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Fellows Directory

John Horlock

John Horlock

Sir John Horlock FREng FRS


Elected: 1976


John Horlock was a mechanical engineer and a leading figure in the field of turbomachinery — machinery that transfers energy between a rotor and a fluid, such as air or liquid. These systems can experience complex, chaotic and potentially catastrophic fluid flows. John developed methods to address these issues when designing machines such as gas turbines, compressors and jet engines.

John founded the Whittle Laboratory at Cambridge in 1973. In 1981, John was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the Open University (OU). Under his leadership a taught master’s programme was introduced, the Open Business School was established and activities were expanded into Europe.

The Horlock building on the OU’s Walton Hall campus is named in John’s honour. John had long been an advocate for continuing education, particularly in science and technology. This was recognised by the Association of Open University Graduates, who established the Sir John Horlock Award for Science. John was knighted for services to science, engineering and education in 1996.

Sir John Horlock FREn FRS died on 22 May 2015.

Biographical Memoir

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Engineering
    • Engineering, mechanical, Engineering, aeronautical, Fluid dynamics
  • Other
    • Science policy
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