ICE President calls on members to ‘open our doors’ to a broader membership

Sir John Armitt urged members to grasp the opportunity to widen their knowledge and collaborate with a wider range of built environment professionals in the upcoming broadening vote.

Sir John Armitt said that giving access to a broader range of built environment professionals would be of mutual benefit to the Institution and its members.
Sir John Armitt said that giving access to a broader range of built environment professionals would be of mutual benefit to the Institution and its members.

Next month, ICE members will vote on a proposal to broaden the Associate Member grade to encompass a wider range of allied professionals. Sir John Armitt recently gave his viewpoint on why he thinks members should vote in favour of the proposals.

One of the themes of his Presidential year has been to explore the opportunities that broadening of ICE's membership base offers to the Institution and its members. In his viewpoint piece for June's New Civil Engineer magazine, he acknowledged the value of membership to engineers but pointed to the many other professionals who spend their whole careers contributing to the creation of infrastructure.

Many of these, he said, may never seek to qualify as engineers but would value and benefit from a closer relationship with the ICE. He pointed to projects such as Crossrail, Thames Tideway and the Queensferry Crossing which rely not only on the expertise and ingenuity of civil engineers and technicians, but also from other professionals including lawyers, planners, architects and project managers.

He said giving access to this broader range of built environment professionals would be of mutual benefit to the Institution and its members, offering the prospect of extending professional networks as well as offering access to the very widest knowledge pool. It was this he said, that would allow members to be the best at what they do.

Opening ICE's membership, he said would increase cross discipline collaboration, deepen our collective pool of knowledge; and in turn we will be more relevant to society and more influential."

He also drew on the example of Dr Philipp Grünewald, a Research Fellow at Environmental Change Institute who recently co-authored our flagship electricity storage report, Earlier this year, he gave evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee on ICE's behalf, supporting our goal to provide independent, expert opinion across the political spectrum, and to inform the debate.

Acknowledging his expertise and knowledge, Sir John pointed to Phil as someone whom ICE would like to welcome into the Institution. He said he was pleased that ICE have recently recognised him with an ICE Fellowship, but pointed out that it would not have been possible to bring him into the membership without this, despite the fact that he is vastly qualified, continually adds value and greatly enrichens ICE's knowledge base.

Dr Grünewald, echoed Sir John's call for cross discipline working. He said:

"As a German trained engineer I have found the categorisations into different types of engineers in the UK to create conceptual boundaries where methodologically we have a lot in common."

He spoke of his journey to becoming an engineer and welcomed Sir John's call for a wider membership base:

"I myself have taken a long, varied and stimulating journey, which engineering has afforded me. This stretched from the cutting edge in the semiconductor industry, to strategic energy infrastructure considerations. I trust that many prospective members of ICE will have similarly stimulating backgrounds from which our community can benefit.

At the University of Oxford we recognise the disciplinary breadth, which is required to address the major challenges of the 21st century."

He signalled his support for the proposals saying "A broadening of the membership base of ICE would be consistent with the need to engage the wealth of knowledge and experience engineering has to offer, especially in relation to increasingly complex infrastructure challenges."

ICE Members eligible to participate will be sent information on how to vote in the ballot which takes place for six weeks from 1st June.