About us

Welcome to the Herts Section home page. We hope you will find here the information you need about our section, our program of events and our officers and committee. Our meetings are open both to members of the Institute and visitors, we invite you to come and share with us.

Our usual meeting venue is here.

Here you will find information about:

  • The region we cover and our membership
  • Activities of the Engineering, Maths, Science and Technology Association (EMSTA)
  • Companion Companies in our region
  • Other engineering institutions in our region
  • Herts Area Instrument Engineers social activities


Region Covered and Membership

The Hertfordshire Section of the Institute of Measurement and Control covers a large geographical area, 
comprising most of East Anglia and the Northern Home Counties. We have members with addresses ranging 
from the Coast of Suffolk to as far West as Reading, and from Slough as far North as Peterborough. Our area 
now also includes some of the region previously served by the Essex & North Kent Section.

The region covered by the Hertfordshire Section comprises the postal areas with the following postcodes


AL            (St. Albans) MK           (Milton Keynes)
CB            (Cambridge) NN            (Northampton)
CM           (Chelmsford) NR            (Norwich)
CO            (Colchester) PE            (Peterborough)
DA             (Dartford) RG            (Reading)
EN            (Enfield) RM             (Romford)
HA            (Harrow) SG            (Stevenage)
HP            (Hemel Hempstead) SL            (Slough)
IP            (Ipswich) SS            (Southend)
LU            (Luton) WD           (Watford)

The present membership of the Section (at September 2017) is 184

*Please NOTE: EEESTA is now known as EMSTA.

Activities of Engineering, Maths, Science and Technology Association (EMSTA) 

The Hertfordshire Section is an active member of EMSTA. This organisation committed to developing joint 
activities between the various Professional Engineering, Science and Technology institutions in East of England 
region. It seeks to influence regional policies in line with the needs of science, engineering and technology. 
More information on
EMSTA activities can be found on the EMSTA web site. 
For further information on the Engineering profession please visit the Engineering Council web site.

Companion Companies in our Region 

Companion Company status allows manufacturing and end-user organisations to gain direct access to a 
broad range of InstMC facilities and the opportunity to play a more active role in the Institute's affairs. 

There are currently 5 Companion Companies within the region covered by the Hertfordshire Section: 


Milton Keynes, MK8 0AJ
Hitchin, SG5 2DA
Newmarket CB8 7TG
St Albans, AL3 5RR
Woodbridge, IP12 1NF
Bedford, MK41 7PH
Newmarket, CB8 7FN


Other Engineering Institutions in our Region 

A number of other professional engineering institutions and similar bodies are active and hold meetings 
within or adjacent to the area covered by the Hertfordshire Section.

Herts Area Instrument Engineers Social Activities

Social activities and events are arranged periodically for the benefit of Institute members and their guests within 
the region covered by the Hertfordshire Section. These events are organised and funded locally and do not form 
any part of the activities of the Institute of Measurement and Control.


Links to details of our programme of meetings for the 2019-2020 season will given below as they become available.

If you need any additional information please contact Tom Purcell by email or 07306 757000.

Technical meetings normally take place at Eaton Electric Limited (MTL) in Luton on the last Wednesday evening of the month, commencing at 6:45 for 7:00 p.m. Where the date, time or venue of an event is different from this, details will be provided in the details of that event.

This is a link to the page where you will find a map and directions to Eaton Electric Limited (MTL).

Members and visitors are welcome at all meetings

At each technical meeting at MTL light refreshments are available 15 minutes before the start of the meeting and the evening normally concludes with a buffet supper and informal discussion. A donation of £2 per person to help towards the cost of the buffet is required.



For information about our donations to schools and colleges in support of STEM up to December 2012, please see the section "Educational Activities".


Donation to MNDA sml

Following the talk in October by Richard Cave about Voice Banking and Augmented and Alternative Communication, the section made a donation to the Milton Keynes branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The above photograph shows Richard Gleave from our section handing over the cheque to Fran Gurd of the MNDA, with Trish Abey in the centre of the photo.

A link to Trish's website is here.


