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Mr Roy Wyatt: oration

Read Dr Philippe Blondel's oration on Mr Roy Wyatt for the honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering in July 2017.


Profile photograph of Mr Roy Wyatt
Mr Roy Wyatt

Vice-Chancellor, Mr Roy Wyatt is a distinguished leader of industry, with excellent credentials in applying the latest research to helping the environment and marine life.

Roy did his early studies in the late 1960s, getting A levels in Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Physics. He then went to University to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but had to stop short due to severe illness. As universities at this time, or at least this University, did not have the support network that we pride ourselves of having for example in Bath, Roy was never able to finish his degree. So he went straight to the next step, and “got a job”.

For 14 years, Roy worked as Project Engineer at Ameeco Hydrospace, now part of the Thales Underwater Systems group. During this time, Roy worked extensively with advanced naval sonars and instrumentation. In particular, he designed the original “black box” location system, still in use today. This design is still the world standard more than 30 years later and this is one example, amongst many, of how Roy’s innovation can leave long-lasting impacts. Other impacts are harder to present because they involved navies around the world and are more technical and often still classified. I prefer to remember Roy’s stories of testing instrumentation in Scandinavian waters and ship commanders showing their skills by racing in the dark in very narrow fjords, often mere metres from cliff walls, with no lights and in freezing waters.

Roy used his practical experience, gained as engineer and director of subsidiaries in the USA and in Sweden, to found a company called SDMA Ltd. in 1985. The business researched, designed and developed marine instrumentation systems, and it was eventually sold to SMA (a US company) in 1993. Roy then became director of Baysis Marine, then part of Cray Electronics, a major defence and electronics manufacturer. As Technical Director, he became responsible for the technical performance of the group, and his influence is still fondly remembered by the older engineers still working in this company.

This is there, with 22 years of experience as founder, managing director and board member of major sonar companies, that Roy started in 1997 his most successful adventure, the formation of Seiche Ltd. In collaboration with Professor Rodney Coates, who left us several years ago, Roy created a company specialising in Research & Development for the Oil and Gas and Renewable Energy sectors. This became recently the Seiche Water Technology Group, with the acquisition of other companies in the water sector, the autonomous under vehicle industry and connected fields. A strong portion of Roy’s personal work has been in helping the offshore industry to “save the whales” and in developing modern industrial practice. With a strong international presence in the US, Europe and South Africa, Roy has encouraged local talents and helped the research of promising young scientists in areas as diverse as protection of whales in South Africa or robotic engineering and protection of turtles in Malaysia. Regular Knowledge Transfer Partnerships with the University of Bath, all rated “Outstanding”, have led to the creation of new jobs in rapidly developing fields, leading the way in the South West.

Through his enthusiasm and direct engagement, Roy is an excellent role model for young people. Able to think “outside the box”, leading by example and applying his skills to making a better world, Roy is the rare combination of a thinker, an engineer and an influencer, extending the footsteps of Isambard Kingdom Brunel into the twenty-first century.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Mr Roy Wyatt, who is eminently worthy to receive the Degree of Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa.

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