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Making tomorrow better

In his inaugural address to the Institution, new ICE president Quentin Leiper looks at how engineering knowledge can drive the sustainability agenda.

I HAVE a strong passion for engineering knowledge and the sustainability agenda. I want to promote our profession among the young; in particular, university and further education students - our future members.

I also want to recognise and celebrate the excellent civil engineers we have today, and stress the importance of developing the civil engineers of tomorrow, for the benefit of our profession and society as a whole.

I am deeply honoured to be elected your president, especially bearing in mind those who have gone before. One, of course, being our first president, Thomas Telford.

Telford Apprentices On 9 August 2007, we celebrate the 250th birthday of Thomas Telford. So next year is a special year to celebrate civil engineers and their achievements.

Last year Gordon Masterton launched the President's Apprentice scheme. It proved such a success that I've decided to extend it. This year they will be called Telford Apprentices.

Each UK region has appointed an apprentice to work with me when I visit the region. They will also get the chance to see how the Institution works. In addition, apprentices will be selected to represent Australia and New Zealand, two countries that I'll be visiting.

As part of the Thomas Telford celebrations, I will be presenting Spirit of Telford Awards to outstanding members in the UK and some of the countries I visit.

Those special members will have demonstrated excellence and delivered real value to our society, in one or more of the following categories:

Demonstrating the value of engineering knowledge;

The delivery of sustainable solutions for the benet of society and the planet; and

The encouragement and development of the civil engineers of the future.

Recognition of excellence I am asking our members to nominate the civil engineers that we should recognise. To start the ball rolling, I have selected the rst three awards myself.

My first goes to an engineer who is an internationally recognised expert on soil characterization. He introduced the concept of, and coined the name for, compensation grouting.

He has been called in to help on major projects across the world and has still found time for ground-breaking research, the writing of over 100 technical papers, the teaching and coaching of undergraduates and post-graduates, and the presentation of a series of lectures across the globe.

For excellence in demonstrating the value of engineering knowledge, my first Spirit of Telford award winner is Professor David Hight.

My second award is to a civil engineer of considerable intellectual ability in both engineering matters and business; someone who spent six years on the Court of the Bank of England and was then appointed chairman of its Audit Committee; and an Institution fellow invited by the prime minister to chair and lead the Sustainable Procurement Task Force.

He has demonstrated excellence in both the promotion and delivery of sustainable solutions for the bene of society and the planet. My second 'Spirit of Telford' engineer is Sir Neville Simms.

My al award recognises someone who has encouraged, developed and mentored thousands of civil engineers throughout the West Midlands for many organisations, including the Institution. My nal award winner is Mike Mann.

Sustainable agenda Part of the success of our society depends on how we use our knowledge and skills to in ence and deliver the sustainability agenda.

If we are to take this matter seriously then it needs to be embedded in our culture and integrated into our business strategy.

So how can we mobilise all our Institution members worldwide to become more sustainable and deliver more sustainable projects?

I suggest these ve steps:

Understand why we need tobecome more sustainable;

Engender real ownership through proper training to energise and enthuse;

Provide guidance that is simple to follow, so we know what to do and how to do it;

Show leadership to motivate others; and nally;

Demonstrate and celebrate success, which will help convince our clients and other stakeholders that the sustainable way is the only way.

Civil engineers have the knowledge to deliver the sustainability agenda. So as a profession, let's get on and do it.

I now want to turn to our plans in the Institution for the coming year.

Future challenges My role as President will be to champion the Institution's strategy, one that was initiated by Adrian Long when he was senior vice president, developed by Council, the Executive Board, ICE members and employees, and delivered under past presidents Doug Oakervee, Colin Clinton and Gordon Masterton.

The delivery of the Institution's strategy continues to be a team effort. My contribution over the next year will be to promote the value of engineering knowledge, to promote the sustainability agenda and engage with young engineers.

The team will be led by David Orr, Jean Venables and Paul Jowitt, each making their own contribution to moving our strategy forward.

Over the coming months, Council will be reviewing our discussions on how we can best work more closely with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Of course, we will also continue to work with many other bodies in engineering and the built environment, where we can create benets through working together.

So what are our challenges today?

Civil engineers must use their engineering knowledge, understand the sustainability agenda and persuade more young people to join the profession in order to make tomorrow a better place.

Thank you for giving me the honour of being your 142nd president.

I am very much looking forward to the year ahead.

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