Are there any great engineers left?
Brunel, Frank Whittle, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee, Nigel Gresley, Henry Bessemer – Britain can boast some of the best-known engineers as its own. But how many great engineers do we have today?
Ian Ling addressed this very issue in his presidential address. Having been with the SOE’s IPlantE professional sector since 1962, Ian will now take on the SOE’s top elected post for 12 months.
Ian said: “For centuries the engineer has been the backbone of society and has been the means by which the world has progressed and developed. But now do we recognise the engineer? Does the average person know what an engineer does in the same way that we know what a bank manager, hairdresser or journalist does for a living?”
During his time in office, Ian will be pushing for all engineers – whether members of the SOE or not – to stand up and be counted, to be proud of their work and say with confidence: “I am an engineer.”
Added Ian: “We, as engineers, fail to blow our own trumpets. Almost everyone knows who Norman Foster is – he’s a great architect – but it was an engineer, Barnes Wallis, who developed the principle that allowed 30 St Marys Axe, or the gherkin as it’s more commonly known, to be built. When you look at it, it’s obvious that the work of engineers touches everybody’s lives and contributes a significant proportion to our economy and quality of life. But without the great names to look up to, who will inspire the next generation to pick up the tools and follow a rewarding career in engineering?”
With the engineering industry already beginning to follow the medical professions need to import skilled labour, the need to promote this field as a valid career couldn’t be stronger.