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President, European Council for Construction Research, Development & Innovation

Consulting engineer and former full time academic Dr Scott Steedman expresses a commitment to 'see engineers levered up the ladder of decision making'. Last week he made a major personal contribution to this objective and proved that it is not just British Prime Ministers who chair influential European organisations.

On 1 January Steedman became president of ECCREDI, the European Council for Construction Research, Development & Innovation. But his Brussels tenure does not just run for six months like Tony Blair's but a full two years until 31 December 1999.

Steedman enthuses about ECCREDI's role in representing the entire range of construction professionals and the fact that it will have a major influence over the way Ecu16.3bn (£13.4bn) of European research funds are spent between now and 2003.

ECCREDI is currently co-ordinating 80 research projects across Europe and is the main adviser to the European Commission on research and innovation in construction.

Getting costings right is the essential starting point for engineers to have greater influence, he emphas-ises: 'We need to make costings happen so that politicians can make the right project decisions.'

At 39 Steedman has packed a lot in so far. He was a lecturer at Cambridge from 1983 to 1990 specialising in earthquakes, risks and disasters. With Professor Andrew Schofield he got involved in consultancy work with the US Corps of Engineers and has an ongoing commitment there. This week he was at the Corps' Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, Mississippi helping commission a huge new centrifuge. This was built to 'a very elegant French design' exploiting model testing research concepts developed at Cambridge.

The 'awesome' machine is three times larger than any similar centrifuge and can apply 350g acceleration to its 2t payload.

At home Steedman has just taken on chairmanship of ICE's future framework membership implementation task force.

His day job is international director of engineering at Gibb with worldwide technical responsibility for the consultants' work. He sees population growth outside Europe as the biggest challenge for civil engineers. 'How are we going to build 14 megacities in 10 years? Are we going to build them on the same model as in the past? It is not obvious that we can afford to do it.'

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