GRADUATES AND students will promote civil engineering to a wider public in the name of one of the ICE's founding fathers in a forthcoming competition.
GSNC will launch the inaugural Henry Palmer award on 23 October to a fanfare of approval from the ICE executive, which has provided pounds5,000 for prizes.
Teams of no more than three will spend a year on projects such as producing a video about civil engineering for schools, developing an interactive engineering computer game or establishing links with politicians.
GSNC press officer Shona Cooper, who has developed the competition idea, said: 'There are already ICE competitions which aim to increase communication among engineers. This is different, because it is asking the engineer to talk to the guy in the street who is not familiar with technical terms - to explain the kinds of problems engineers are faced with but also the excitement of working in our profession. People complain about the standing of the profession, but here is a chance to do something positive. No-one is going to start giving attention to this profession unless it shows that it believes in itself.'
The year-long challenge for ICE members aged under 35 kicks off on 23 October with a training day at Great George Street. This aims to infuse young engineers with techniques for communicating with politicians, the media and school children among others.
'We hope the training day will give prospective entrants some inspiration of how to go about promoting the profession,' said Cooper.
Entrants will have a month to formulate their ideas before submitting their objectives and project strategies at the ICE on 20 November. After six months, teams will come back to the ICE to make a short summary and to ask for help and advice. Winners will be chosen on the measurable results in their final report submitted on 22 October 1999. Teams will be also be asked to present their work as an exhibit in the Great Hall.
The renaming of the fledgling competition, which began life as the Young Engineer Communications Champion of the Year, is very apt according to Cooper. Palmer, who helped to draw up the rules of the Institution from Kendal's coffee house, Fleet Street, in 1818, was an early champion of good communication in the profession, she said.
'One of the things Palmer was very keen on was good communication between engineers and the general public. He talked about the importance of communication in one of the first ever papers tabled for the Institution. He wrote: 'The engineer is the mediator between the philosopher and the working mechanic; and like an interpreter between two foreigners must understand the language of both'.'
GSNC hopes the competition will receive support and sponsorship from entrants' firms, as the benefits to their employees are potentially important. 'Five days of corporate professional development are on offer to those who devote a whole year to it.'
The official deadline for entries is 16 October. Application forms are available from the ICE on (0171) 222 7722.