ICE Shropshire branch looks to the next 25 years

ICE Shropshire branch celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special event, Innovation-the next 25 years, at Shrewsbury’s Shirehall where a panel of speakers, chaired by incoming President Professor Tim Broyd, did some horizon gazing on what’s in store for the built environment over the next quarter of a century

Panellists and Shropshire members with celebration cake
Panellists and Shropshire members with celebration cake

Professor Broyd shared a platform with Jamie Randall, CTO of Malvern-based IASME (a Worcestershire based cyber standards organisation) who has a background leading cyber security and legal projects; Gill Hamer, director of Marches LEP, and Daniel Rawle, asset management consultant at Atkins.

Presentations in the Shropshire County Council Chamber
Presentations in the Shropshire County Council Chamber

Professor Broyd's presentation looked back from a time within living memory where engineers used slide rules to make calculations, to the advent of the BIM 3 digital revolution. He cited Shropshire's world heritage site at Ironbridge as an example of how, using latest techniques, the refurbishment of the historic bridge parts can now be undertaken using a desk study. The study, undertaken by Ramboll consulting engineers, generated detailed surface model and BIM-ready components from laser scan data.

One of Broyd's prediction for the future was that the role of engineers would be 'providing a service, not a piece of infrastructure.'

Daniel Rawle's presentation looked at where we were in asset management - silo working; little structured investment planning; limited aims and objectives; no tools to measure where we were going. He then looked at the current position where there is: a formal asset management framework; embedded asset management thinking; a needs based budgeting supported by asset life cycle plans; effectively using data to inform investment decisions.

He gave examples of some positive futuristic innovations which have now become commonplace such as LED street lighting, and sensors on pavers which can provide a full, accurate and real-time record of what has been laid down, where, when and to what standard.

Jamie Randall, gave his view from an IT perspective. Looking back to 1991, with slow dial-up modems and mainframes, the hyper-connectivity we have today could not have been predicted. We are now more aware of the risks, but much of our hardware has been designed without cyber-threat in mind. Jamie predicted that in the future, as we start to build security in to systems at the very beginning, his role will become obsolete.

Gill Hamer followed up with the economic challenges of the Marches LEP. How the region faces skills gaps and ageing workforce and non-commercially viable employment sites. She focused on current schemes tackling infrastructure and vocational skills including the £72m transport infrastructure project covering three urban centres; the Telford land deal with up to 2,800 new homes and 8,500 jobs created and the Hereford enterprise zone with a focus on defence and cyber security.

A new £67.9m growth deal submitted in July 2016 would provide a new model in technology and engineering at a new university in Hereford. Announcements on this and other projects would be given in this year's autumn statement on 23 November.

Yvonne Aust, newly inaugurated West Midlands regional chair and chair of the Shropshire branch said:

"We were proud to bring Shropshire members this extra special event and welcome ICE's incoming President Tim Broyd, to our region. Shropshire has a great engineering heritage and is home to two major innovations - the first skyscraper and the world's first iron bridge. We are glad to have seized this opportunity in celebration of our 25 years as a regional branch to lead the discussion and join Shropshire engineers looking towards the next 25 years."