THE ICE's new-look Members' Guide promises to once and for all set out precisely what it does for its members.
The new edition of the guide, to be delivered with NCE next week, focuses on just why it is important to belong to the wider community of civil engineers.
ICE director for regional operations and policy Julien Parrott explains: 'By better defining what help to expect from ICE and just how many ways members can contribute to support their Institution, the new edition of the Members' Guide is perhaps a timely reminder of what the ICE stands for.'
'No one ever said civil engineering was easy, ' the guide proclaims. 'We're supposed to create wealth, remove pollution and advance society . . . but who do you turn to when you don't know what to do next? When immediate colleagues can no longer provide advice . . . and when no one can - or wants to - understand your problem?'
'The answer to all of these questions is The Institution of Civil Engineers, ' it claims.
So is it? NCE canvassed three ICE members at various stages of their careers.
'I thought I knew everything about the ICE, yet I found something new and exciting, ' said recently chartered building engineer Jim Bell. 'How many members know that in the heart of London there are free shower and changing facilities for them?'
'It is encouraging to see how much assistance is available - I phoned some numbers in the guide for technical advice, and they were very helpful.'
However, the guide is not foolproof, as Bob Bennett, ICE Yorkshire association's development officer, found: 'I telephoned three points of contact of interest, with mixed results.
'One call was met with an answer machine and the next call, to the Health & Safety Board, was unobtainable.
'The final call was to request legal notes. The phone was answered by Danni, who was very pleasant and helpful and promised to email a list of notes.
The info arrived within the hour - truly impressive!
'The guide seems to cover everything that the Institution is about. The information is accessible, with relevant contact points identified.'
The style and appearance of the new guide, with its deliberate focus away from the coal-face of civil engineering sites, provoked most comment.
'The impression is of some sort of spiritual guide, ' said Bennett. 'Soft, hazy blues, ethereal photos, and dandelion seeds on their way to development.
'None of the 'at work' photos identify the civil engineer. They could be showing a metallurgist or even a QS at work, ' he said.
Peter Chambers, a senior bridge engineer working in London, agreed: 'I don't know why the Institution goes in for these arty pictures. It shows a lack of confidence and looks as if we are trying to avoid what we do. The content is good, but the user-friendliness is not quite right.'
ICE vice president John Bircumshaw, chairman of the committee who saw the guide through to completion, is delighted with the results.
'Whether you are a member of many years' standing or a student at the start of your career, the guide is designed to direct you to the help and support the Institution can offer throughout your working life.
Read it thoroughly and keep it handy, ' he said.