The industry is all about diversity. But probably not the type of diversity you might expect.
It is constantly amazing to see the incredible range of technical talent that exists in our industry, stretching well beyond our usual comfort zones.
We have reached the point where neatly-drawn boundaries around the four cornerstones of transport, water, energy and waste cannot possibly capture our collective involvement and influence across a much broader economic and sustainable growth agenda.
Our expertise across this increasingly diverse portfolio is allowing us into much richer and more direct conversations with the critical issues of today and tomorrow. We must embrace this and the potential it brings.
To take a few examples of boundary-pushing seen over the last few weeks, the ICE Graduates and Students scored massive creativity points at Ecobuild. Some young engineers – women and men – from the London Design & Engineering University played to a full house as they showcased their skiing robots.
Two days later, on an adjacent and equally busy Ecobuild stage, the BBC’s Roger Harrabin brought his provocative style to bear in quizzing the panel about future mobility and the likely reality of autonomous vehicles.
Spanning technology, place-making and route-shaping, this was a different kind of engineering conversation.
The launch of Digital Transformation, the ICE’s 2017 State of the Nation report, provides bold, visible and thought-provoking evidence of our new and broader message.
It embraces and adopts the digital aspects of what we do – and what we could do in future – to support better outcomes for economic growth, homes and jobs.
The end result is the product of many minds: technologists, lawyers, financiers and engineers, to name just a few.
And finally, at WSP’s recent Prestige Lecture, new research was shared into London’s future, anchored not in the usual population or climate megatrends but in social trends and real life perceptions of people living in London today.
Offering a grounded and intensely personal perspective of everyday experiences of the shared economy, happiness and the potential for loneliness, this offered yet another new lens through which to view the benefits and impacts of what we do.
With ICE 200 and, in the UK, the Year of the Engineer approaching fast, now is the time to stake a permanent claim to all of the new territory above.
We must work to engage with an ever-more-diverse range of people with specialisms, interests and messages that now have a home inside a much-extended civil engineering “tent”.
These people are not all civil engineers, and nor should they be.
This is the next natural step in our effort to attract a wider range of interested professionals who see a value in aligning with us, not because they are engineers but because they understand the importance of what we do and consider themselves part of our engineering community.
Put simply, what we do matters to them too.
It goes without saying that we should continue to push our boundaries. If we do, our collective wish to become an industry that is much more attractive to the outside world – one that is much more relevant, visible and interesting – could be granted sooner than we think. As said at the start, it is all about diversity.
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