ICE engineering knowledge director, Mark Hansford, reflects on the launch of the Knowledge Hub and outlines plans for 2023.
Our work as civil engineers is key to creating a better future for all. That is not hyperbole.
Our actions are hugely significant in supporting delivery of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the UN recognising that networked infrastructure influences 72% of targets.
Examples are numerous and obvious.
The energy, water and wastewater systems we create, maintain and operate, support essential services, including the ability to produce nutritious food and support healthy, productive and enriched lives.
Our transportation and digital communications systems are essential for enabling access to resources, markets, education, work, culture and participation in governmental decision making.
In recognising our sector’s integral role, the ICE has put supporting delivery of the UN SDGs at the heart of its core purpose.
Supporting CPD with a new framework
There are many ways the institution can help, but one important way is by supporting our members’ ongoing commitment to competence and professionalism through continuing professional development (CPD).
In 2022, with the intention of strengthening this support, the ICE launched a new framework of key CPD topics that professionally qualified members are strongly recommended to engage with where appropriate.
These topics are designed to further enhance the personal learning they undertake as part of their ongoing development.
The initial catalyst for introducing the framework was the ICE's 2018 post-Grenfell, In Plain Sight report.
That report recommended topics covering risk management and public safety, in which engineers must continue to demonstrate competency if they are to play their role in improving society.
However, safety is only one of our challenges as civil engineers, so the framework is broader and includes topics that cover contemporary themes such as digital transformation, decarbonisation and productivity.
A core ICE member benefit
Developed by the ICE Professionalism Panel and in consultation with the ICE’s knowledge networks, a principal priority for the ICE throughout 2022 was to develop and release CPD activities that align the topics in the framework.
These activities are a core part of the ICE member benefit and are made available to all members worldwide via ICE’s online Knowledge Hub.
The hub was relaunched in February 2022 and throughout the course the year, more than 80 modules were created and released in a multi-media format.
This included 40 written knowledge packs, explainers, infographics and case studies, 13 Tech Talk videos and 28 podcasts.
It is hugely encouraging that, over the last year, member engagement has been strong, with modules completed more than 3,000 times.
Just as encouraging is that the most popular have proved to be risk-based modules, such as:
- Understanding Structural Load Paths
- Explaining CDM 2015 and its application
- Explaining Design Risk Management
This very much supports the recommendations from In Plain Sight that CPD content in safety-critical areas be a priority.
The reach of the hub has proved truly global, with around 20% of modules started by members overseas, which is also very pleasing.
Next steps: building on 2022
So, where next?
This year, the ICE knowledge team will be working to deliver new content to the hub in support of the 2023 framework.
For example, modules on the impact of the 2022 Building Safety Act that will explain the enhanced duties of the principal designer and principal contractor when working on high-risk residential buildings.
These will also explain the concept and application of the “golden thread” and other key concepts and terms introduced by the act.
It’s worth stressing though, that the 2022 framework remains valid, and all content in the hub as a result remains equally valid.
This year’s framework seeks to build on 2022, filling in any gaps and responding to emerging themes and legislation.
And, as it did last year, the 2023 framework goes beyond safety and risk-related topics.
It will also address topics including the challenges of inclusive travel design, the opportunities presented by – and limitations of – nature based solutions to flooding, and the potential to develop the use of tidal energy.
Addressing big challenges
These are big challenges but exciting ones, and the content in the Knowledge Hub will seek to bring these topics to life in an engaging way, continuing to make use of several formats.
There will also be a section dedicated to carbon literacy.
While this isn’t formally part of the 2023 framework, the ICE’s Trustees are keen for all members to have access to an ‘entry level’ programme.
This will help ensure all, regardless of experience or previous knowledge, can quickly familiarise themselves with the most important topic of all. The first modules are already live and more will be added through 2023.
The ICE remains firmly committed to supporting its members worldwide with access to high quality learning material, and we hope you find it engaging and informative.
And do share any feedback via [email protected].