After reading ICE considers degree course revamp (NCE 7/14 August) I would like to make some comments based on my experiences in the UK. I studied engineering and science in Australia, so I cannot claim much knowledge of the UK university system, but engineers seem to get typecast much earlier in the UK.
Maximum flexibility should be provided at university, so potential career engineers can experience the many fields of civil engineering, hopefully thereby finding at least one that interests them. It is interesting to debate whether a specialised degree will make a better civil engineer than a broader course, which would result in an engineer with a better view of the whole project.
It frustrated me in my first job (in the UK) to find it nearly impossible to rotate into a different division. When searching for another job, I was told that employers would already have typecast me, despite having only graduated a year ago! My university results, ability to learn and aptitude for problem solving seemed to have less relevance than I would have hoped.
Offering young engineers more flexibility to try different fields of civil engineering can only help them gain better experience and, very importantly, keep more graduates in engineering.
Penelope Bennett (G), pentouch@hotmail. com