As one who qualified more than 50 years ago - doing it the easy way - may I comment on my friend Geoffrey Hawker's letter (NCE 12 February).
Geoffrey is of course correct in saying that the 'hard way' - full-time employment and night school - produced engineers who had the basic theoretical and practical knowledge required in their work.
Those who did it the easy way were not, however, entirely without practical experience as they did not qualify for corporate membership until they had completed several years of postgraduate practical training.
While I have the greatest respect for engineers I have known that qualified the hard way, I suggest that the more academic, 'easy way' encouraged original thought rather than slavish adherence to traditional methods.
One engineer in this category was the late Peter Stott, under whose direction I was privileged to work in the early 1960s. Peter - a Cambridge graduate and a former ICE president - was an original thinker. He applied first principles to the job in hand, without being hidebound in any way. A view of one of his innovative structures, the Hammersmith flyover, forms the backdrop to his presidential portrait in the ICE.
Douglas A Stephenson (F), Cooma, Laverstock Park, Salisbury, SP1 1QJ