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New fellowship in memory of chemical engineer MP

31 March 2010

A new fellowship post in memory of the late Ashok Kumar MP has been unveiled by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC). The launch of the Ashok Kumar commemorative fellowship was announced on Monday (29 March) by the speaker of the UK parliament, John Bercow MP at a celebration of Dr Kumar’s life, attended by family, friends and colleagues. IChemE and NEPIC are joint sponsors of the fellowship.

The late Ashok Kumar MP
The late Ashok Kumar MP

Politicians from all parties were in attendance, including secretary of state for the environment, Hilary Benn MP, for whom Kumar – the only chemical engineer to hold a seat in the House of Commons - had worked as parliamentary private secretary up until his death.

Kumar died suddenly on 16 March 2010 at the age of 53. He was a stalwart supporter of the chemical and process industries, particularly those in the North East of England close to the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency he represented.

The annual doctoral fellowship will be based in the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and will enable a succession of chemical engineers to gain experience in the world of parliament, exploring ways in which chemical and process engineering can support policy makers and deliver benefits for wider society.

IChemE’s director of policy, Andrew Furlong, says: “IChemE is delighted to support the fellowship that has been created in Ashok’s memory.  It will help to improve political understanding of the value of engineering and vice versa. This is a fitting tribute and I know that Ashok would have approved.

“Ashok was not only a fighter and an outstanding constituency member of parliament, he was also a good friend and his presence will be sorely missed. He had many special qualities; not least that in a political world dominated by lawyers and economists he was fiercely proud of his technical background and he remained a chemical engineer until the day he died.”

Stan Higgins, NEPIC chief executive said: “Ashok was one of too few parliamentarians to properly understand science and technology. He worked very closely with NEPIC as he understood that industrial and technology clusters are key to economic development. We are proud to co sponsor this scholarship with the hope that it will encourage more scientists and engineers to consider a parliamentary career to help steer the technological society of the future.”

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