Annual Review 2013
When I started my year, my foremost aim was to encourage engineers to raise their heads, be a little less modest, and speak out with pride about how our profession makes the world a better place. Our Institution is central to this dynamic argument.
With membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers rising to 106,277, a 4.4% increase over the previous year, 2013 must go down as the year when the Institution was firmly cemented as the leading body for professional registration in the UK. But more than this, with over 20% of our members based permanently outside the UK, and many more undertaking extended sojourns overseas, the Institution can genuinely claim to be a worldwide community with a truly global perspective on engineering.
Around the world, engineers and employers alike value membership of the Institution, and the benefits that professional registration can bring to a member’s career or a company’s business. Ensuring that the value and benefit remain significant for our members requires constant innovation to deliver globally accessible and relevant services and support.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, during 2013 the Institution proved itself to be an effective innovator, looking to improve its service to members by embracing technology. For example, 7,171 people are now using our online career development tool for continuous professional development (CPD) and our report, Global food: waste not, want not was downloaded 176,024 times in the first week it was released. 26% of CEng and 70% of Associate applications are now received electronically. We go into 2014 with a new Knowledge Transfer offering which aims to maximise the impact of our unique lectures and seminars, using technology, blogs and webinars to serve a global audience.
In these changing and challenging times, I am proud to say that the Institution is proving dynamic, responsive and current.
Our priority was not only to increase the number of members but also the diversity. There were 2,619 new registrants in the grades of Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer and Engineering Technician. The number of Engineering Technicians elected to the Institution has grown from 104 in 2009 to 526 in 2013, demonstrating the inclusivity and relevance of the Institution for all grades of members.
Our focused approach to international growth is proving successful with 21,264 international members and a 15% increase in international volunteers. We are tailoring our approach to different markets, thanks to our increased local knowledge and presence. In India, we have focused on facilitating professional development and reactivating membership of highly qualified engineers.
The challenge for 2014 will be how to harness the knowledge of our international engineers to share across the world, and the key will be our innovative and effective use of technology. To underpin this, we have made considerable investment in our IT systems and will continue to do so.
One area where we have more to do, in common with the profession as a whole, is in encouraging more women into engineering. Despite a small rise in female applications, only 10% of all new elections last year were of women, meaning that the total number of female members now stands at 7% of the total membership. However, I was delighted to be able to recognise the achievements of so many high achieving female students at the Vision Awards: in particular, the Whitworth Visionary and Young Member Visionary were both inspirational women, while for the first time ever, the Apprentice of the Year and the two runners-up were all women.
There were more than 1,000 regional events throughout 2013, which reflected the diversity of engineering today. Large multinationals, SMEs and universities all actively participated and encouraged members to find out more and even visit their workplaces. The members are kept informed and updated with regional and sector-specific newsletters, enabled by regional and London-based staff and improved IT systems.
During the year I have had the pleasure of visiting many inspiring companies and engineers, which have made me proud to represent them. Whilst the flagship companies often lead the way on technology, innovation and career development, there are a multitude of smaller companies who are world-class in their chosen field, and who have not only weathered the economic hardships, but flourished. On a recent visit to Eminox, I witnessed a unique combination of good market understanding, innovative technology and great design capability. I feel strongly that we must support SMEs to become large, internationally competitive employers of the future and have taken great pleasure in seeing them focus on skills and development in a proper, practical, industrial sense.
I am delighted that over the course of the year, so many members or companies shared success stories which showed how they were proud to be engineers or part of the wider family of engineering.
It was an exciting year for the Institution; we’re getting noticed, we have the ear of Government, and we have an important message on current engineering topics. We have not only been reacting to events, such as rail crashes, natural disasters and fracking, but also setting the engineering agenda.
Our reports on food waste, graphene, energy and transport policies were the starting point for debate in engineering, industrial and political circles, both nationally and internationally. Our key objectives remain disseminating this knowledge and sharing of best practice, and our programme of commercial seminars, lectures and conferences experienced a 5% growth in what is a changing and challenging market. In 2014, I look forward to seeing the delivery methods and content that the new Knowledge Transfer team will be considering to increase the depth and breadth of the impact of these activities.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has secured its position as the credible and trusted voice on engineering matters. We are being approached to provide expert knowledge, help media outlets communicate engineering stories accurately and bring out the engineering perspective. This puts us in an unprecedented position to raise the profile of engineers within our society. Without engineers we cannot build a strong economy, nor build the large-scale infrastructure projects needed to revitalise our transport, energy and manufacturing industries. I believe that by being forthright and active in the media we are raising the profile of the Institution and engineering.
I passionately believe that every single person in engineering should be more vocal about the way in which they improve the world – where people have done this, it really works. Be proud: we owe it to future engineers.
The Institution, along with other professional engineering bodies, is a powerful voice within STEM education. Notable successes this year include the reform of the apprenticeships and the Design and Technology curriculum. Bloodhound remains a fantastic vehicle – both in the literal sense and for our education activities. I remember being amazed and inspired by the lunar landings, and hope we can produce a similar feeling of awe and inspiration with Bloodhound. The education toolkit for Bloodhound has already been used to provide a coherent, exciting message to 9,000 school children; and there are plans to expand the teaching kit to reach 60,000.
I was inspired by a recent visit I made to Denbigh High School in Bedfordshire to meet a culturally diverse group of secondary school students. Having given a cut down version of my Presidential Address, Proud to be an Engineer, it was humbling to receive such enthusiastic and heart-felt feedback from the students, many of whom had never met an engineer before or knew much about engineering.
The comments of a year 10 student, Mobin, summed up why it is so important that we go into schools and enthuse pupils about engineering. He said: “Great…amazing… or a combination of both, the speech by Patrick was an eye opener, for me. Before the speech the word engineer would only bring spanners and car mechanics to my mind, but how narrow-minded I was. Engineering is such a broad subject and has kept me thinking about another career option I would like to carry out in my life. It supplies help in various ways and is perfect for a creative mind. Everything within the speech was new information. It was a great educational, as well as beneficial, speech.”
There’s a real energy about the Institution. We’ve come so far, and we owe it to our current and future members to stay ahead of the game. New technology is bringing great opportunities for sharing information and networking; and the Institution is seizing the initiative.
I want to say a big thank you to the Chief Executive, Stephen Tetlow, and all our employees– they’ve done a fantastic job through 2013. Likewise, the efforts, work and endeavours of members and volunteers all around the world are terrific. I am pleased to see the Institution, of which I am so honoured to be the President, lead the profession by talking positively and proudly about what we do. I think it’s a fantastic time to be in engineering.
Professor Patrick Kniveton
President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers