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Unsung heroes of the ICE

THE ICE has many roles. Its key objective is in providing services to its members that 'promote the acquisition of that species of knowledge which constitutes the profession of a Civil Engineer'.

Increasingly, it is focusing on raising the profile of both the profession and the Institution itself. Achieving these objectives demands an organisation of great diversity, and a lot of people. But who are they and what do they do? The ICE has a staff of over 200 people, but of these perhaps only two - President George Fleming and chief executive Mike Casebourne - are familiar names. NCE has gone deep inside the labyrinth of the ICE to uncover a few 'unsung heroes'. . .

Claire Delgal Should your call to the library at Great George Street be answered by a voice with a French accent, that is Claire Delgal. She has worked in the library since November 1989, arriving in London from her native France, where she qualified as a librarian, via Scotland where she went to perfect her English.

Her title is assistant librarian, but in addition to the usual library duties she is in charge of the ICE's audio-visual collection. It is not vast, she explains, consisting of around 350 videos and a collection of slides. The video most in demand, she says, shows the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Second is the CPR tape.

August is usually quiet although there are always some visitors. The really busy period is Wednesday afternoon in term time when students descend en masse to research their essays.

But no two days are ever the same she says. There is always something different happening: from an unusual request for information to working on an exhibition. And in addition to her job in the library she is also the secretary to the panel for historical engineering works.

On her last visit to Paris she visited the city's own wobbling bridge, the Passarelle Solferino.

But she is also a long distance traveller. A trip on the TransSiberian Express took her to Beijing where, thanks to ICE contacts, she was able to meet a number of Chinese families. Less ambitiously, she confesses a fondness for the very English country walk which has as its destination a welcoming pub.

Elinor Goodchild Before coming to work at Great George Street, Elinor Goodchild knew little about civil engineering.

Less than two years on, she claims she can see her friends eyes start to glaze over as she enthuses about best value yet again. She works in Engineering, which she describes as 'the learned society of the Institution', and her official title is local government and best value group co-ordinator.

It is something of a change from her previous job where she worked for a statutory body investigating complaints about nurses, and she admits that arriving at the ICE from a profession where senior management was almost entirely female was quite a contrast. But Council has now appointed its first woman vice president, so change is clearly in the air.

Change is very much part of the work of the best value group which is currently looking at procurement strategies for local authorities. It is pioneering work, since very few people have experience of best practice, and she notes with some satisfaction that ICE will almost certainly publish its guidance document before the Department for Environment Transport and the Regions gets its publication out.

In fact she has an excellent rapport with officials at the DETR, which seems likely to become still closer as all the parties wrestle with the details of how this new, Government-prescribed policy is to be put into effect. But all the people she comes into contact with are 'very friendly, helpful and willing to share their knowledge'.

Helen Taylor The ICE is actively looking at new ways to deliver services to members and new techniques to raise the profile of both the profession and the Institution itself.

A key way this will be achieved is through ICEnet, the ICE's website.

Central to keeping the site running smoothly is Helen Taylor, internet project manager for the ICE's trading subsidiary, Thomas Telford. At the sharp end of the team responsible for maintaining the site, she has the job of fielding and resolving user problems from the general public and from the ICE itself, either by providing on the spot solutions or by liaison with the technical team.

Taylor arrived at Thomas Telford in June this year and is enjoying the hectic schedule as well as the challenge provided by her increasing involvement in the technical operation of the website.

The latest challenges are coming in the shape of the planned revamp of ICEnet, including the transformation of Infoshare, the ICE's free e-mail information service, into a web-based facility and providing increased exposure for the Local Associations.

She studied in a civil engineering department and therefore already had a fair idea of what civil engineering was about. However, working with the ICE has broadened her view to appreciate that it is not 'just about buildings'.

She loves to go out in London, but she does confess to enjoying getting out of the city and back to her countryside roots whenever possible. And has she ever received a call for help from someone simply beyond help? Not yet, but then she admits she has not been there long. . .

Judith Berry Judith Berry works in the International Division which is actually housed next door in the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Less convenient, perhaps, but the view over St James's Park is a plus.

Her title is project co-ordinator international and together with three colleagues she is responsible for all administrative activities for overseas members. These can be either members who are working overseas, or nationals of countries outside the UK. Altogether they account for around 20% of the membership.

Her responsibilities are China, Mongolia and South East Asia. This includes Indonesia where she is assisting with accreditation of two universities. ICE members in this new republic are a rare species, but she is in correspondence with one engineer who hopes to set up a system of training and qualification that will be recognised by the ICE. She is also deputy secretary of the Commonwealth Engineers Council.

After graduating in civil engineering she worked in a couple of high profile consultancies before deciding that her future lay in administration. She has now been at the ICE for just over two years.

'As a member I never crossed the threshold of Great George Street, but would now encourage all members to pay a visit.'

She says that not only are there interesting lectures, meetings and visits, but as an employee she has met MPs, leaders of industry and young professionals from across the Commonwealth. 'I could have done that as a member if I had become involved in Institution activities.'

Although her work is international, her hobby - Scottish country dancing - takes her travelling as far as Japan.

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