Dr. Bruce Davenport by gegeshandong


									                               Dr. Bruce Davenport

                                         Freelance Editor,

                                         School of Engineering Sciences

Changing track. A scientist samples two careers

Dr Bruce Davenport has enjoyed two very different careers since
graduating from the University of Southampton. He changed direction
after many years in scientific research and now uses his skills in
communication and the analysis of data in museums and galleries.

An early interest in the Apollo space mission inspired Bruce to think
about life in the clouds. “I wanted to be a space man, so reckoned I
should become a pilot with the RAF. But I decided I didn’t like the
prospect of a military life after all, so went to university instead,” he
explains. Bruce chose to take a degree in Aeronautical Engineering at
Manchester, then thought he wanted to carry on learning with a PhD. “I
looked at what kind of opportunities were about and opted for
Southampton. I didn’t know the city at all, it was a leap into the unknown
but a good decision.”

Bruce worked under supervisor Professor Peter Gregson on new laminates
made of aluminium-lithium and fibre-reinforced plastic that engineers
hoped would turn out to be a promising new material for aircraft skins; a
similar version of the technology, developed in the Netherlands, is now
used by Airbus.

Studying for a PhD was a challenge as he got married to Carol in
Manchester just after embarking on his studies. “It was a long distance
marriage to start with but I enjoyed my studies and there was time to play
sport and get involved with the film club,” he says. Post doctoral work in
Sheffield followed and Bruce began to work on a mechanical engineering
challenge, how steel deforms at high temperatures. The Davenports then
moved overseas so he could take up a similar research job in Delft in The
Netherlands which lasted for four years.
The turning point in Bruce’s career came when he went on a management
training course with colleagues from Corus. “For the first time, I was
involved in an activity that wasn’t directly linked with science. I decided I
wanted to do something else. It was definitely time for change, although I
wasn’t sure at that time exactly what I wanted to do.”

Bruce then enrolled on a master’s degree in Museum Studies in
Newcastle. “It wasn’t that much of a culture shock, for years I had been
interested in the arts and humanities, I had read a wide range of these
books ever since my first degree,” he explains. Bruce started his new
career in two art galleries in the North East. “I then went on to teach on a
museum studies course for a while and now work as a freelance museum
educator and researcher for several organisations. One encourages
creative learning in schools, another researches how visiting museums
helps the health of older people.

“I’ve enjoyed both my careers and look forward to new challenges in the

Written by:
Karen Woods
Communications Consultant
University of Southampton

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