DEGREES IN civil engineering need to put 'sustainability at their heart', ICE Council said at its December meeting.
In a debate on the role of the Institution in furthering the practice of sustainable construction, Council agreed that civil engineering education needs to be comprehensively overhauled, with a much greater emphasis on sustainability.
'We need to look fundamentally at the training of engineers and the degrees they need for membership of this Institution, ' said territorial Council member for Glasgow and the West of Scotland Alan Simpson. 'This has to be a matter for mature debate.'
Mark Dyer, a lecturer at Durham University, added: 'Sustainability is at the heart of civil engineering and is the one thing in civil engineering that undergraduates and school leavers can engage with.'
Past president Tony Ridley, who instigated the debate through his paper outlining his experiences at last August's World Summit on Sustainable Development, said: 'A 21st century engineer is not the one I was educated to be in the 20th century. The ICE has part caught up, but it has a distance to go.
'Sustainable development is now absolutely central to civil engineering, and we must organise ourselves accordingly.'
In addition to a revamp of engineering education, Ridley called for an immediate audit of the activities of the ICE's engineering boards to ensure that the ICE is fulfilling its role as a centre of knowledge and best practice.
This view was backed by Council member and environment and sustainability board (E&SB) chairman John Ekins. 'Civil engineers are still seen by many as uncaring philistines, and we have to get a grip on this.
'As chair of the E&SB we have got to get to the point where we don't need an E&SB as it should be at the heart of all boards.'
Council agreed that the issues raised should be formalised and returned for further debate. The issue of sustainability in education will be a key theme of the ICE's inaugural annual conference, to be held in Belfast in June.