A professor from Queen’s University Belfast, who invented a high-speed silicon security chip that is used in more than 100 million TV set-top boxes, has received the coveted Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for 2014. She is a member of the FIRE's Advisory Board.
Professor Máire O’Neill, from Glenties, Co. Donegal, is one of only five engineers who have received the medal in national recognition for their contribution to society.
The former British Female Inventor of the Year is one of Europe’s leading experts on digital security, and is currently Professor of Information Security at Queen’s Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT).
A Queen’s graduate, she is one of Europe’s leading cryptography experts, helping enhance global data security.
Her research involves designing security solutions for communications applications, including email, cloud and mobile technologies. Contributing to the future vision for digital security in Europe, Professor O’Neill was invited by the European Commission to become a member of the Young Advisors Group, which is shaping the future by lending expertise on how to achieve Europe’s Digital Agenda.
Speaking about her Silver Medal award, Professor O’Neill said: “It is an honour to receive this recognition from the Royal Academy of Engineering. Cyber security presents huge challenges for the future. The development of resilient, secure information systems is crucial for everyone - from how we carry out our daily work, to the delivery of public services, to issues of national and international security. It is a hugely exciting and important field in which to work, and I am delighted that my research has been recognised for its impact on wider society.”
Professor O’Neill was the youngest ever professor to be appointed at Queen’s at the age of 32 and was also the University’s first female professor in electrical and electronic engineering. She was instrumental in the creation of CSIT at Queen’s which has established strong links with global security organisations.
Congratulating Professor O’Neill, Queen’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston, said: “This well-deserved recognition of Professor O’Neill’s work serves to illustrate how the research ongoing at Queen’s is often translated into products and systems which have a significant impact on the lives of many people both locally and globally. As a Queen’s graduate, Máire is an excellent role model for any young or aspiring engineer and on behalf of the University, I would like to congratulate her on receiving this prestigious award.”
Alongside her cutting-edge research, Professor O’Neill co-ordinates Queen’s newly-launched Masters in Cyber Security. With its first intake of students in September, Queen’s has created this course to cater for the needs of the IT industry in Northern Ireland and beyond, where demand for highly-skilled cyber security professionals is increasing.
Dervilla Mitchell FREng, Chair of the Academy’s Awards Committee, said, “The Silver Medals recognise individual excellence, not only technically, but also in the ability to turn knowledge and ideas into useful, wealth-creating products and services. This is essential to UK economic prosperity, and this year’s winners are all excellent examples of the kind of world-class entrepreneurs that the Academy is championing through its Engineering for Growth campaign and supporting through its Enterprise Hub.
“The UK boasts world-leading expertise in digital security, computer programming, aerospace, and manufacturing, and our 2014 medallists demonstrate the strength of knowledge and skill in these areas that will enable us to maintain this position for years to come. They are outstanding role models for the next generation.”
Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medallists were selected from a long list of nominations, drawn from all areas of contemporary engineering. They were chosen by a panel of Academy Fellows who have expertise across the range of engineering disciplines, as well as personal entrepreneurial experience.
For more information on the Royal Academy of Engineering visit www.raeng.org.uk