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Defining document

It would be very regrettable if your readers were to gain the impression that SARTOR (Standards and routes to registration) and its implementation were 'in a mess' as indicated by David Bonner in his letter (NCE 11/25 December). SARTOR 3rd Edition was accepted by the Engineering Council on 11 September and is issued in two parts. Part 1 sets out the policy behind the proposals together with definitions and formation for all three levels of registration. In particular, it gives clear indication of what is required in the educational base and a general description of MEng, BEng and IEng Degrees. Part 2 of SARTOR expands these descriptions considerably and although written to embrace all the engineering disciplines, one would have expected that universities would have been giving a deal of thought as to how their existing courses matched against these general requirements.

Since SARTOR was published, the institutions have been working very hard to define the detailed guidelines for the construction specialisms that will not be prescriptive but give closer indications of what the accreditation boards will be seeking. Both the Joint Board of Moderators and the Joint Accreditation Panel finalised these documents last week and it is intended that a working draft of the educational elements will be despatched to universities by the end of this month. While these will be refined following further discussion, they will enable the universities to review their present courses. It is clear from SARTOR that new accredited BEng(Hons) courses will not depart significantly from existing accredited courses although they will be constructed to handle candidates of a higher intellectual ability in some cases. MEng courses will need to be deeper and broader than the existing MEng courses. The major effort will be in devising IEng courses by those universities that elect to do so. Even here, guidelines for such courses were produced by JAP in 1996 and will be generally applicable now, and colleagues who are already running courses will be able to help.

Guidance for graduates on their paths to chartered or incorporated status is spelt out quite clearly in Chapter 8 of SARTOR Part 2 and both Robin Wilson and David Rogers were 'singing from the same hymn sheet' at the Association of Civil Engineering Departments meeting in Cardiff. The philosophy behind the timescale was to introduce the raising of standards as rapidly as possible, but in a way that would ensure that no candidate at any stage of qualification would be penalised by the change. Wherever graduates may be in the current qualification process, they will have plenty of warning of the requirements for the next stages.

One area where clarification is still required is in regard to the Engineering Council Special Examination to assess a mixed cohort at the end of the first year. It is said that many universities will wish to avail themselves of this route, but a word of caution. The circumstances in which this might operate are set out in Annex C to SARTOR Part 2 Section 4.1.1, from which it is clear that this will only be on an exceptional basis. It will require development of a special course that is capable to being genuinely bifurcated after a common first year, and where either of two pathways is wholly accreditable for either CEng or IEng. The course would require special accreditation by one or more bodies and will have to be formally overseen by the Board for Engineers' Regulation through its Registration Standards Committee. This is a complex and difficult pathway to follow and a pre-requisite is that a university has developed both CEng and IEng courses, which is why the Engineering Council needs to give further thought on how any Special Examination could fit into such a course.

We would urge ACED to concentrate on the main pathways contained within SARTOR and work with the institutions as they develop all the elements of implementation during 1998. It will demand a great deal of effort on the part of everyone involved in the qualification process, but given goodwill we believe that the timetable can be met.

Robin Wilson (F), chairman BER, David Rogers (F), member EC Registration Standards Committee

8 Blackthorne Close, Solihull, B91 1PF.

Roro initiative

I read in NCE 1/8 January of the anxiety about the delay in producing a roro design standard. It is right to wave the red flag but we could be more constructive.

ICE should demonstrate that it is a flexible and dynamic organisation that can cut through financial, bureaucratic and legal blockages.

We should (a) seek out three engineers experienced in roro design; (b) engage one to produce a design guide; (c) engage the other two to check the guide; and (d) publish and advertise the guide.

I am sure engineers would be prepared to produce the guide quickly at a reasonable cost for the sake of the profession and acknowledgement of their firm's commitment.

A list of do's and don'ts speedily produced is what is needed, whether it is legal or standard-like is a secondary matter. DIY stores produce these leaflets. Why can't we?

Alexander Grott (M), 24 Woodhatch Spinney, Coulsdon, CR5 2SU

Parking penalty

In speculating that the pending transport White Paper might not contain sufficiently radical modal transfer measures, Alastair McLellan may be overlooking the proposed tax on private non-residential parking (PNR), announced only last week. Long overdue, this is the most promising measure yet to be brought forward.

PNR accounts for a high proportion of the parking stock in most established centres, so thwarts many a council's efforts to achieve traffic restraint through parking demand management.

Pricing it on a par with public parking spaces would substantially resolve this problem and restore to local authorities some measure of control over their local transport environments.

Given the abundance of PNR at out of town malls and business parks, the tax would redress the balance of attraction between in-town and out of town facilities serving to revitalise local centres. It

would moreover provide incentives to home working

and tele-shopping, leading to less commuting and more energy efficient retail distribution.

But most import of all is the enormous revenue raising potential of a PNR tax for investment in sustainable transportation projects.

Given that government now recognises these benefits, councils should be considering the local implication right away, not three years down the line when the tax may be operative and displacing thousands of vehicles from office car parks to peripheral residential roads. All those shelved 'politically sensitive' plans for new and extended controlled zones should now be dusted-off and put out to public consultation without delay.

B Hanson(M), technical director, Aspen Consulting Group, Dippen Hall,

Blindley Heath, Surrey,

RH7 6JX.

Fire raising

While our profession seeks to demonstrate that we are literate as well as numerate, it is unfortunate that you use the Hollywood expression 'towering inferno' to describe a high building on fire in

your issue of 11/25 December 1997.

Inferno is from Dante meaning the nether regions or hell; to describe them as towering is surely an oxymoron. He also envisaged their worst part to be extremely cold.

D Dennington (F), 25 Corkran Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 6PL.

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