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Letters to the editor

Push for publicity

I was interested to read your commentary piece 'Engineers and proud' (NCE 24 September).

While agreeing with the sentiment and applauding such major initiatives as the proposed visitor centre for the Severn Bridges, I feel that it is on a much smaller scale that the civil engineering profession as a whole should and could be communicating this pride and achievement.

Unfortunately, civil engineering suffers from the same malaise as the construction industry as a whole. National publicity too often concentrates on negative material, whether this is cuts in government funding, or tragic accidents. This, combined with the 'natural shyness' (some could argue this is more elitism than a tendency to be modest) in the public arena, serves to perpetuate an image of distanced professionals, highly capable yet out of touch.

UK civil engineering in all its glory, large and small, should take the lead from almost every other profession/industry and instead of being quietly proud, be proactive, I hesitate to say it - but be loud!

Jan Buckingham, managing director, Golley Slater Brooker, 37-38 Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 1TS.

Monitoring members

I wish to correct the impression given by your article 'Civils gets tough on CPD', (NCE 8 October).

The decision of the ICE Council in 1992 to recognise Continuing Professional Development as a professional obligation and not to make it mandatory was crucial, and emphasised that success would spring from a constructive, imaginative approach, and not a negative, threatening one.

The Future Framework Presidential Commission report has recommended that a small sample of members' CPD practice be monitored; but no decisions have been taken as to how or when this will be done.

References to disciplinary action are inappropriate, and it is essential that the membership of the Institution is not misled on this issue. CPD is a matter of individual professional self- development, not a matter of sanctions.

Sir Alan Cockshaw (F), ICE President, One Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA.

World weary

Can I have one? Where does one get one? To whom does one apply? I can't understand how I missed out.

Neil Colquhoun (NCE 24 September) obviously has one, and I want one too. Lots of engineers have them, I've heard people go on about them for years.

I admit, I've never actually seen one, but from numerous discussions in your pages I have gleaned the drift of their contents. What I want is a 'contract for life' and it's pretty obvious the contract wording must run something like this:

I, the party of the first part, henceforth referred to as 'the world', do guarantee to you, the party of the second part, 'student/graduate/chartered civil engineer' (delete as applicable), a job for life, large salary, complete self-fulfilment and enhanced status in society.

In return for which, the party of the second part shall attend lectures diligently and follow the prescribed career paths laid down without deviation, and without questioning 'the world' in any way.

Many members of our profession seem to have one of these, often from as early as their student days.

I can only assume they are doled out at college. It's true I was a frequent absentee in that first year of good old Bradford University.

But now that I am older, wiser and have a string of letters after my name, please can someone send me one. University, Institution, employer, anyone, please. I'm out here in the cold, on my own, with only myself to rely upon.

Please, someone help me, please.

David Knowles (M), Curtins Consulting Engineers, Columbus Quay, Riverside Drive, Liverpool L3 4DU.

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