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Division lobby

Letters

It was fascinating to read your report and analysis on the joint meeting of the respective councils of the Institutions of Civil Engineers and Mechanical Engineers (NCE 28 September).

The presentations spoke of convergence and merger, although one gets the impression that some people were really thinking only in terms of the latter.

A number of issues against a merger were flagged up, but differences in annual subs or membership structure are mere trivia.

We need to concentrate on what is the fundamental justification for the merger.

Platitudes such as 'holistic views', 'economies of scale', and 'greater influence' are not enough, and could probably be called into service if we were merging with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. Where is the synergy between these two bodies?

In my earlier career there were often instances of engineers belonging to both institutions, although admittedly this was a time when the mechanism of admission was much less structured.

I have examined the stated outside memberships in a recent council handbook covering 55 council members and 20 past presidents. The result was: Institution of Highways & Transportation - 10; Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management - 7; Institute of Structural Engineers - 6; Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) - 0.

There appears now to be little common membership, probably because the interests of the two bodies have diverged further. Many IMechE members work in the process industry and on machine tool design.

The diversion that this proposal will cause has the potential to distract council from the more important matters of developing ICE's business plan and improving its learned society performance.

Brian Flynn (F), b. flynn@flynnandrothwell.com

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