NEW ICE president Professor Adrian Long this week set out an ambitious seven-point plan to help the Institution deliver quality and value to its members.
Delivering his presidential address at the ICE on Tuesday night, Long called for action in education, research and professional development to ensure the profession can attract and retain the qualified engineers that it badly needs.
Revamping the routes to ICE membership is Long's top priority. He wants to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy that deters engineers from becoming members, especially early in their careers.
'Much remains to be done to break down barriers which have developed inexorably over the years, ' said Long. 'We need to be seen as much more customer focused and send out a clear message that we are a welcoming Institution.'
'An essential ingredient is the development of much simpler procedures which are clearly defined, so that young graduates can fit in their preparation for the professional review while meeting their professional challenges at work, ' Long said.
He wants to set up a panel of experienced reviewers drawn from the ICE regions who would appraise people within a year of graduating on the basis of a standardised CV. The reviewers would advise on the best way forward, and could also advise those close to professional review on whether to proceed or delay.
Long hopes that the clarity this would bring to the qualification process will also attract specialists in allied fields and help overcome the common perception that becoming a member of ICE is more difficult than for other professional bodies.
Research is Long's passion and his second priority. The passion comes from a career devoted to teaching and research at Queen's University Belfast, and he becomes only the 7th ICE president to be involved in full-time education and research.
'For well over 30 years I have been involved in research which is directly relevant to the construction industry, ' said Long.
'I wish to take this opportunity to emphasise the need for an enhanced commitment from the profession and this Institution in the future.'
Long urged members to contribute to the ICE's Research & Development Enabling Fund (an opportunity to contribute comes with the annual subscription notice). Established in 1991, every £1,000 invested sees 10 times that amount contributed by government and industry.
'With a leverage factor of at least 10:1, this is an opportunity we should not miss over the course of the coming year, ' said Long.
'I will be encouraging members to increase their voluntary contributions in this area.
'If more members contributed and some increased their donations we could double the funds available to £150,000, ' he said. 'This would give rise to £1.5M worth of research which is of direct relevance to our profession and would give a clear indication to the government of our commitment to research.'
Getting more practical design experience into university civil engineering courses is Long's third priority.
'Over recent years I have observed from joint projects with architecture students that their courses, which are heavily project based, engender a greater degree of creativity than is generally the case for engineering students, ' he said.
Long wants to use the extra year provided by MEng degrees as the catalyst for industryorientated project work. This would be used to teach all aspects of design, covering management, project delivery, the environment and sustainability.
Construction methods, health and safety and risk assessment would also be taught in this way.
As a benchmark, Long cites the annual ICE Team Build competition (NCE 25 April).
Long is committed to tackling the skills shortage in construction, and his fourth priority is for the ICE to give full support to the inter-institutional skills shortage taskforce established earlier this year.
Long's final objectives are well established priorities of the Institution: to excel in its role as a learned society, to enhance the profile of civil engineers, and to review its management structure.
'As president it is clear that I, acting on my own, can effect very little change to the ICE in my year of office, ' said Long.
'Some issues will, of necessity, take more than one year to resolve.'
For this reason, explained Long, it has been agreed that from this year onwards succeeding vice-presidents will operate as a 'relay team', with the unfinished business of one president picked up by his successors.
'I have always found that with the support of a good team, you can enjoy success, ' said Long.