ICE President's View: first week in the office

This will be a really exciting year for engineers. There's a growing recognition of the role we'll play in shaping the future of the world. But there's also an imperative to do the right thing.

Netherlands 3D printed bridge.
Netherlands 3D printed bridge.
They say that the week is a long time in politics. This first week as president since my inaugural address has started with a bang and gives a snapshot of the varied and fascinating year that lies ahead.

For those of you unable to see or “tune in” to my address last week, I've set out why I believe the future that many people talk of is already here in our industry.

There are so many brilliant innovations in use today that will revolutionise our industry over the coming years - whether using robots for steel fixing or bricklaying, augmented reality, drones for surveys and access, digital twins or even 3D printed concrete bridges - they're all here to stay and will just get easier, faster to use and more accurate and predictable.

These technologies will never be “un-invented” so we have to get behind them and accelerate their use on everyday projects.

However - we should never lose sight of the importance of doing some of the boring stuff well, too.

We have to get the basics right every day - whether that is accuracy of design or quality of construction. getting it wrong can be catastrophic as we see too often around the globe when structures fail - people's lives are put at risk.

As we move towards a new world of off-site manufacture, we can’t afford to build defects into a repetitive process.


ICE Ben Fund

On a more human point - across the industry we've seen a significant growth in mental health issues, whether stress or depression and these have a huge impact on our working lives and the ability of some to hold down a job.

The ICE Benevolent Fund plays a really key role in supporting both current and past members and their families who've fallen on hard times. 

I had the pleasure of visiting the Ben Fund team last week and saw first-hand some of the work they're doing to help those in need - transforming lives in a different way.

They rely on the financial support of our membership to pay for the help and advice they give, so if you can help, your donations would go to a very worthy cause.


President's Future Leaders 2019/2020

Looking to the future - I'm delighted to have selected six brilliant young engineers to work with me on some specific tasks over the next year.

These “Future leaders” are Louise Heatherington, Chris Landsburgh, Holly Smith, Joe Marner, Hayley Jackson and Tim Hou.

I've been incredibly impressed by the amount they've achieved at such an early stage in their careers. They'll be working on an array off ICE activities over the next year, ranging from the creation of the next State of the Nation report on decarbonising the UK by 2050 to various policy insight pieces, future skills requirement, and a sustainability route map post-GEC [Global Engineering Congress].


A note on the general election

Returning to politics (and I promise that's the last time I will mention that word this year) - whatever the result of the elections in December, our industry is going to be challenged to deliver a huge increase in capacity - whether for housebuilding, broadband access to every home, energy supply and distribution, the future of transport, climate change and demographic shifts - the list goes on.

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