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Chrimes watch: Visions of the future

In my retirement speech to colleagues last July I related a story about an essay I wrote at the age of 16 about entrusting the future of the world to young people. In general this is a view that I have maintained.

I was delighted to see in his NCE interview that ICE President David Balmforth shares my passion for young people, their capacity for fresh thinking, and what they can offer for the future. However uncomfortable older people may feel about it, we need to accept the need to step down and let a new generation strive to change the world for the better.

I have been very pleased to read in recent NCEs about the progress made on a number of initiatives which I have been involved in over the last year or so. The success of the ICE’s BIM (Building Information Modelling) conference on 29 October reflects the interest in one of the biggest contemporary changes to civil engineering. Even so, that very success is tempered by the results of the latest ICE BIM heat map survey, showing there is still a need to educate the profession in BIM’s potential.

I was pleased to see the recent reports of the Infrastructure Client Group and attended its first annual conference. From the meetings I attended, it was clear that it contains some very able people who are committed to change the way infrastructure is procured and managed, and are prepared to invest in research to challenge existing industry practices.

David Balmforth spoke of the virtue of diversity in his NCE interview, a continuing theme which was echoed in Alexis Field’s viewpoint in a subsequent NCE. She talked about the merits of equality and diversity in civil engineering, saying that as practicing engineers we should relish the chance to be the profession that is accessible to all.

I wonder what she made of NCE’s cover the following week - “Delivery Men” - headlining a story about this new Infrastructure Client Group. Denise Dower and Zara Lamont attended the roundtable, so surely a more inclusive cover photograph and title could have been dreamed up - or are young people to continue to see a stereotypical picture of the future of infrastructure and civil engineering as one dominated by men?

In my final year at the ICE I worked with vice president Keith Clarke to increase diversity on ICE’s expert panels. Civil engineering cannot have a future if it cannot attract the talent of all the young people who are starting out on their career choices today. A cover picture of the women leading industry change would help.

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