title 2016 Scottish Award Recipients


Professor Dr. Iain Gray CBE

Professor Gray has 27 years industry experience in the aerospace sector including roles at British Aerospace and BAE Systems. He held various engineering positions before taking on the roles of Director of Engineering, then Managing Director at Airbus UK. He became the first Chief Executive of Innovate UK following its establishment in 2007. He joined Cranfield University in March 2015 where he leads the aerospace capabilities across the University and their strategic relationships with the world’s major aerospace industrial organisations.

Iain completed his early education in Aberdeen, culminating in an Engineering Science honours degree at Aberdeen University. In addition, he gained a Masters of Philosophy at Southampton University in 1989. Since then Iain has received Honorary Doctorates from Bath, Bristol, Aberdeen, Aston and Exeter Universities in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012 respectively.

He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Medal in 2007. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2011. Iain is a Board Member of Engineering UK, a Governor of the University of the West of England, a Board Member of SEMTA (the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies) and a Board Member of Energy Technologies Institute and on the Council of London City University. Iain was made a Fellow of Cardiff University. In the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in 2014 he was awarded a CBE for his contribution to innovation, science and technology




The Rev Dr. William Leitch (1814-1864)


 The first posthumously granted Award is given to Bute-born Dr. William Leitch a renaissance man with great success in many fields – astronomy, mathematics, divinity and academia. The award recognise an inspirational life; but most importantly for his ground-breaking contribution to space science.

 In a recently published paper, Canadian space historian Robert Godwin has proven that William Leitch, the fifth principal of Queen’s University in Kingston Canada, applied scientific principles to accurately describe in1861 that the rocket as the best device for space travel  -- more than three decades earlier than previously believed.

Reverend Leitch, who moved to Canada when he was appointed principal November 9, 1859 and joined Queen’s on Oct. 29, 1860, was a trained scientist and is the first person to correctly apply modern scientific principles to spaceflight in an essay he wrote in 1861 called A Journey Through Space. The essay was published in a journal in Edinburgh that year before being included in Leitch's 1862 book God's Glory in the Heavens.

Previous histories of spaceflight have maintained that the first scientific concept for rocket-powered space travel was envisioned at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by such men as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Hermann Oberth and Robert Goddard.

The Award has been proudly received by the current 20th Principal of Queens University Principal Woolf who wrote:


It will be a privilege for Queen’s to receive Principal Leitch’s award into its archives, where it will enable the community to learn more about his contributions to the foundations of our University, to science, and to education in general. Although he has no surviving family members that can be traced, Principal Leitch is still held in high esteem by his Queen’s family, who remain proud of their former leader