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Image © Andy Rankine

2nd March 2023

67th RJ Mitchell Lecture

Engineering Prosperity:

Why wouldn’t everyone want to be an engineer? 

Alex Cresswell

CEO and Chairman of Thales UK


Thursday 2nd March 2023

6 pm - Drinks Reception

7 pm - Lecture

Turner Sims Concert Hall
Southampton SO17 1BJ

University of Southampton Maps

What3words:  ///harp.began.ritual

 Advanced Registration Required
Free Event open to all


We are pleased to be able to welcome Alex Cresswell to present the 67th RJ Mitchell lecture. 

Alex will share some of his thoughts about the contributions engineers make to a safer, more prosperous, and sustainable society, the lecture will look at some of the technical challenges at the forefront of the modern world; where digital technologies may lead, even to questions beyond the science. He will give a very personal account of the way a Southampton University graduate engineer considers some of the problems at the heart of our security, commerce, and transportation systems, and some of the challenges yet to be overcome. 

Images courtesy of Thales:

A graduate of the University of Southampton, Alex is a strong advocate for the benefits that science and technology can deliver to nations and individuals.  Inspired by a childhood passion for flight to study Aeronautics and Astronautics at Southampton University, he retains a life-long passion for the application of science and technology to transport, aerospace and defence. 

Alex was appointed Chief Executive and Chairman of Thales UK in 2020, following a 35- year global career within the aerospace and defence sectors.  Alex has been a member of Thales Group’s Executive Committee since 2010, and also has responsibilities for Thales in the USA, Australia and Canada.  

Directly employing 7,000 people UK-wide and contributing around £2bn to the country’s GDP, Thales in the UK provides safety and security infrastructure and sovereign capability to sectors as diverse as defence, banking, aerospace and transport.  Its varied projects range from delivering the digital identity and security that underpins our connected world, to designing the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. 

Alex joined Thales in the UK in 1992 and worked in many parts of the business before being appointed in 2013 as Executive Vice-President, Thales Land and Air Systems, a global business with €3.4Bn revenues and 11,000 employees.  

His achievements and contribution to the growth of the business led to his award investiture as aof‘Légion d'honneur’, in 2017.


History of the RJ Mitchell lecture

The R J Mitchell lecture is the prestige named lecture of the Solent branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Held annually, the lecture was established in 1954. Since that first lecture given by Mr. Joe Smith, a colleague of Mitchell's, many well known names from the aerospace world have accepted the invitation to present this lecture. The event has assumed international status with speakers from the USA and Europe.


Reginald Mitchell was the designer of the Supermarine Spitfire and the Schneider Trophy winning seaplane, the Supermarine S6B. Mitchell was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1895, and moved to Southampton in 1916 where he lived and worked until his death in 1937 at the early age of 42.

At the age of 24 he became chief designer and the following year was made chief engineer as well, for the Supermarine Aviation works which had its factory in the city. By the time he was 33 he was director and chief engineer of the company, which was then owned by the famous engineering firm of Vickers.

As well as the legendary Spitfire which first flew from what is now Southampton airport, he designed a total of 23 aircraft in just 16 years.

Past lectures

View details of the RJ Mitchell lectures since 1954 here.

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