David Myers RIP

David Myers was the Secretary of the Hertfordshire Section of the Institute of Measurement and Control for many years and a stalwart of the Section. 

He has been unwell for about 18 months, and unfortunately died on 29th September 2016. His thanksgiving service was held at St Mary the Virgin, Clophill on 24th October. There were barely any empty seats, which shows how much he was appreciated by everyone who knew him.

If you wish to donate in his memory, his family have set up three sites at Memory Giving:-





Chris Towle awarded Honorary Fellowship of the InstMC


 The Institute of Measurement and Control held the 2011 Annual Lecture & Learned Awards Evening at the Royal Society in London on 27th October.

 At that event our immediate past Chairman, Chris Towle, was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Institute for his international contribution to measurement and control, most particularly in the fields of explosion protection and earthing practice, and for his many years of dedication and service to the Institute.

 Congratulations to Chris from all in the Hertfordshire Section. 


Technical Meetings now held at the new premises of MTL Instruments 

MTL Instruments (now part of Cooper Crouse-Hinds) was situated in Power Court in the centre of Luton since 1975. For most of the years since then MTL has the main base for meetings of The Hertfordshire Section. The Power Court area of central Luton is now scheduled for residential and retail redevelopment, and during April 2009 MTL moved to new, purpose-built premises on the Butterfield Business and Technology Park development in the Stopsley area of Luton (adjacent to the main A505 road linking Luton and Hitchin).

MTL continues to host our monthly meetings at the new site at Butterfield. The Hertfordshire Section of the InstMC would like to acknowledge its thanks to MTL for the generous support it has given over many years, and its ongoing support at the new premises.



YGEN Network want you ...

The InstMC recognises that its future rests with its younger members. If you are younger than 35 then it wants you to take a greater part in expressing the professional aspirations of your generation and helping guide the Institute to meet them. You can become part of the newly formed Younger Generation (YGEN) Network to help make this happen, by influencing more the way the Institute tackles the challenges facing measurement and control in a rapidly changing world.

You can read more about YGEN here, and express you interest in being part of it here.

If you're a more experienced professional over 35 you can help too - by bringing this Institute initiative to the attention of your younger colleagues or friends and encouraging them to respond and become actively part of it.

Play your part in helping to make the Institute ready for the world of today and tomorrow

Educational activities

The money we donate towards the cost of these events comes from our Social Fund balance. This consists of the proceeds of various social events such as our Annual Summer Garden Party and the Annual London - Hertfordshire Golf Challenge Day. We are grateful for the continuing generosity of the London Section in donating their share of the profits from the Golf Challenge Day to us for use in this way.


February 2017
The Hertfordshire Section of the Institute of Measurement and Control has agreed to award an annual prize of £500 for the next three academic years to the undergraduate student in the School of Engineering and Technology who is considered to have made the most outstanding and innovative contribution to the field of measurement or information technology or system design in engineering.

The prize will be awarded to the undergraduate student whose individual project is considered to demonstrate such a contribution. Individual project supervisors will be invited to nominate one or more of their undergraduate students for the prize with an explanation of how they feel they meet the criteria. The School Prize Committee will then select a winner, on merit by considering the nominations and taking into account the marks awarded for each nominated project. The school Prize Committee may share the prize between two or more students at its absolute discretion.

The photo below shows Dr Rodney Day (Dean of School of Engineering and technology), Dr Alan Lewis (Head of Division Aeronautics and Space) and Mr Bob Walford (Vice Chairman, Hertfordshire Section of InstMC) during the ceremony when the final agreement was signed. Thanks to Mr. Ray Wilkinson (Associate Dean, Academic Quality Assurance) for taking the photograph.


11th October 2015 - Success at Greenpower International Finals
for St Thomas More School, Bedford.

