Jon Hilton has become the 131st president of the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), succeeding Professor Richard Folkson. Hilton joined the institution as a young member in 1982 when he started his engineering career with Rolls-Royce military engines group in an undergraduate training scheme.
His passion for engines led him to Formula One and in 1991 he moved to Cosworth, where he rose up the ranks from engine designer to chief engineer of the F1 program by the end of 1997. In 1998 Hilton moved to the TWR Arrows team as chief engineer of the F1 Engines group. In early 2003 he moved, along with the whole of his F1 engines team, to Renault F1 where he formed the UK-based engine division for the team. As technical director of the Engine Division, he was involved with a very successful period for the team, winning both driver’s and constructor’s Formula One World Championships in 2005 and 2006.
In January 2007 Jon, along with former Renault F1 colleague Doug Cross, formed Flybrid Automotive, an engineering company that develops high-speed flywheel based hybrid systems for automobile applications. The company was acquired by Torotrak in January 2014, and Hilton now has a non-executive role as deputy chairman of the parent company.
Hilton said of his appointment: “I am delighted to be taking on this role and in my year as president I want to concentrate on developing professional engineers, as well as encouraging those who have already chosen engineering as a career to make the most of their choice. Mentoring is something I am passionate about and am keen to promote during the coming year. I believe there is much to learn from the experience of our colleagues, not only at the start of our careers, but all the way through to retirement.
“I also want to highlight the role of entrepreneurs and how well-placed professional engineers are to be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Engineers are essentially problem-solvers and problem-solving is at the heart of smart business.”