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2020 Smeaton Lecture: The Consulting Engineers

Event organised by ICE

21 July 2020

This event has now ended


The Consulting Engineers. The British consulting engineers who created the world’s infrastructure

With the support of the Smeatonian Society, this lecture has been named after John Smeaton, FRS, the founding father of civil engineering in this country, whose professional standards have provided a model for excellence for all who have followed him.

The lecture was instituted in 1991 to coincide with the evening of Institution’s Annual General Meeting. The lecture is on a theme related to the history and development of civil engineering, of interest to a broad cross-section of the membership and their guests.

The lecture will tell the extraordinary story of British consulting engineers from their early beginnings, through the establishment of the profession in the 18th century, the `Railway Age’ of the 1800s, their post-World War Two international boom and on to the recent commercialisation and consolidation of the industry.

It will explain how these engineers created most of the infrastructure in most of the world for most of the 19th century, and did so again (for the developing world) during the post-war years. It is a remarkable success story, peppered with some spectacular failures.

This will be followed by a 30-minute panel discussion around what lessons have been learned from the past and how they could be used to shape the future of civil engineering.

This is linked to the book: The Consulting Engineers: The British consulting engineers who created the world's infrastructure, published in January 2020 and available from the ICE Bookshop.

The audience of the lecture asked 32 questions, which have been answered in the document below, under 'Download Event Materials.'