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Steedman demands 'engineering tsar'


AN ENGINEERING 'tsar' should be appointed by Government, high profile engineer Dr Scott Steedman demanded this week.

Gibb director Steedman said he wanted the Government to show the same commitment to engineering as it did to architecture when it appointed Broadgate developer Stuart Lipton head of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment last month.

Steedman, who has a parallel career as a presenter of TV engineering programmes, claimed urgent action was particularly needed in the area of information technology. He told an open ICE meeting that someone was needed at Government level to bring people from construction together with strategic thinkers in the electronics and communications industry 'for a cross-pollination of ideas'.

In his lecture, 'engineering solutions to society's needs', Steedman said: 'We are at the beginning of an IT revolution which we tend to think is [just] affecting other industries. But every time new technology comes along infrastructure changes.'

The construction process could also be significantly enhanced, he argued. Fibre optic cables replacing telecommunication wires would lead to a 'staggering' increase in the amount of information that could be carried. Brainstorming was needed to explore how this quantum leap in computing power could be harnessed, he said.

'A massive increase in the amount of information that can be processed could have an enormous impact on the geotechnical community,' said Steedman. Ground could be monitored down to the smallest grain and ground engineering could become like micro-surgery, he added.

Steedman went on to set out his vision of how engineers could deliver sustainable cities with the benefit of new technology. The ability to excavate ground more efficiently could lead to greater use of underground space and less congestion on the surface.

Steedman's lecture marked the visit of ICE president Roger Sainsbury to the ICE's Thames Valley Association.

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