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British Industrial History

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Diarmuid Downs

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Sir Diarmuid Downs (1922-2014), chairman of Ricardo and Co was a British automotive engineer.

1922 April 23rd. Born in London where his father ran a small engineering business manufacturing equipment for the oil industry.

Educated at Gunnersbury Catholic Grammar School and the Regent Street Polytechnic, London.

Studied at Northampton Engineering College, London, where he graduated with First Class honours in 1942. He won a postgraduate bursary for further research and study, which he took up with Ricardo and Co.

For his first 15 years with Ricardo and Co., first as student, then as a member of staff, and from 1947 as Head of the Petrol Engine Department, Downs pursued a study of fundamental study of abnormal combustion phenomena in the petrol engine, resulting in a clearer understanding of the problems of knock and pre-ignition.

1957 Made a Director of Ricardo. Became Managing Director ten years later, remaining in this position until 1984.

1976-87. Chairman of the company from 1976 to 1987.

Downs served as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1978 and as President of FISITA, the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies, from 1978 to 1980. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1985. He was elected a Fellow for the Royal Academy of Engineering

1014 February 12th. Died

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