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Spreading the word

Glen Owen

How we can all help the profession.

As a fairly recent recruit to the staff of our Institution I have been reflecting on how we get things done. I really hadn’t given it a lot of thought before taking up this role 18 months ago - despite being a member of the ICE for the last 20 years.

The Institution has a quite a few members of staff, but perhaps not quite as many as many members might think and while staff are dedicated and professional, much of their work and many of their activities rely on the goodwill of our members who contribute their expertise and volunteer their time.

Just taking the programme of events in the East of England as an example - over 80 events are organised each year, all of which can’t take place without the voluntary support of enthusiastic members.

Our success at encouraging more civil engineers into membership relies on reviewers, supervising civil engineers and delegated engineers and without this support the process simply wouldn’t function.

A lot of engineers give up their time to make school visits to help inspire young people to take up engineering as a career - I’ve done it myself.

Wealth of knowledge

We also have a wealth of knowledge that has been collected and distributed by our members - almost all of which is done on a voluntary basis.

So my eyes have been opened over the last year and a half to all the wonderful work our members are doing for our Institution and by extension for the good of society. It also gets me thinking about all the other ways in which members can and do contribute. The most obvious is through the annual subscription but there are less tangible ways.

Simple conversations we all have with non-engineers about what we do and displaying our letters after our names help to promote the profession and lift our status.

Encouraging a colleague to consider a professional qualification, attending an event to hear about an interesting project or putting a project you are working forward for an award, are all ways in which individually we can participate. We don’t all have to make time to join an ICE committee or panel to make a difference.

There is no doubt that the strength of our Institution lies in the wide ranging efforts and contributions our members make and this input is hugely appreciated and important. So I’d like to say thank you, and to encourage you all to give a little time, however small, to your Institution.

We all want the world to know what great works civil engineers do and only we can tell them. To paraphrase, perhaps our battle cry should be ‘Ask not what your profession can do for you but what you can do for your profession.’

  • Glen Owen is ICE regional director for the East of England and a chartered civil engineer

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