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Viewpoint: QUEST- supporting our young talent

ICE’s Quentin Leiper on lending a hand to young civil engineers who are just starting out.

Encouraging students of the highest calibre into all areas of civil engineering and supporting them throughout their studies is critical, particularly in the current economic climate. In addition, whenthe studying is over and it comes to applying for a job, graduates still need our support as they develop their careers, and make significantly increasing contributions to their employers, the profession and the wider society.

Since 2005, over 400 civil engineering students have been granted an ICE Queen’s Jubilee Scholarship Trust or ‘QUEST’ award or scholarship, and QUEST has supported hundreds more since its inception in 1977. The scheme offers scholarships and awards for students, graduates and ICE members. It was set up with the key objective of encouraging the brightest and the best students to enter our profession and also provide them with additional development support and employment opportunities through relevant work experience. In addition, QUEST Travel and Continuing Education awards provide further learning opportunities to help ICE members continue to develop their careers.

The four award categories

There are four main QUEST scholarships and awards. The Undergraduate Scholarship pays out up to £3,000 a year for four years. It involves partnership and work experience with a leading civil engineering firm, who alongside ICE and Construction Skills contribute financially to each scholarship. The ICE also provides other support including a full-time staff member to administer the scheme. In 2009 about £750,000 was paid out to students for the Undergraduate Scholarship.

The Technician Scholarship started in 2009 for students on courses such as HNDs, HNCs, NCs, NDs and foundation degrees which could lead to technician ICE membership. The award is worth £1,500 paid either as a one-off sum or split throughout the duration of study. It is aimed to help increase technician membership of ICE and support a group of students that would not usually be eligible for the undergraduate scholarship.

The QUEST funding summit

The QUEST funding summit

QUEST Travel Awards provide funding for ICE members (of at least two years) to travel around the world to undertake activities that further their professional development. Recent awards include attending international conferences and supporting members involved in development work in Africa. Award winners receive a maximum of £1,500 as a one-off payment. In 2008, 11 awards were made and £9,000 was paid out. In 2009 this increased to 21 awards with a pay out of £21,000.

Finally, the Continuing Education Award provides financial support to ICE members returning to full or part time education. Award winners receive a maximum of £1,500 as a one-off payment. In 2009 10 awards were made and £13,000 paid out. Courses are typically at MSc level in technical or management subjects which help with career progression.

There is a huge wealth of talent currently within our industry and considering entering our industry. We must attract and inspire both today’s and tomorrow’s civil engineers by offering them the right practical and financial support. The QUEST scholarships and awards offer a fantastic combination and we look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength. Find out more on the ICE website.

● Quentin Leiper, ICE Past President and QUEST

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