It was announced yesterday that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, one of the key figures in the development of the World Wide Web and Professor at the University of Southampton, would be a recipient of the first Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, along with Louis Pouzin, Robert Kahn, Vinton Cerf and Marc Andreessen.
The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was established by the UK government to highlight outstanding examples of achievement in the field of engineering, with the goal of hopefully inspiring an increase in awareness and participation among the general public. In the words of its organisers:
The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering will discover and celebrate stories of engineering success, raise the international public profile of engineering and inspire new generations of engineers to take up the challenges of the future.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a Professor at the University’s School of Electronics and Computer Science, is generally recognised as one of the most important contributors to what has become one of the main foundations of today’s digital communications, namely the World Wide Web.
To accompany the prize, the committee elaborated on the reasons for their choice of winners:
The Internet and the WWW is an engineering achievement that has changed the direction of the world. The Internet and WWW led to a communications revolution of unprecedented power and impact. Today a third of the world’s 7 billion population use the internet and estimates are that it carries 330 Petabytes of data per year. This is enough to transfer every character ever written in every book ever published twenty times over. The first QE Prize for Engineering was awarded to five people who made major contributions to the development of the internet and the WWW.
Of the other individuals to also receive the award, Louis Pouzin, Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf all had considerable influence upon the underlying framework that enables the Internet to function. What’s more, Marc Andreessen created the Mosaic browser which would become the first popular instance of the applications that allow many to access the Web.
The five winners will each receive a portion of the £1m prize and shall be presented with the award in June by the Queen herself.
For more information visit the prize website here.