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The Editor welcomes letters at 151 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1R 4QX

fax: (0171) 505 6667 e-mail:

and reserves the right to condense.

Associate title is being demeaned

I was interested to read that the ICE 'plans to encourage more civil firms to adopt ICE training agreements for the development of young graduate engineers under the supervision of senior colleagues (NCE 8 October). I subsequently attended the launch of the Institution's revamped membership policy in London on 12 October.

At the launch we were told that the lion tamer depicted in NCE's training feature reflected the policy that successful future professional engineers would be 'lions and tigers' - self motivated individuals ready for the cut and thrust of the commercial world. We were also advised that the title of 'associate' would be akin to that of 'certified' in the accountancy profession and would suit those who perhaps lacked creative and innovative flair.

There are a number of graduates who have excelled at university (first and upper second class honours degrees) and are now managing multi-disciplinary projects involving engineering, financial and legal aspects. Unfortunately, these same individuals are disenfranchised by the Institution and perceive an elitist club that is creating ever increasing barriers to membership. While the task of becoming a chartered engineer is being made more challenging, the role of associate is demeaned.

I accept that the parallel drawn with accountancy could be a pragmatic approach in terms of membership policy. Associates could practise widely in the field of civil engineering, recognised as having a satisfactory level of competence to act as engineer under the ICE 6th Edition for example. If it is to be successful, the role of associate must be established as one which contributes to success in the business of civil engineering, not defined by negative comparisons with chartered status.

It was refreshing to hear Sue Beavill-Till at the same event bring an upbeat message about the range of activities that would be counted as continuing professional development. She has come to help the Institution having formerly worked with the Royal Institute of British Architects. That organisation has an enlightened attitude to welcoming people through its front door. Perhaps the RIBA can also teach us something about encouraging people into a profession regardless of the role they can fulfil.

Richard Haisman, (M), head of engineering, Cannock Chase Council, Civic Centre, PO Box 28, Beecroft Road, Cannock, Staffordshire WS11 1BG.

Congestion doesn't bother bikers

In your news item 'Bikers urged to rally to transport cause' (NCE 8 October) Lord Whitty accuses us of apathy and is, of course, correct.

We motorcyclists don't care about congestion because we don't cause it and it does not affect us. Anyone who is touched by commonsense must see that motorcycles are by far the best commuter vehicle available due to their speed, agility, and low cost.

The only real problem, where I live at least, is the refusal of the local council to provide reasonable parking facilities, unlike pedal cycles, which recently, for some inexplicable reason, are having millions of pounds thrown at them countrywide providing cycle tracks/lanes which will remain

the most underused transport facilities ever conceived.

JA Edwards, 222 Holmlands Drive, Prenton, Wirral, Merseyside L43 0UU.

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