This is the last of our profiles of Women in Engineering at LSBU, and we were honoured to have the opportunity to speak to Professor Agnes Kaposi, former Head of Department of Electrical Engineering. It was a fascinating conversation about her career and experiences of working at LSBU, then known as South Bank Polytechnic, and it forms the basis of this profile.Professor Kaposi’s first degree was from the prestigious Technical University of Budapest. When she came to the UK in 1957, she worked for eight years in research in the telephone and computer industry before completing her PhD, sponsored by Plessey Radar. At Kingston Polytechnic she established an innovative Masters degree in Computer Aided Design. She moved to the Polytechnic of the South Bank in the 1977-78 academic year as Head of Department for Electrical Engineering. Her responsibility to her MSc students at Kingston meant that initially, she would split her time between the two institutions, spending the mornings in Kingston and the afternoons at South Bank. One day a member of her new department joined her for lunch, introduced himself and assured her that it wasn’t anything personal, but that he didn’t believe in working women: the woman’s place is in the home. On arrival at South Bank, Professor Kaposi found that her predecessor had not been as involved in the work of the department as he could have been. Student numbers were low, teaching standards were inconsistent and members of staff were suspicious of new technologies, regarding computers as a passing fashion, “here today, gone tomorrow”. Administration by the local authority was heavy-handed and there was inadequate funding for new equipment, essential for developing new courses. To make progress, she had to find unconventional solutions, such as offering computing courses for local business in cooperation with the local Chamber of Commerce. Course fees allowed the department to buy computers which South Bank students were then able to use afterwards. There were momentous external issues to deal with. Engineering Council introduced nationwide course accreditation. This was an existential matter: courses failing to gain accreditation were not expected to survive. The policy of the Institute of Electrical Engineers (now the Institute of Engineering and Technology [IET]) was only to consider full-time courses, ruling out part-time courses altogether. South Bank’s part-time degree course had dedicated, well-performing mature students, benefiting from their industrial experience. With the support of her staff, Professor Kaposi championed the cause of the part-time degree, demonstrating its quality. Ultimately the campaign was successful and led to Professor Kaposi becoming a member of the Accreditation Committee herself. For some years, South Bank ran the only accredited part-time degree course in the country. Radical curriculum review brought in innovative computer-oriented courses. The popularity of the department grew. Three new courses were sponsored by the Manpower Services Commission, with further support from industry: an MSc in Information Systems Engineering and two Higher National Certificate courses for unemployed graduates, one of them especially for women. Industrial sponsorship increased, and research and consultancy work created a research school of PhD and MPhil students. As student numbers increased and the department developed in a new direction, up-to-date expertise had to be brought in. Existing staff also needed to learn new skills. Trying to bring everyone onside, when a young staff with a PhD in computer science joined the department, Professor Kaposi suggested that a more senior colleague sat in on his lectures to advise him about teaching methods. The benefit was mutual: the new member of staff had a mentor and the senior colleague learnt computing. There was worldwide shortage in industry and universities of engineers with advanced computing skills. Professor Kaposi had to find staff with the relevant skills, sometimes from unusual backgrounds. For example, a graduate in Philosophy taught logic, a physicist taught semiconductor technology and a former professor of zoology taught instrumentation and radar technology, having studied the landing skills of flies. These backgrounds were unorthodox for engineering, but this approach ensured high quality teaching. To teach discrete mathematics in support of new computing-oriented subjects, the department had to acquire its own mathematicians. Industrial experts and researchers were also brought in as part-time staff, enhancing the quality of education and supporting staff development. Several of the new staff were women, many of whom said they had come to work for South Bank because a woman was head of department and they felt they would have a fair chance there. Professor Kaposi says that she hired them not because they were women but because they were the best. By the time Professor Kaposi decided to leave South Bank, after ten years running the department, there were more than 1000 students of whom 200 were postgraduates. The research school ran projects funded by industry and the European Commission, with candidates studying for MPhil and PhD qualifications. The department had 50 full-time and over 100 part-time staff, 50 technicians and four secretaries. It may well have been the largest engineering department of the country, with possibly the largest graduate school of engineering. This profile only covers some of the work Professor Kaposi did in her time at South Bank – there is much more that we could have written up. She has published many papers and has written several books on her research and consultancy work. She also wrote a book about her early life in Hungary, more details of which are available here: http://agneskaposi.com and which we recommend reading for an insight into some of the challenges she has faced. (A copy is available in the Library in LSBU) One former member of staff that we’ve also had the opportunity to speak to over the course of this project told us that Professor Kaposi was the reason that she applied to LSBU, and that she was inspirational. This profile is only a brief summary of some of the conversation we had, and we hope that everyone reading it has also found it as fascinating and inspirational as we did!