INCORPORATED ENGINEERS qualifying after 1 January 2001 will be able to use the title MICE, after a historic vote was taken this week by the Institution of Civil Engineers' Council.
After two hours and 45 minutes of impassioned debate - the longest in memory at Council - the motion to back single status for Institution members was carried 30 votes to five with two abstentions.
Speaking after the vote, President George Fleming said: 'Council's overwhelming approval for the proposal is a triumph of common sense in this all-inclusive Institution. It recognises the new higher standard required of IEng in the future - three year degree, four years training, full scale professional review - just the same as many CEngs at present.'
A second debate and much closer vote at this week's meeting also ruled out by 21 votes to 18 the option of taking the Council's decision to the membership with a referendum.
Fleming, adamant that this was the correct decision, said: 'This demonstrates Council's determination to lead the membership through careful consideration, consultation and decision of these complex issues. I am sure this is the wish of the silent majority of our members who will be fully informed.'
This week's Council decisions will see 'one class of member, MICE, embrace all those who professionally qualify by satisfying the requirements of the ICE Chartered Professional Review or the ICE Incorporated Professional Review.
'Because the ICE is licensed and has a duty to enter professionally qualified engineers into the Register of the Engineering Council as CEng or IEng respectively, the designatory letters displayed by those people will be CEng MICE or IEng MICE if they so register.'
Agreement to adopt the new designation follows a proposal from vice president Mark Whitby last February to combat the threat of a two tier membership developing as a result of the Engineering Council's new routes to chartered status.
A counter argument was led by past president Roger Sainsbury who said: 'I agree with the need to attract good quality people into the Institution. But the letters MICE will no longer designate the professional standard of the holder. We have set aside the original intention of raising the standard of MICE.'
Many council members felt that such a 'profound and exceptional issue' meant the ICE should poll the members.
However, vice president John Bircumshaw argued: 'The local associations have debated the issue, they have formed their views and it is down to the representatives on Council to get on with what they are elected to do.'
Chief executive Mike Casebourne said: 'There is no doubt that in our profession workplace experience and responsibility quickly overtakes academic achievement in professional development.
He added: 'It is absolutely right that we acknowledge that fact of life by welcoming both IEng and CEng into the single class of membership MICE and maintaining that qualification standard through the rigour of our professional reviews.'