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Involve the rank and file

Letters to the editor

The feature (NCE last week) on the tiny percentage of civil engineering graduates who attempt to become Members of the Institution of Civil Engineers confirmed my view that the ICE is not in touch with the wide range of disciplines within the civil engineering profession, as we approach the 21st century. The 19th century traditions of Telford, Stephenson and Brunel provide a wonderful heritage, but times have moved on.

I am proud of the Institution headquarters; it is a magnificent building, with superbly equipped lecture theatres. But as a meeting place for civil engineers it often seems almost dead. I recently visited the Institute of Directors and was amazed at the constant bustle of activity; clearly members use this building as a real focus for their daily work.

The same NCE also refers to the success of a place called 'One Great George Street' as a conference and banqueting centre.

While I am fully aware of the need to run the Institution on a commercial basis, this now seems to take priority over the needs of a professional institution. It certainly is a sad reflection of the low self esteem of civil engineers that the conference facilities are not marketed as 'The Institution of Civil Engineers'.

Of course the problem lies with the rank and file Members, like me, who take little or no part in the Institution. Ways need to be found to involve us all.

G Nigel King (M), High Hedges, Cadmore End, High Wycombe, Bucks HP14 3PL

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