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From Birdcage Walk

Andy Webster, Current Member of Council and Fellow

IMechE HQ
IMechE HQ

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

Dear Member,

I remember walking into main works at Rolls Royce. I was almost 16 years old. I was sure that I wanted to grow up to be an architect. Until that moment. Seeing up close how engineers worked to stop metals melting in the jet engines. How they overcame manufacturing challenges to form a single crystal blade. How they tested parts to prove they wouldn’t fail in flight. I was hooked.

And here I am, 20 years later, a Fellow of our Institution, and deeply passionate about creating similar moments for would-be engineers around the world.

In fact, I’ve yet to meet a member of our Institution that isn’t passionate about this. Showing what we do. The problems we solve. The skills we have. The cool technology we ‘play’ with. We love to show this stuff off, and through it, create that spark of inspiration in young girls and boys. A spark we hope takes them on a journey into our profession.

The brutal truth is we need them. We need more and more engineers, to solve more and more problems that are worth solving. The biggest and closest to my heart is how to bring energy to billions of energy poor citizens of the world without adding to the already dangerous high levels of greenhouse gases.

Inspiring, and developing these future engineers is for me the core mission of our Institution. I worry that with the organisational, financial and leadership concerns of the past year or so, we risk forgetting this. But we mustn’t.

I’ve had the privilege to work alongside a number of volunteers for our Institution. From young members where together we created the international arm of the young members’ board, to Council, and working to facilitate their discussions. I’ve attended Trustee Board meetings and local Region meetings and seen the hard work we’re all putting in to make this Institution function; to deliver on that promise to future engineers.

And yet when we come to choose key engineering leaders for positions like President, Trustee  Board, and members of Council, we seem to disconnect. Each year, voting is around 10 to 14% of us. Almost 9 out of 10 choose not to participate. Maybe we’ve not explained the process well enough? Maybe the individuals we’re electing feel too far from our local activity? Or maybe we’ve not thought about it before.

I hope that despite the challenges of the past year, we as the members come out and really vote. We read the statements those standing have put together. We consider who best represents the particular focus that we would like to see. And we take the 30 or so minutes that it requires to use this information to go and vote.

I know I’ve found myself frustrated, annoyed, maybe even disconnected over the past few months. But when I remember my 16 year old self, I’m glad there are still engineers giving their time to help kids like me learn and discover.

And so I choose to support our Institution and make my vote count in putting forward the team I believe best can navigate the next 12 months.  Whatever your views, I encourage you to do the same so that together we create an engineering profession that continues to inspire.

Thank you,

Andy Webster

Current Member of Council and Fellow

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