I read with concern that ICE Council has decided to withdraw funding from the PEI in North East and two other areas (NCE 23 September).
The PEIs have no funding other than for administrative purposes. All activities, such as the annual prestige lecture, joint programme card and schools liaison activities require the establishment of joint ventures.
As the secretary of the North East PEI Education Joint Venture, I spend almost as much time trying to raise a modest level of funding (target budget is £7,000 per annum) as spending it. Far from duplicating the Neighbourhood Engineers scheme, we use the two to mutual advantage. The current going rate for a Neighbourhood Engineer is generally set at £20 per hour, and on this basis, North East Neighbourhood Engineers made a total in-kind contribution equivalent to some £16,000 during the last academic year, mainly through hands on design, make and test projects.
ICE Members should ask themselves which is more important: engendering an interest among young people in an engineering career or maintaining a network of Local Association Development Officers. These are paid officials who at best will only deliver the same services that enthusiastic volunteers on Local Association committees have hitherto supplied free of charge. I urge Council to think again about this misguided decision.
Mike Gardiner (M), 41 Westcliffe Road, Roker, Sunderland, SR6 9NP