ICE EngineeringLate draws 600 to hidden world of civil engineering

How do you engage people from all backgrounds with a profession that is still not fully understood?

That's the question being asked by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), as they approach their 200th anniversary, which is being marked by a year of public engagement, debate and 'open doors', planned to demystify and open up opportunities in the industry for everyone.

The answer, it seems, is to literally open your doors to the public, and that's exactly what they did on Friday 22 September, with an evening of music, engineering discussion and interesting talks.

ICE believes that this approach to public outreach, entitled 'EngineeringLate', will help demystify civil engineering and encourage younger people take a closer look at an industry which keeps London running. This latest event saw queues at ICE's One Great George Street headquarters in Westminster, as 600 people from all walks of life made time to visit for an entertaining evening of learning and inspiration.

Visitors were treated to a series of talks on diverse subjects, including water engineering, Engineers without Borders' work on international development, and a photography tutorial to captureLondon's iconic infrastructure.

The main event was a debate on the best infrastructure project of the past 200 years, a subject hotly contested and something that the Institution will be focussing on throughout its bicentennary in 2018. Following an audience vote, Friday's winner was the London sewerage system, which beat London Olympic Transport, the London underground and the Thames Barrier.

ICE's popular tunnel engineering exhibition remained open after-hours, allowing access to special EngineeringLate activities. These included signal demonstrations from Network Rail and a talk by Janet Miller, CEO of Museum of Archaeology, on artefacts discovered during tunnelling.

Guests were also able to enjoy live music and entertainment in the Great Hall throughout the evening.

Suzanne Moroney, Director of ICE London and South East, said: "EngineeringLate is the first of its kind for ICE and was incredibly popular, allowing us to reach a diverse audience, including younger people and those who are considering engineering as a career. Feedback from the public showed that they not only learnt about the importance of civil engineering, but also discovered that it can be a fun and rewarding career."

Further events are planned in the coming months, with a range of 200th anniversary activities beginning in December 2017.