Joining the ICE in 2018, I can feel the excitement as we start the year-long ICE 200 celebrations, marking our bicentenary.
Jonathan baggs crop
As an industry we have so much to celebrate from our first 200 years and even more to look forward to as we face the future.
One of the early highlights of 2018 is the fantastic ICE 200 Exhibition, open at One Great George Street, proudly displaying the awesome projects our own superheroes have created. With 10 superheroes from across the ages – from Sir Joseph Bazalgette as “Captain Sanitation” and his modern successor Andy Mitchell as “Infrastructo”, to our own “Digital Dynamo”, Anne Kemp – the exhibition is a testament to the work our members have done, and continue to do. It is proof of the varied, creative, rewarding and fun careers that civil engineering provides. The superheroes show us what we already know – that civil engineers are creative people who solve problems.
As well as it being a showcase of, and for, civil engineers, we have a duty to reach out to promote the profession to the general public and make everyone welcome. We must persuade non-engineers that it is through civil engineering that humanity shapes its world and improves lives for this generation and the next.
Having worked previously with Crossrail’s engineers to bridge the gap between the project and its many stakeholders, I have seen for myself the benefits of communicating with and inspiring the general public – in protecting the programme, maintaining political support, and inspiring school children to consider a career in civil engineering.
We can expect to hear much more from Crossrail this year as the Elizabeth Line commences passenger services through the central tunnels at the end of the year. Crossrail is just one of the many projects driven by our members and explained by our tireless team of science, technology, engineering and maths ambassadors. From the consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing, to groundworks on High Speed 2, to the start of tunnelling on Tideway, our region has a pipeline of projects to inspire and excite in equal measure throughout 2018.
These projects – big and small – add value to the overall economy and enrich people’s lives. Civil engineers have for centuries been at the heart of social and economic progress and helped improve the world in which we live. Without our Superheroes, our region would grind to a halt. There’s always more to do to keep London moving, and we must keep innovating. When London succeeds, the whole UK succeeds too.
This year we must reach out to friends and families to explain the vital and varied work that civil engineers do. Encourage yours to visit the exhibition or one of a host of ICE 200 events running throughout the UK. That way we can demonstrate to the general public the true value of civil engineering and nurture our next generation of superheroes.
- Jonathan Baggs is regional director, London and South East England.