ICE PRESIDENT Professor Adrian Long has just completed a nine day tour of Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong, designed to demonstrate the ICE's commitment to supporting and encouraging members outside the UK.
While in Shanghai Long presented an honorary fellowship to Xu Kuangdi, former mayor of Shanghai and still an influential figure in Chinese infrastructure development.
'There is a real need for the ICE to be international, ' explained Long. 'Boosting the ICE's international credentials is vital in enabling UK firms to win work overseas. UK consultants are the best in the world and we need to help to keep it that way.'
Deputy director general Amar Bhoghal accompanied Long on the trip, which was based around the ICE's annual three day bridge design conference in Shanghai.
Xu's award was made during a special ceremony at the conference and recognises his work in modernising Shanghai's infrastructure.
Alongside the conference, Long also met local ICE members, British Embassy officials and the British Council. The ICE has around 150 members across China and some 100 in Shanghai alone. This number is growing as Chinese engineers seek an internationally recognised qualification, explained Bhogal.
'We feel we have a great opportunity to expand this number, ' he added.
There is a similar desire to win more members in Japan, he said, reflecting on the current 50 strong membership, based mainly in Tokyo.
Long said that although Japanese engineers could join the Japanese Society of Civil Engineers, the ICE's international reputation remained key to transferring their skills abroad.
'The learned society aspect of ICE membership is important but it is our 'gold standard' qualification that they really want, ' he explained, emphasising that the ICE's rigorous qualification process was maintained regardless of location. 'It is a procedure that sets us apart.'
To help build and maintain the ICE's Japanese links, the trip took in a visit to Tokyo University. This is Japan's top university and was set up over a hundred years ago with help from the ICE.
The tour finished with three days in Hong Kong, home to more than 4,000 ICE members, giving Long the opportunity to emphasise the ICE's commitment to supporting its members outside the UK.
Long was esepcially keen to explain how recent organisational changes in London were designed to embed international members into the ICE's services.
'Irrespective of where members live, they have the right to expect a good service from the ICE, ' he said.