Prof. Richard Folkson

President - Institute of Mechanical Engineers


Having joined as a student member, Richard Folkson has played a committed and active role in the Institution for around 40 years. He served as Chairman of the Automobile Division from 2008-09, Eastern Region Chairman from 2010-12 and has been Chief Judge for the Formula Student competition since 2010.

He worked in product development at Ford Motor Company for 30 years on all aspects of car and truck design, rising to the position of Chief Engineer.

His career at Ford included roles as the Project Manager for the original Ford Focus and the last two Ford Transit van programmes. Then he was responsible for all product verification and test facilities in Europe, followed by appointment as Chief Engineer for global technical standards and alignment across all Ford owned brands including Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo and Mazda.

He was Chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Engineering Committee during his time at Ford with regular interface with Government Departments at a senior level.

After taking early retirement in 2006 he has pursued his personal interests in education: he has taught Automotive Design at Loughborough University and serves as a Visiting Professor in Innovation and Design at the University of Hertfordshire. He is also an assessor for Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) on technology projects and works as a consultant advising on how future vehicle designs can reduce usage of fossil fuels.

He initiated the organisation of the Institution’s Sustainable Vehicle Technology Conference and has organised seminar events on lightweighting for low carbon and electric vehicles.