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From Birdcage Walk

Tony Roche, IMechE President

Institution president Tony Roche
Institution president Tony Roche

The latest in our ongoing series of updates about activities at the Institution.

Dear Member,

‘Anything that’s useful in this world was made by God or engineers’, said the Duke of Edinburgh just a few years ago. Whilst some might want to debate the point, there are significant examples in the past two hundred years of how engineers have changed the world for the better.

The wider world may not always notice it, but engineering is an intrinsic part of life for all and it has helped to shape the history of mankind. Engineering plays a fundamental role in almost every aspect of our daily existence and it will help to define the world for future generations. Throughout history engineers have been there in pivotal moments, often unseen, uncelebrated, but essential to those collective successes with which we mark our societal progress, from the first steam locomotives, to the Moon landings and now to the artificial intelligence revolution.

As we look to the future there is a matrix of lifelong engagement in a range of engineering each of us needs as professionals, but that we also need to meet our duties to society as a whole. These include education, training, research, development, investment in people and facilities, employment competencies and many others. Together these are evidence of the strong links between engineering and what we do as engineers and the society we serve.

Much will depend on each of us and on our peers to be the inspirational engineers of today and tomorrow, to identify new technologies and products that will further enhance the quality of life for one and all. Our engineering experience gifts us the tools we need to have the best chance of succeeding in this fast changing world – namely technical know-how, problem solving and communication skills and we need to recognise and welcome the fact that engineering skills have become more visible and valuable as the digital revolution gathers pace. 

Whilst the 2018 ‘Year of Engineering initiative’ was a Government led campaign to inspire more young people to choose engineering as a career, it was the engineering professionals from Institutions, not civil servants, that created the events to showcase the innovative ideas that will be of great significance in changing our futures for the better.

One key aim should be to capture the interest and imagination of young people, particularly those in their teenage years by introducing them to and engaging them in studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). This is being done through Members and Fellows within IMechE and other institutions with structured talks to schools, or by organising local, interactive, technically based events.

We currently have 3,779 STEM Ambassadors who, through 4,500 activities, have engaged approximately 150,000 school children in 2018 alone. Along with the IET, IMechE has established the Engineering Education Grant Scheme, which has delivered £1.1 million worth of engineering engagement to young people since 2015 - a five-fold return on our own £210,000 investment. 

To build on that proud achievement Members and Fellows, through their voluntary work, either through regional or divisional committees are an essential resource to enable the Institution to play its part in attracting the next generation of engineers into our profession.

Isaac Asimov, an eminent biochemist is quoted as saying ‘The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom’. The engineer Theodore von Karman said ‘Scientists study the world as it is; Engineers create the world that has never been’.

Chartered professional engineers, through the foundations of science will without doubt continue to design and make the things that are useful in this world, all with the aim of improving the quality of life of society as a whole and creating the world that has never been.

Thank you,

Tony Roche

President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

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