The two cars had qualified at the Rockingham Raceway heat in July, and achieved starting positions of 47th(STM002) and 48th(STM005) in the International Finals at Rockingham, which were their best ever places.
The International Finals consisted of two races of 90 minutes each, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. 
75 teams took part in the morning, after which some teams dropped out so that 67 teams took part in the afternoon. There were two teams from the USA, and several from Europe, as well as many from across the UK, from Cornwall to the north of Scotland. 
STM005 had some technical issues during both races, and achieved 68th position after the first race, improving to 57th position after the second.
However, STM002 did very well indeed, being in 43rd position after the first race, and 36th position after the second.

As a spectator, I very much enjoyed the day, and would recommend it to anyone. The facilities at Rockingham Raceway were excellent. The Grandstand and Pits were easily accessible, there were plenty of places to sit or stand with good views of the races. Free WiFi allowed access to a website which gave live positions of all the cars. Several electric vehicles were on display, and there were exhibits from Universities. The Raceway was easy to find, and there was plenty of well-organised parking.


Panoramic View of Rockinghan Raceway


Part of the parade of cars, showing St Thomas More vehicles

The morning race 


Note the InstMC Herts logos on both car noses.

Electric Vehicles on display


Electric Land Rover Defender

Storm Pulse Electric Motorbike

Voltz Electric Scooter & Trailer


Preparing for the afternoon


The afternoon race


The winners!


Past events

25th of April 2018

“Cloudy with a chance of moths and bees”

Studies of insect movement ecology: the how and why

by Dr. Jason Lim

Insects are one of the most important groups of animal in the development of human cultures and civilization. The abundance of insect pests in our crops determines the quality and quantity of our harvest, while insect pollinators determine the variety of food in our diet. Beautiful insects such as butterflies, ladybirds and dragonflies have inspired scientific endeavour and literature for generations and they continue to do so. It is generally agreed that insect pests consume or destroy 10% of GDP in industrialized nations and 25% in developing countries.  On the other hand, the global economic value of insect pollination and ecosystem services was estimated to be US$215 billion or 9.5% of global food production. The need to understand the movement of both migratory insect pests and pollinators is more important than ever if the current agricultural food production is going to feed a human population of 10 billion by 2050. In this seminar I will showcase the world’s leading insect monitoring and tracking technologies developed by the Rothamsted Radar Entomology Unit.  The seminar will conclude with the current and future research directions of this unit and an invitation to participate in the rapidly growing science of Aero-Ecology.
28th of March 2018

Charles Dawson: Piltdown and his other hoaxes

by Andy McGrandle

Abstract: This is the story of a man so desperate for academic recognition that he routinely faked his archaeological finds in order to supply the “crucial” artefact to the academic world.  Piltdown Man in 1912 was his most famous hoax, but recent work has brought to light 31 other fake artefacts that he presented to learned societies and museums during his lifetime and there are probably more out there.  The academic hierarchy protected and supported him even though not everyone at the time was convinced by Dawson’s finds.  Many of Dawson’s hoaxes could only be accurately exposed using modern archaeological and analysis techniques  and  the misinformation created by of some of his hoaxes survived in school text books until the early 1970’s.  Charles Dawson never lived to see his hoaxes exposed or the damage he did to the credibility of academia in his own and later decades -  he really is a warning from history.


28th February 2018

Joint meeting with the Institute of Physics
at University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield

Ripples from the Dark Side of the Universe
by Jim Hough

Gravitational waves – a prediction of Einstein’s General Relativity – are still among the most elusive signals from far out in the Universe. Over the past decade the laser interferometric detectors LIGO (at Hanford and Livingston in the USA), Virgo (at Cascina in Italy) and GEO 600 (at Ruthe in Germany) have been commissioned and operated at their design or close to design sensitivity. However in keeping with source strength predictions, and as expected, no gravitational wave signals were observed.

Now these detectors have been upgraded, observations with the Advanced LIGO detectors have begun again and have already made detections of signals from black hole binary systems. This is particularly exciting as the existence of the black hole system first observed was a surprise to the astronomy community!  The Virgo detector in Italy has recently joined the observations. In this talk I will explain the nature of gravitational waves, why it is scientifically important to observe them, potential new results and the highlights of the technology.

