Modern infrastructure projects need skills that don't currently have a professional home.
The proposed ‘Chartered Infrastructure Engineer’ title is an opportunity to future proof the civil engineering profession, said ICE President Ed McCann at a recent online discussion.
“The skills needed for working on infrastructure projects are rapidly evolving and we now have a chance to embrace all of those who are focused on infrastructure, not to dilute what we do but to enhance it and ensure we are future proofing the profession,” he said.
The comments were made ahead of a ballot at which ICE trustees are seeking approval from members to introduce a new Chartered Infrastructure Engineer title.
Public demands that engineers working in infrastructure are professionally qualified
“The public are demanding the assurance that engineers working in this infrastructure space are professionally qualified,” said ICE past President Paul Jowitt at the event.
He noted that the skills needed on a modern infrastructure project may come from overlapping disciplines, and that ICE needs to recognise this and respond by welcoming engineers that have these additional skillsets and specialist knowledge.
The Chartered Infrastructure proposal, he said, will enable the ICE and its members to do exactly this.
Trustee Andy Alder, who is Tideway’s programme manager, added that the “delivery of new infrastructure needs specialist engineers in a wide range of disciplines, many of which do not fit into existing professional engineering institutions”.
Alder highlighted that this need is apparent now and can only be expected to grow as the complexity of the world increases and we face big challenges such as climate change, urbanisation and changing demographics.
Jowitt concluded: “We need to welcome [these engineers] into the ICE through the front door as fully qualified Chartered Engineers - approved by the Engineering Council just like the rest of us - and with complementary skillsets, their skillsets as valid as our own in a modern infrastructure setting.”
In response to questions about safeguarding ICE’s gold standard status, Jowitt clarified that the standards for Chartered Infrastructure Engineer will mirror the same gold standard and rigorous processes that Chartered Civil Engineers are held to and overseen by the Engineering Council and licensed to ICE to deliver.
Frameworks will be delivered, he said, that will ensure that “only those who are able to demonstrate the highest levels of professional competence and expertise will be able to qualify”.
Furthermore, Alder explained that while anyone with an Engineering Council accredited degree would be eligible, “the individual must be able to contextualise their skillset in the frame of an infrastructure project”.
The panel highlighted that this is a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to position ICE as the home of not just civil engineers, but of professionally qualified engineers who are relevant to any and all aspects of modern infrastructure.