The forthcoming Brunel bicentenary conference (NCE last week) will be an inspiring celebration of one of the profession's key fi gures but we should be wary of raising expectations for today. Society has moved on.
Brunel and his fellows were making a step change in the way people lived - transport by canal and rail, spanning gorges, water supply to cities, burrowing tunnels, crossing the sea by steamship, and so on.
This societal-change role is being played by the computer boffins today who are giving everyone possibilities in work and home which our fathers never dreamed of.
Nowadays most engineers find themselves concerned with building what we have come to accept but making it that bit better.
The hotographic competition you are holding highlights this change of emphasis by focusing in on the details. This, after the first visual impact, is where most people will make contact with a building and decide whether it is a comfortable addition to their environment.
So today's celebration of engineering should focus on getting people to be proud of what we do because it improves the working, or reduces the stress, of their lives and environment.
A celebration might be a glossy calendar of the best of those photographs- Even the runners-up are brilliant images and show how we interact with people to build a better world in today's, if not Brunel's, terms.
Jon Balley (M), jonballey@tiscali. co. uk