Prof Jim Hough is a research Professor at the University of Glasgow and Kelvin Professor of Natural Philosophy Emeritus. He has researched in the gravitational wave field at the University of Glasgow since 1971, is the UK Principal Investigator for the German/UK GEO600 detector and a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.


31st January 2018

Bletchley Park Museums
by Nick Hill

Nick’s talk was not intended as a potted tour of the two museums on the Bletchley Park site: Bletchley Park Trust (BPT) and The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC).

Instead, Nick showed and described what you might see when you make your visit(s).

In BPT you will discover the story of the breaking of Enigma, which gave Germany and its allies the equivalent capability of today’s battlefield tweets.  Enigma was used for the encryption of short messages at all levels, except the highest, of the German ‘war machine’.

At TNMOC you will discover the story of the breaking of the Lorenz encryption machine.  Lorenz was more sophisticated than Enigma – 183 million, million, million possible settings, as opposed to Enigma’s 156 million, million – and was unknown to the Allies at the start of the war.  It was used by Hitler and all the members of the German High Command to encrypt messages relating to their strategic plans, battle plans etc.  The breaking of Lorenz from the interception of just two messages is ranked as one of the most astonishing intellectual achievements of the 20th century.


29th November 2017

Space Rider
by Alex Godfrey of Lockheed Martin

Engineers at Lockheed Martin’s site in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, will develop two key parts for the Space Rider, which is a reusable space plane being developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The small, unmanned craft will be launched from a rocket and will be able to gather scientific data, carry out exploration missions as it orbits the earth, and deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station. Crucially, Space Rider will be capable of surviving re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, making it reusable and an affordable way to bring important findings back from space.

Lockheed Martin will develop the actuator system, which operates flaps to steady the flight during re-entry; and the landing system to bring the spacecraft safely back to earth.

Alex Godfrey, the technical lead on the project for Lockheed Martin UK explains: “Space Rider will re-enter our atmosphere at 7.5km a second. Making sure it lands back on earth safely is a major part of the project. We’re looking at two solutions, pulling in expertise and capabilities from across Lockheed Martin Corporation."

“The first is a mid-air retrieval system, or MAR, which will mean the spacecraft is slowed down by a parafoil and then captured in the sky by a helicopter; the second is more traditional wheeled or skidded landing gear, with it coming to rest on a runway."


Friday 22nd September 2017

London and Hertfordshire Sections

16th Annual Golf Challenge
 at Redbourne Golf Club.

The 16th Anniversary saw us return to Redbourn Golf Club, the venue of many previous events. It was a very successful day, and raises a very useful sum for our educational activities.


25th October 2017
Airlander 10 - A talk by Andy Barton of Hybrid Air Vehicles

Andy gave a very interesting talk about the development to date of Airlander 10, and the development of future aircraft. The Airlander 10 is the world’s largest aircraft, designed and developed by Hybrid Air Vehicles. It is currently undergoing flight trials at Cardington near Bedford. Airlander 10 is underpinned by the company’s numerous patents vested worldwide. From the latest materials technology, to the aerodynamic effects of its shape, it is full of innovation. There is no internal structure in the Airlander – it maintains its shape due to the pressure stabilisation of the helium inside the hull, and the smart and strong Vectran material from which it is made. Carbon composites are used throughout the aircraft for strength and weight savings. Airlander is designed to fly continuously for up to 5 days when manned, or longer if unmanned. It can fly up to 20,000 feet, and has a maximum cruising speed of 80 knots (92mph).
27th September 2017

Sands of Time - Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway
by Nick Hill

Nick explained how the railway came to be built as a consequence of Belgium’s neutrality at the start of World War I.  From 1919 until the mid-60s the railway was used to move sand to both the mainline railway and the Grand Union canal in Leighton Buzzard.  50 years ago a group of enthusiasts were granted permission to run trains at the weekends.  Nowadays the railway is devoted to preserving the history of industrial, narrow gauge railways and the entire railway is a museum.  On 2nd June 2017 it was announced that that the railway has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  Nick’s talk was illustrated with many slides covering the history of the railway over the last fifty years.

