James Dyson donates £8m to University of Cambridge to fund new engineering facilities complete with a house that can almost think for itself

Caitlin Morrison
Follow Caitlin
James Dyson outside the new engineering facility bearing his name in Cambridge

British entrepreneur James Dyson has today opened a range of new engineering facilities at the University of Cambridge, including a slightly scary-sounding new smart building that’s more like a “living creature”, according to Dyson’s statement.

The new facilities were funded with an £8m donation from Dyson's eponymous foundation.

The cash injection is the largest gift ever received by the university’s engineering department, and was used to fund the Dyson Centre for Engineering Design, which provides space for over 1,200 engineers to conduct project work. Projects housed within the centre include solar powered electric racing cars, vehicles engineered for arctic ice, quad-rotor drones and helium balloon spaceflight systems.

The donation was also used to create the new James Dyson Building for Engineering - a four storey building for postgraduate researchers which is “as smart as the minds it houses”, according to Dyson. The structure boasts a number of smart features, including fibre-optic sensors in the foundation piles offering live data about everything from temperature to strain – “providing a picture of how the building is behaving”.

“The result is a building that’s more of a living creature than a passive block of material,” the company said.

“Developing the intellectual property that will help Britain succeed in the global technology race depends on applying our brightest minds to ambitious and exciting research projects,” said James Dyson. “I’m hopeful that this new space for Britain’s best engineers at the University of Cambridge will catalyse great technological breakthroughs that transform how we live.”

Related articles