technical decisions.

She is the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Physical Sciences and Engineering at Cardiff University.  Prior to the she was Head of the School of Engineering.

Her career began at Rolls Royce where she contributed to a range of technical projects including work on the Adour and Pegasus engines in collaboration with engineers from Europe and the United States as well as development work in advanced engineering. At AB Electronic Products Karen was initially responsible for project management of a variety of technical projects including the design and development of a significant new product (a thin film pressure sensor for BMW ABS systems) as well as developing automotive electronic products for Jaguar Rover and was soon promoted to the role of senior engineer.

She has now worked in academia for over 25 years. The now substantial reputation of the AE group in Cardiff has grown through provision of research funds from EPSRC, TSB, EU and industrial sponsors. The strategy has been to achieve long-term quality by well-designed research and transfer of technology to field applications; recognition of this is exemplified by the high level of industrial support, the licence agreement with Physical Acoustics, an impact case study for REF 2014 and the Highways Agency advice note for the use on the technique in the field. Her approach has been to demonstrate the true potential of the method by exploitation of advances across many fields. Through this work, Cardiff University has gained an international reputation for research in AE and has the best equipped experimental AE facility in Europe. The group is making a major contribution to the knowledge of the technique of Acoustic Emission in particular the application of the technique to the location of faults in real engineering structures. The current work is not only addressing parts of the technique which were previously ignored, such as the relationship between the physical parameters and the detected signal, but also the use of computational techniques in order to exploit these features for classification purposes and to increase location accuracy. Karen has published 150+ research works including 80+ papers in peer-reviewed journals and led research projects totalling over £5M. Her primary research theme is damage assessment using acoustic emission applied across a range of industrial applications including bridges (commercialised under licence agreement with Physical Acoustics Ltd and included in a Highways Agency Advice note) and aerospace landing gear (with EPSRC and Messier-Dowty) and across a range of materials including composites (with Airbus and Boeing), concrete and metals.

Honours and awards

  • 2002 Royal Academy prize: “Engineering Excellence” in TCS work
  • 2006 Welsh Woman of the Year in Science and Technology “in recognition of notable achievements in her field”
  • 2007 WISE Excellence Award for “personal contribution to engineering and a long term commitment to supporting girls and young women in science and engineering”
Patents and Licences
  • 2005 Licence agreement awarded with Physical Acoustics Ltd for Monitoring of Bridges using Acoustic Emission

Professional memberships

  • Invited Keynote Speaker, World Conference on Acoustic Emission, Beijing, 2011.
  • Elected Member of EPSRC College of Peer Review since 2003
  • Invited Keynote Speaker, DAMAS 2009, Beijing, China.
  • Invited Seminars; UNSW Australia and Hong Kong Polytechnic (2007)
  • Chair, EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team
  • Member EPSRC Strategic Advisory Network
  • Chair of 27th European Conference on Acoustic Emission testing (Sept 2006)
  • Chair of 4th International Conference on Damage Assessment 2001 in Cardiff (sponsored by IMechE, IOP, EPSRC)
  • International Advisory Board; 19th International Acoustic Emission Symposium, Kyoto, Japan, 2008
  • Research degree examination; Reykjavík, Sheffield, Heriot-Watt, Cranfield, Robert Gordon, Swansea Loughborough and Southampton Universities
  • Journal reviewer for international journals including Journal of Sound and Vibration, the Journal of Strain Analysis for Engineering Design, Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing, Journal of Process Mechanical Engineering
  • External Examiner Cranfield University MSc in Motor Sport Engineering and Management (2004-2007)