Professor Gary Hawley, executive director of IAAPS, has been named Person of the Year in the Automotive Testing Technology International Awards 2022.

Prof Hawley, previously Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, received the accolade for his efforts in driving forward the development of IAAPS and its new research facility, which opened this summer.

Described by the publication as a ‘revolutionary propulsion development centre’, the IAAPS facility was itself also shortlisted in the awards, in the Powertrain Test Facility of the Year category.

The judges described Prof Hawley’s work to bring the facility into reality as crucial, stating: ‘Simply put, the facility would not have become a reality without Hawley’s vision, patience and tireless energy. He relentlessly lobbied parliament and the Local Enterprise Partnership to help them understand the challenges faced by the auto industry and how a new type of R&D hub could add value for the sector and the UK.”

As well as securing £70 million in funding for the facility, Prof Hawley refocused Bath’s engineering research to focus on applied innovation, transforming the University’s expertise in propulsion systems research to focus on electric, electrified and hydrogen powertrains.

Prof Hawley also led engagement with the UK automotive industry to identify gaps in its digital engineering capability, which resulted in a unique digital tools partnership with testing equipment leader AVL. This has established IAAPS as a leader in areas including virtual reality and digital-twin technology, and helped it become the first centre worldwide to bring together every element of the virtual systems development toolset.

Alongside the IAAPS facility project, Prof Hawley has played a key role in the creation of the AAPS Center for Doctoral Training, which brings together students from engineering, science, maths and social sciences backgrounds, to equip them with the skills to take leading roles in UK automotive and related industries.

Prof Gary Hawley said: “To be nominated and subsequently recognised for these awards is an honour, but it should be noted that the new IAAPS experimental facility has been several years in the making with a host of contributions from many others.

“Propulsion research has had a footprint at Bath since 1966 when the University received its Royal Charter, and over the past 30 years this has been supported and sponsored by a host of automotive companies in the UK, and more recently by the aerospace sector in the journey to net zero flight.

“Funding awards this year to develop a hydrogen manufacturing facility are helping us to make our mark in the region and more widely, to spearhead net-zero propulsion and to demonstrate the effective use of hydrogen in building heating systems.

“This award, and the nomination for Powertrain Test Facility of the Year, will help to put IAAPS firmly on the global map of advanced research and innovation institutions tackling some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time.”

Professor Tim Ibell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering & Design, said: “This Person of the Year Award is such a fitting statement for our friend and colleague, Gary Hawley. This award recognises and celebrates Gary’s extraordinary international leadership in the automotive industry.

“His vision for IAAPS, his determination to make it happen, and the legacy he leaves us all are rather special achievements, so rightly recognised through this award. Indeed, to also see IAAPS itself shortlisted for the Powertrain Test Facility of the Year Award simply underlines this success. What an accolade for Gary and IAAPS, and what wonderful news for the University of Bath more broadly. Congratulations, Gary!”