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Letters: Professional review and site experience

Recent debate in NCE on the need for young engineers to have site experience reflects our diverse profession. Civil engineering is a varied industry encompassing a wide variety of different specialisms, and the ICE’s requirements for professional qualification reflect this.

All professional review candidates must demonstrate a sound knowledge and understanding of the construction process. They must also have an appreciation of the risks arising from their work, and an ability to identify and manage those risks. Those who are involved in the construction process will normally be required to have site experience.

However, at professional review, the ICE measures outputs rather than inputs. This means no minimum amount of time is specified for site experience or indeed any other activity. Instead, reviewers assess the impact of an individual’s experience and their resultant capability.

  • Susan Clements (M), head of qualifications, ICE, 1 Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA

Engineer steals quake movie

I went to see the earthquake disaster movie San Andreas (in 3D - a must for this film) and highly recommend it to engineers (after parking your brains at the cinema door). The young hero is British and implicitly a structural engineer who rescues the female love interest from under a slab of reinforced concrete by using his structural nous after the cowardly panicky architect leaves her there.

San Andreas

San Andreas: Golden Gate bridge prepares to meet its end

Along the way, the Golden Gate Bridge is destroyed by a massive container ship falling on it (perfectly logical when tsunamis are around, obviously). Oh, and the structural engineer gets the girl in the end.

The plot and script could be written on the back of an e-cigarette pack, but who cares, the CGI is fantastic so I don’t think I’ve spoiled it for anyone intending to go.

  • Bruce Latimer [M retd]

Nepal quake in perspective

I was interested to read your article on the Nepal quake (NCE 14 May). It seemed that while some dashed to help, others dashed home.

I have been living in Kathmandu since late 2012 and was having a lazy afternoon on the Saturday of the first quake. I’m not sure where your “visiting engineer” was staying, but no buildings on my street collapsed.

Sure, various masonry boundary walls, older and makeshift houses fell, some reinforced concrete framed structures and multiple power lines and telephone poles, but mass destruction was not witnessed in Kathmandu except to heritage areas such as the Durbar. The brunt has been felt in rural areas where connectivity was already a problem, made more acute by the quake.

In the one month since the quake I have been doing rapid visual assessments of schools, houses, hotels and monasteries on a voluntary basis after attending orientation by both NEA (Nepal Engineers Association) and NSET (Nepal Society of Earthquake Technology). Of the buildings which hadn’t already collapsed during the first quake, only a small minority which still stand are unsafe or uninhabitable. It is pretty clear that international media coverage in the first week was poorly informed, focused on Kathmandu and blown out of proportion.

One month later people are still living in tents, but mainly due to fear as almost 300 tremors of greater than magnitude 4 have occurred since the initial quake.

Schools have reopened and power, water, phone, internet and TV services are back to normal (ie intermittent).

Engineering input is now needed to ensure that people who opt to try and rebuild homes now, with the monsoon imminent, build something structurally better than they had before. In many areas, including Kathmandu, hi-tech retrofitting solutions are not viable, due to specialist equipment and skills needed, or just plain cost. So for these reasons, many perfectly salvageable structures will probably be demolished since there are no safe alternatives.

Unfortunately unscrupulous builders are giving bad advice to vulnerable households and ripping them off.

More importantly though is the fact that Nepal is open for business as usual. I have been sleeping in my apartment since the first night and shops, hotels and restaurants are open.

  • Shiriin Barakzai (M) Mahankhal, Boudha, Nepal

Sewage grid is cheaper than Tideway

Your Comment about water security in the south east of England is most timely.

A simple transfer system for raw water, linking existing sources and reservoirs, could be built for less than the sum that Thames Water is spending on the Tideway project. If their customers had been properly consulted, I wonder which scheme they would have voted for - secure water supplies or a marginal improvement in water quality in the tidal River Thames?

  • Peter Styles

Readers' comments (1)

  • The great majority of the public know little or nothing about water supply or sewage treatment. They expect that turning on the tap will supply clean potable water and that flushing the toilet will not result in smells from the local stream. In addition, they expect that swimming/surfing will not result in an ear infection and that fish will live happily in the local river.
    On the whole, swimming, fishing and smells beat security of water supply hands down: except when the tap doesn't run or is Unclean!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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