Stuart, James

Stuart, James
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b. 2 January 1843 Balgonie, Fife, Scotland
d. 12 October 1913 Norwich, Norfolk, England
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Scottish engineer and educator.
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James Stuart established the teaching of engineering as a university discipline at Cambridge. He was born at Balgonie in Fife, where his father managed a linen mill. He attended the University of St Andrews and then studied mathematics at Cambridge University. In 1867 he took up a post as Assistant Tutor at Trinity College, Cambridge, where his skills as a teacher were quickly recognized. The University was at that time adapting itself to the new systems of instruction recommended by the Royal Commission on university reform in the 1850s, and Stuart took an active part in the organization of a new structure of inter-collegiate lecture courses. He made an even more significant contribution to the establishment of extramural courses from which the Cambridge University extension lecture programme developed. This began in 1867, when Stuart took adult classes in Manchester and Crewe. The latter, in particular, brought him into close contact with those involved in practical mechanics and stimulated his interest in the applied sciences. In 1875 he was elected to the newly created Chair of Mechanism and Engineering in Cambridge, and he set out energetically to recruit students and to build up a flourishing unit with its own workshop and foundry, training a new generation of engineers in the applied sciences.
In November 1884 Stuart was elected to Parliament and embarked on an active but somewhat undistinguished career in politics as a radical Liberal, becoming amongst other things a keen supporter of the women's suffrage movement. This did not endear him to his academic colleagues, and the Engineering School suffered from neglect by Stuart until he resigned the Chair in 1890. By the time he left, however, the University was ready to recognize Engineering as a Tripos subject and to accept properly equipped teaching laboratories, so that his successor J.A. Ewing was able to benefit from Stuart's pioneering work. Stuart continued his political activities and was appointed a Privy Councillor in 1909. He married Elizabeth Colman after resigning the Chair, and on the death of his father-in-law in 1898 he moved to Norwich to take on the direction of the family mustard firm, J. \& J.Colman Ltd.
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Further Reading
Hilken, 1967, Engineering at Cambridge, Ch. 3, pp. 58–106.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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