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What kind of definition is that?

I was horrified to read of the ICE Council's proposed new definition of civil engineering.

This demonstrates to me that the art of definition, like succinct report writing, cannot be done by a committee, and I cannot imagine how this new 'definition' will reach out to aspiring new engineers – or to the public – that the profession so desperately seeks to enlighten.

To be sure, somewhere in this long and rambling statement lurks such a definition: what is needed is to extract it from the rest of the text, which reads like a job description for a civil engineer.

This precis of the proposal is all that is needed: "Civil engineering is the art of working with the great sources of power in nature for the wealth and wellbeing of the whole of society, to create and maintain a sustainable natural and built environment."

SIMON THOMAS (M), Chaldon, Surrey, sandj.thomas@tiscali.co.uk

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