Felix Schmid, PhD, CEng, FIMechE, FIRSE, FPWI
Felix Schmid graduated from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, Switzerland, with a master’s degree in electrical and electronic engineering. He worked for two years as a software analyst in Zürich and Solothurn, in the days of microcomputers with 32kb of RAM and 32kb of EPROM space. He then moved to GEC Traction (later to form part of Alstom) in Manchester, England, where he spent four years designing control systems for electric locomotives, at a time when sep-ex choppers were at the forefront of technology. Subsequently, he completed a one-year spell at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), studying the non-galvanic measurement of electrical power. From UMIST he moved to the University of Salford to work as a mechanical design engineer on a knowledge transfer project with a machine tool manufacturer, where he later took a part-time role as the control systems designer.
From Salford, Felix transferred to Brunel University in West London to teach Computer Integrated Manufacturing, a new subject at the time. He developed a new approach to engineering education that resulted in him being awarded a doctorate in engineering. After a year in Switzerland as a railway inspector, where he looked after ‘private’ railways in the francophone part of the country, he returned to Britain, intending to resume his post at Brunel. Serendipity intervened and brought him to the University of Sheffield where he was tasked with developing the MSc programme in Railway Systems Engineering. He also conducted research into railway control systems and created railway short courses for London Underground, Britain’s Railway Inspectorate and Bechtel.
Felix was appointed to a professorship at the University of Birmingham in 2005, with the remit to move the railway MSc programme to a new home. The programme, now with the addition ‘and Integration’ grew rapidly in its new home and gained a worldwide reputation. This spawned the development of a Master of Research programme and of a new MSc in Railway Safety and Control Systems, in collaboration with the University of York and funded by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. At the University of Birmingham, Felix was based in the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), the largest railway focused research centre in the western world, where he was heavily involved in research into railway capacity and systems engineering.
Felix later led the postgraduate programme in Urban Railway Engineering for the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit Institute (SMRTi), from autumn 2016 to his retirement in June 2020. This programme had some 250 students in Singapore and Felix took a team of 15 academic staff from Birmingham to Singapore twice a year.
In February 2018, The University of Birmingham received a Queens Award for Higher and Further Education, an achievement of which Felix is very proud. In 2020-2021, Felix was the chair of the Railway Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Felix is still teaching at the University of Birmingham interested in railway technology and its history.