The latest in our ongoing series of updates about activities at the Institution.
There can be no doubt that engineers have greatly improved our quality of life. Back in 2009 our then President, Keith Millard, gave a talk at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London about the need to celebrate much more publicly what engineers have achieved. His idea gained the support of others and ultimately contributed to the creation of the international Queen Elizabeth prize for engineering announced in 2011. This £1 million prize is now awarded every other year and this week saw its fourth cycle being completed. As you’ll see from their website, the winners so far have been responsible for the internet, for controlled drug delivery, for digital imaging and now for the global positioning system. It’s hard to imagine life without any of these. They are true examples of our own Institution’s vision to be ‘improving the world through engineering’.
A quick look at the winners however shows that even though they are reasonably international, all fourteen of them so far have been men. It somewhat reflects the world of 20 or more years ago when their inventions needed to start to have the impact they have today, but it also reminds us how much more we should celebrate when we see the first woman being recognised hopefully soon. At the IMechE, we are proud to be the leading institution in that we have had three female Presidents, but all of these have come in the last 22 years; there were none for 150 years before that.
Our Equality and Diversity Steering Group still therefore needs to have many initiatives to try to recognise the challenges of working in a male-dominated profession. Most recently it has just launched free online diversity and inclusion training. The course is available to all members and volunteers of the Institution, but as there are a limited number of training sessions available, they will allocate the places on a first-come first-served basis. You can register your interest if you would like to take part.
Finally, we had a great email this week that basically said "you talk about improving two-way communication but you never say anything". It summed up our challenge of needing to know what is on your minds. We think that the majority of you just want to hear how we are working to develop engineers and to promote engineering - the core purposes of our Royal Charter. It might of course be there are other engineering or governance issues where you want to know what we are doing. We are therefore keen to open up the chance for you to speak first with your own perspective on a topic. We have already asked a couple of you to think about writing for our website and/or for PE Magazine on topics where you want to suggest a better way forward. It could be about the way we work, or indeed anything engineering-related. The pieces need to be constructive, of course, but we are keen to open up the offer to whoever has an analysis they would like to share. It goes to the heart of our role as a forum “to promote the development of mechanical engineering and to facilitate the exchange of information and ideas thereon”; we look forward to sharing what you have to say. If you are interested, texts about the length of this article - 600 words- are ideal. We will of course let you know how it goes.
Chief Executive (Interim)