International Engineering Ambassadors
Insight into the life & course of international students.

Monday, 13 March 2017

ICE President Visit and Open Discussion on The Future of Engineering

By Muhammad AB Zainudin

For the last 200 years, The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has been one of the world’s leading civil engineering groups. Thomas Telford, a pioneering engineer, was the first president of ICE. ICE is responsible for providing support to the best civil engineers, which ranges from legal advice to practical guidance. In addition to this, they inspire young people and support young engineers to pursue their dreams. The current president of ICE is Professor Tim Broyd, the Director of UCL Institute for Digital Innovation in the Built Environment. He is the 152nd President of ICE and successor to Sir John Armitt.

I received an email from Civil Support about a month ago, regarding an event hosted by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) on 2nd March 2017. The topic under discussion and the fact that the speaker was the ICE President was a big pull for me. In addition to this, transport and food would also be covered by the university. So without hesitation I filled in the form, as only the first 12 lucky students would be guaranteed a place.

The event began at 7pm with a networking session where I had the opportunity to interact with a group of high school students. They asked me and my colleagues why we chose Civil Engineering and whether we enjoyed it. We told them we loved it, gave them some advice regarding the world of engineering and also advised them to keep their options open with regards to all branches of engineering. The networking session ended at 7.30pm when we were allocated into groups so we had the opportunity to mingle with people from a variety of backgrounds.

The first topic we discussed was the relevance of ICE. Our table had quite varied opinions from the younger engineers compared to the senior members of the group. The young engineers were of the opinion that industries were ignoring qualified engineers, affiliated with legitimate institutions and instead taking up unqualified engineers. They felt that it was unfair for students who spent money and time to complete their courses and exams compared to with those who don’t. We all agreed that ICE should clearly state the benefits of the courses, review the importance of certain courses and attract more young engineers.

The second topic discussed, was about the competition between small and large companies. ICE is concerned about small companies and how they are coping with the rising larger companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Network Rail. We started by listing down all the pros and cons on each side, with small companies having the advantage of reacting faster to problems and provide holistic training for fresh graduates while bigger companies tend to have specialised workers and they may treat them as numbers rather than human beings. People may not realise this but based on the experiences from a few of the engineers around the table, people may see large companies as a cohesive unit but in reality there may be  a lack of communication within the huge number of departments. We concluded that small companies can still survive and be competitive due to their advantages in certain areas.

The final topic was how new software technology is affecting the role of engineers. We realised that the technology of software has increased rapidly in the last 10 years. Engineers rely on software to make faster and more precise calculations and even the students are able to take benefit using Autodesk Revit and MATLAB amongst others. However, we must continue to be aware that engineering calculations are incredibly important to our inventions, designs and ultimately the industry. Someone will always be liable for errors, regardless as to whether it is from hand calculations or software.

The day ended with a motivational speech delivered by Professor Tim Broyd. He expressed his opinions on the future of engineering and it really inspired me. At the end of the evening , we had the opportunity to take a picture with him and ask several questions. 

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