GRADUATES & Students National Committee chairman Marcus Rooney sampled life as an ICE figurehead on a presidential tour of the Far East and Australasia earlier this year.
Accompanying president Douglas Oakervee, 27-year-old Rooney said he took part in the whistle stop tour to demonstrate the ICE's commitment to the engineers of the future.
He was impressed both by the universal nature of some engineering challenges, and by the contrast between UK and international engineering issues.
'The UK still has things to aim for, ' Rooney said. Part of his brief involved talking to students about the opportunities offered by civil engineering.
'I went off on my own to give presentations to universities. At the University of Indonesia I met students who didn't really know what it meant to be civil engineers or what it meant to be a professional engineer rather than just a graduate.'
He was heartened by his reception at more formal functions too.
'One of the high points was meeting trade and industry people like the British High Commissioner in Malaysia and the ambassador in Indonesia. 'I found them very keen to talk to me and find out my perspective.'
With backing from his employer Halcrow, Rooney persuaded his client the Highways Agency that the 28-day trip would be beneficial and at Easter headed off for Malaysia, Indonesia, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne in Australia before rounding off the journey in New Zealand.
He learned that young engineering groups in Australia and Malaysia are involved in similar activities attempting to cultivate interest in the profession at schools but noticed a difference in New Zealand.
'In New Zealand the Institution of Professional Engineers is paid by the government to advise on the curriculum, which I thought was fascinating.'
He was also impressed that 80% of New Zealand students are members of their institution.
'That's something the ICE could improve. Our percentage is nothing like that.'
Observing the ICE's reputation abroad was a particularly pleasant side to the tour for Rooney.
'People at work give a bit of stick to the ICE but there we met so many guys in Australia who had come to Britain for a few years, got chartered and gone home but kept up their membership for years.
'One of the reasons for it could be that it's such an international institution. Anyone in Australia who wants to work overseas knows they need ICE after their name to do that. It's a global brand.
'Certainly in Asia and the Pacific there was no mention of American or other European standards, it was just ICE. It's nice to know that my qualification has such standing.'
Rooney inspected a range of projects during the tour, including a new road tunnel in Sydney, work for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and an Engineers Against Poverty effort to install power lines in a remote part of Indonesia.
Oakervee could have set a precedent with his invitation to Rooney, who said that next year's president Colin Clinton had expressed an interest in continuing the practice.