Professor (em.) Pat McKeown OBE FREng

Professor (em.) Pat McKeown OBE FREng was made a patron of Humanists UK for his contribution to the greater public understanding of science.

Pioneer of modern high precision engineering

After initial training in the aircraft industry Professor McKeown joined the world leading Swiss high precision machine tool company of the time, GSIP, where he specialised in the comprehensive geometric and thermal error analyses and calibration of high precision machines. This led to rules for the design of high precision machines and eventually to 3D error-mapping and software error compensation, in universal use today.

After 13 years in industry, he returned to Cranfield in 1968 to establish the Cranfield Unit for Precision Engineering, a MinTech industrial unit which went on to design, construct, commission and supply a wide range of ultra-precision machine tools and metrology equipment, world-wide. These included single point diamond turning machines capable of nano-metre accuracy, grinding machines for large telescope mirrors, camshafts, crankshafts and complex geometry gears and several specialist metrology instruments.

Professor McKeown has led professional development short courses in the UK, USA, China, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. He has also been visiting professor at the University of California, the University of Wisconsin, and Nanjing University of Aeronautics, China.

He was the founding president of the highly successful European Society for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology, euspen in 1999, has received lifetime achievement awards from the precision engineering societies of America, Japan and Europe and was awarded the Georg-Schlesinger Preis from the State of Berlin in 2007 for his work in production engineering in general and high precision engineering in particular.

On Humanism, Professor McKeown has said, 'Humanism is a stance on life based on the idea and conviction that people can be good and will do good without a belief in God or gods... I re-assert that all religions are man-made and so, I am a humanist, "a free-thinker". I wonder at the magnificence of the "real world" but no, I cannot relate this to God or any other divine being.'

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More details on Professor McKeown's professional background and his humanism at