Nick has been a volunteer at the railway for 11 years, working initially in the Steam Department and then transferring to the Carriage Department. 
From his work in these departments Nick has become a qualified Guard and Diesel Shunting Driver.  For over seven years, until June 2017, Nick was a member of the Executive Committee, so was involved in the management of the railway.  For some years Nick has also been the Head of the Membership Team.


26th April 2017

LIDAR - The new illuminating the past
by Andy McGrandle

This presentation was preceded by a short AGM.

The UK topography which has traditionally been defined by teams of Ordnance Survey surveyors is now defined in great detail by a countrywide program of LIDAR laser scanning. This talk showed how this new data is acquired and what it can show us with reference to a small village in north Buckinghamshire where this modern high-resolution data is being used to illuminate long forgotten features seen on maps of the area from the late 1700’s. The LIDAR data has been commercially available for several years and was very expensive, but since December 2015 it has been on open release for anyone to download.

Andy McGrandle has worked in the oil industry since 1977 after graduating from London University with a degree in Geology. After working with US and UK based potential field geophysics companies, along with Kitty hall and Richard Gleave, he founded ARK Geophysics Ltd in 1986, which specialised in conventional potential field geophysics. In 2004 the same team founded ARKeX Ltd which focussed on airborne gravity gradiometer surveying. In 2007 he sold his shares in ARK Geophysics and two years later in 2009 he retired. 3 months of boredom ensued followed by the creation of Big Anomaly Ltd. Since 2009 he has worked on numerous interpretation projects around the world that have kept his brain ticking over and warded off the need for a bus pass. He has never been happier.


29th March 2017

The Enigma Line - Past, Present and Future of the Marston Vale Line
by Stephen Sleight,
Transport Team Leader, Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership Officer, Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity

This talk was very well attended, as many people were interested in this historic route, which is due to play a strong part in the future of the railways. During this talk, Stephen told us about the Marston Vale Line, which currently connects Bletchley in Milton Keynes with Bedford.

The talk included details of the history of the line, its exciting future with East West Rail, the work of the Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership, and the Ridgemont Station Heritage Centre.


22nd February 2017

Will the coming Tech Revolution be a force for good?
by Stephen Pattison of ARM

This was our annual joint meeting with the Institute of Physics, and took place at the University of Hertfordshire, in the Lindop Building, College Lane Campus, Hatfield, AL10 9AB.
The presentation started at 7:00 pm, with free coffee and biscuits beforehand.

A new age of technology is fast approaching. But there are many concerns: will cyber criminals ransack our bank account? Will robots take our jobs? Or take over the world? Will data scientists predict our every wish? Will hostile intelligence agencies undermine our politics and flood us with fake news?  

Stephen Pattison kept us enthralled with an engaging talk using only one slide! He considered these issues in the context both of what cutting edge technology can do to help mitigate some of the risks, and what will require a wider policy debate about the ethics of some of the possibilities the technology will create. His starting point was that the new technology can deliver huge benefits for us: but for those benefits to be realised we need to have confidence in it. If the Internet of Things doesn’t empower people, it will fail.  

Stephen Pattison is VP Public Affairs at ARM, a global leader in microprocessor technology.  His role is to demonstrate ARM’s thought leadership to a wide audience including governments and policy makers. He has wide experience in both the public and private sectors.


25th January 2017

Industry 4.0 - The hype removed to reveal the opportunity
by Graeme Philp, Chief Executive of GAMBICA.

This meeting was held at the ABB site in Howard Road, Eaton Socon, St Neots, PE19 8EU. We were made very welcome, and ABB provided a fine spread of food, so we look forward to holding meetings at this site in future years.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Industry 4.0. This is a shame because there is real substance behind the concept of harnessing the ubiquitous connectivity, offered by the Internet of things to streamline the entire supply chain of the manufacturing industry.  Dr Philp will link Industry 4.0 with the business plan imperatives of servitisation & the circular economy and will peel away the hype to reveal some solid opportunities both for the UK as a future manufacturing economy and for the instrumentation and automation industries.