Are our Engineering Institutions fit for purpose and relevant for the 21st Century?

Wednesday 29 March 2017

6.00pm - 9.00pm

Room 1.74, University of Portsmouth, St James Street, Portsmouth, PO1 3AH


This event is organised by the IMechE, with the IChemE, ICE, IET, Royal Aeronautical Society, IOP, IMarEST, Royal Institute of Naval Architects, CIBSE, Institute of Structural Engineers, and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT 

Speakers from the various Professional Bodies

Event details

There are over 50 bodies in the UK that represent different aspects of Engineering, there are 36 separate Engineering Institutions. The diversity and fragmentation of Engineering in the UK means that we are unable to talk as one voice with government, industry, schools and academia. As a profession we are failing to deliver the numbers of Engineers that UK economy requires; compounded with this, the Engineering Council statistics show that total registrations are falling year on year, with even more demographic reductions waiting to impact the figures.

When the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was formed over 160 years ago, its purpose was: ‘To give an impulse to invention likely to be useful to the world’. The inventions that have come from engineers over the past 160 years have had an immeasurable impact on the world we live in today.

Today our mission and our purpose is still defined in a very similar way: ‘To Improve the world through engineering’. Engineering is hugely relevant, as much today as it was 160 years; society depends on engineering in every aspect of our life, energy, transportation, manufacturing, even our food production. Engineering will also be called upon to solve many of the world’s challenges in the years ahead.

As a profession, we have to question whether our Engineering Institutions are fit for purpose and relevant for the 21st Century? They have remained essentially ‘members’ clubs’, funded by members’ subscriptions, for the benefit of the members, but is that model relevant today? Is it cumbersome and bound by self-interest? Is there a better way to organise ourselves? Is there a better way to meet the demands that society will place on Engineering in the years ahead?

To do nothing is not an option, but change will require difficult decisions to be made and different options to be considered.

The challenge is recognised at senior levels within the Engineering Profession and is being discussed and debated. However, it is important for us, as members of these Institutions, that we also debate these issues, understand the challenges we are facing and feedback the opinions and views of our members.

This Question Time Style debate Open to ALL PEIs will provide an opportunity for a number of Leaders of PEIs and their members to raise questions and propose solutions to return the PEIs to relevance and make them fit for purpose again.

It will be interactive with the debate audio-streamed on the internet and the debate started and maintained through social media before the event and continuing through the event.