I was interested to see that Mike Casebourne was as ignorant of the details of SARTOR before his appointment as I still am. I was equally appalled at the suggestion that the selection for entry into the profession could ultimately depend on A level results.
It would appear that the responsibility for training and registration of engineers has been hijacked by the academics and that they are adopting criteria totally at odds with the system that served us well over the previous fifty years.
Two events give me cause for concern. I was recently invited to attend a meeting at a local school in connection with career guidance and was disturbed to hear one teacher say that he would recommend engineering to the 'less academic' who were nevertheless 'good with their hands'. I was also concerned to see a letter in your pages last week signed by nine professors of civil engineering, only five of whom were Fellows of the Institution.
If the only remaining access to the profession is to be through these two groups, one of which does not know the difference between an engineer and a mechanic and the other who have so little regard for the Institution that they can reach professional grade without taking Fellowship, then I think Mike Casebourne is right to feel concerned.
Like most older engineers I have worked alongside many very able and talented engineers who came into the profession 'the hard way', by HNC and long years at night school, and I think there still needs to be provision for late entry subject to suitable training and the acceptance by their peers.
If, after reviewing SARTOR, Mike Casebourne is still not happy can I urge him not to set about making it work but to work towards changing it.
Arthur Newton (F), Hegglehead, Hutton Roof, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0XS
I must support Mike Casebourne's views on late developers whose academic abilities at 18 offer very little indication of future ability. The best way to recognise those who either enter the profession later in life or who did not make the right decisions at 18 is to allow flexibility towards all grades of registration through paths
and bridges based on current ability. If Mike is to champion this cause, I for one will be a keen supporter!
Graham Davison-Smith (AM), Graham@schwenck.demon.co.uk
It was welcoming news to read that the SARTOR entry standard for engineers seeking Chartered status on A level points is set to go. There is no solid evidence to suggest that only high A level points (18-24) at entry has produced or will produce competent and first rate engineers. If the Engineering Council wants to check the output standard and the competence of the graduate engineers seeking Chartered status, it ought to follow the example of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians and conduct its own examinations.
Dr B P Sinha (F), 47 Pentland Terrace, Edinburgh EH10 6HD
I have read the recent letters relating to becoming Chartered and academic routes with great interest. I left school with one
A level, but was still able to study for HND and subsequently a degree in civil engineering. I am glad I am not a few years younger, since I would have great problems in progressing.
With regard to becoming Chartered, I am with my third employer in four years and while it has been great experience, it has been very tricky to fit into the sometimes rigid rules governing experience and training. The new layout for the development record and the objectives have been a great help in focusing the mind, but since the Institution recommends a training agreement, it is still somewhat difficult to assess my progress. I would like to suggest that the Institution produces more guidance for those of us not training under agreement - it doesn't necessarily make for a poorer engineer.
Many people have talked about disillusionment with the profession. I myself am a corporate member of another institution, but this does not mean that younger engineers should give up so early.
Higher quality is needed. We should be held in the same regard as other professionals, but I really do think that the Institution should become more active in pushing graduates to progress, especially those not training under agreement. I also believe that qualifications are not as vital as is made apparent. You should be measured on performance, not jumping through hoops to join a club.
Mark Philpotts (G), 46 Elgin Avenue, Harold Park, Romford RM3 0YT