MEMBERSHIP ENQUIRIES from a heavy influx of young civil engineers made Civils 98 a sure fire hit for the ICE.
After counting nearly 2,000 visitors over the threshold of their Great George Street 'mock up' over three days at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, ICE staff believe the ultimate success of the unique venture will be measured by membership gains.
Recently graduated engineers asking for help and advice on the Holy Grail to chartered status, kept the rotating staff on their feet all day to boost the President's aim of a 30% rise in membership.
Lesley Snashford of education and training said: 'There were many enquiries about reaching chartered status and we do intend to make follow up calls. There were also enquiries from companies wishing to train engineers up to the professional review standard. These will be passed to regional liaison officers to follow up. In some cases we have been able to dispel the impression that people have to be with one of the approved companies with which we have a training agreement. That is not the case.'
The 1,915 visitors to the stand, over three days were welcomed into an eye catching stand evoking the Portland stone splendour of the Whitehall HQ. Director of Communications & Public Affairs Ian Moore, who oversaw the stand said: 'On average only about 15% of members visit Great George Street, so this was an outreach to bring the headquarters to Birmingham for a few days.'
With the stand handily placed near to one of the main entrances, a bustling traffic of visitors kept ICE staff on their feet all day, as they communicated the ICE's core aims of attracting the professional, training the professional and projecting the profession. The hard graft was jollied along by a jazz band playing throughout the day at a neighbouring stand. After 480 visitors on Tuesday, 861 visitors thronged the stands on Wednesday and a further 574 on Thursday.
'We've never tried to do this before and it was everything we hoped for after months of planning. It was especially pleasing to see so many younger professionals,' said Moore, who turned his hand to demonstrating the ICE web page, from one of the five terminals set up.
'It was the most popular stand over the three days and we were seen to be at the heart of the exhibition. We've already booked our place for Civils 2000,' continued Moore, who received an e-mail from Director General Roger Dobson congratulating the team on their success.
'What I enjoyed was that it showed the camaraderie of our profession; that we can come together in the competitive age we live in and exchange yarns about our profession as colleagues, and let's not be shy about it, a bit of social gossip. It was a very pleasant day.'
The stand will be held in storage until the next time, when there will be improvements: 'I picked up some ideas from walking around the other stands. We will think about a big screen with an interactive display every five minutes, but we won't alter the structure which went down very well. The thousands of pounds spent on getting the ICE to Civils 98 is a capital investment for the future because the equipment can be used again.'
Moore also hailed the stand as a 'bonding experience' between the ICE and Thomas Telford Publishing. 'I think we have a clearer idea of the things that Thomas Telford are doing at the moment and vice versa, by sharing a stand and coffee housing with them. The joint venture has strengthened our relationship.'