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Broader and deeper

Adrian Coy

Widening membership and knowledge.

Over the past three years, we have been discussing the broadening of ICE’s membership at Council; a debate that is particularly pertinent in the context of our 2025 vision - to be an organisation that operates globally, is recognised across a wide spectrum of activity in the built environment and is the “go to” organisation for tackling global challenges.

But what does “broadening our membership” really mean?

It has become clear to me through our discussions at Council that this issue is actually about broadening our knowledge. It is about the ICE’s place in the world - our relevance.

This is not a departure - as a learned society, fostering knowledge for the greater good is at our core. But if we are to remain relevant to a changing society, our members, governments and employers all over the world, we must find ways to further expand our knowledge base so it is even richer, and more rounded.

The ICE began nearly 200 years ago following a conversation in a coffee shop between three young, spirited engineers who wanted to share ideas and knowledge. Now, looking to the 21st Century and beyond, we must consider who else needs to be part of our conversations.

Civil engineers work with a diverse range of allied professionals to deliver projects, and while the ICE is broad in its range of interests, we do not fully represent these professional teams.

They -and the knowledge and experience they possess - are not part of our great Institution.

By embracing professionals in these fields, we can enrich our community and knowledge, while at the same time use our more relevant knowledge offer to strengthen our position as the qualifying body for civil engineers. It is, and should be, a virtuous circle. It is an opportunity we must grasp.

After a period of considered debate at Council, we are now moving forwards.

Firstly, while broadening is not about grades, our current grades are a barrier and need to be “unlocked” without undermining standards.

Research supports the need for a more “knowledge based” membership grade for allied professionals and international members, and we believe adapting the Associate Member grade, so it is more accessible, will achieve this.

Currently AMICE is attracting very few allied professionals, similarly only 2% of our working members are Affiliate Members.

Council agreed to this approach last week, and we will now work through the detail carefully. This is just an “enabler”, however - the real challenge is how to make broadening our knowledge a reality in a way that adds value to our core members.

The ICE’s plan for 2016-2018 will take us on that journey, and Council will continue to provide the leadership needed to see our Institution secure its mantle as the “go to” Institution for the built environment.

  • Adrian Coy is ICE vice president for membership

Readers' comments (1)

  • You are right, Adrian, on the need to widen our members' "knowledge base" but hard to see how this is to be done. 200 years ago an engineer was either 'military' or 'civil' - Brunel demonstrating the very wide range of skills of the latter. Today it's much harder.

    In the 1950s I was involved in two long-term contracts, one in Northumberland and one in Nigeria. In the former it was decided to engage management consultants - rare in those days - and I was sent on a six week induction course with them before joining their man on the contract. A serious potential loss was reversed within 18 months. Five years later the same approach was taken on the already profitable Nigerian contract.
    In long contracts I saw two phases. First, civil engineering when plant and method are set (if not done at the tender stage) and then using 'production engineering' analytical and human methods to refine things - often with significant results!

    Dick Batt MICE

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