ICE COUNCIL was due to decide if it is to join in with plans to create a 250,000 member super institution embracing civil, mechanical, electrical and incorporated engineers at its meeting in Belfast in mid-June.
The ICE is under pressure to act quickly if it is to keep up to speed with merger plans being developed by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) and the Institute of Incorporated Engineers (IiE).
The IEE council gave its go ahead to develop the plans at its May meeting. Decisions from the IMechE and IiE councils were expected late June.
The three institutions believe that a merger could serve an increasingly multidisciplinary membership by creating a new overarching body capable of offering a strong lobbying voice.
ICE is now playing catch up, having only learnt of the plans when they became public in May.
'What they are saying is that their train has left the platform - the question now is can we sprint fast enough to catch it, ' said ICE director general Tom Foulkes.
He cancelled a trip to Canada and the US last month so that he could study the plans.
'Council has to see that this is a potential opportunity. The question is do they want to seize it?' said Foulkes. 'I am hoping for a lively debate that concludes with a real direction.'
'Contrary to what we expected, we haven't got the 'yes, please join us' yet, ' said Foulkes.
'What we have got is 'yes, pleased you are interested, but are you sure how radical we are?'' Merger talks between the institutions are not new. The ICE itself has tried merging with the IMechE six times in the past nine years, but has always met with resistance.
This time Foulkes believes the multidisciplinary nature of the proposal will count in its favour.
'The big thing is that no-one has ever proposed a new multidisciplinary institution. I have not yet spoken to a single person who thinks it is a bad idea.'