Institution news

From Birdcage Walk

Colin Brown, Chief Executive

One Birdcage Walk - IMechE HQ
One Birdcage Walk - IMechE HQ

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

Dear Member,

A quick check on the internet confirms that 2020 vision is standard vision.  It means that you can see at 20 feet (or metres) that which you ought to able to see at 20 feet (or metres).  It is what is expected and anything less would be a shortfall.

As we enter 2020 therefore and embark on our own 2020 operating plan, it is useful to be reminded what is expected of us as engineers.  For followers of ‘From Birdcage Walk’ you know for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2020 is all about our "Year of Values".  It reflects the professional way we should behave in line with our individual professional registrations.  It is a standard, but one we would like to think is above the norm.  We want to be respected for what we do by society and that surely is based on us setting an initially high standard for the way we conduct ourselves.  Anything less would be a shortfall. 

You should therefore expect to see reminders here and in PE Magazine throughout the year of living our values. Listening and understanding, respecting others' opinions, acting with integrity, continuously improving, and ultimately making a difference.  Who as a professional wouldn’t want to do such things?

It is therefore useful to recognise that this week saw the first meeting in the UK of its Citizens’ Climate Assembly.  These are 110 members of the public who have disparate views on human induced climate change.  These are neither experts nor professionals.  The group consists of both ‘believers’ and ‘deniers’.  They are being used by the UK government however to advise it on what would be the impact of public policies towards net zero emissions by 2050.  Achieving this goal is enshrined in UK law, but clearly the changes in behaviour needed to achieve it will not be enforced by the courts but by the willingness of society at large.  This is something where listening and understanding and respecting others opinions will be key to success.

And so this week we issue our first position paper of 2020. "Accelerating Road Transport Decarbonisation" is about alternatives to fossil fuels.  As engineers we can see that alternatives can offer a path to lower carbon emissions and ultimately ‘net zero’.  We make three key recommendations based on our rigorous analysis.  As professionals however we must to go further and see that the acceptance of these recommendations will need to be on the basis of us working with others to acknowledge the weaknesses of the ideas as well as promoting their strengths.  Let’s therefore keep an eye on how well we live our values though those discussions.  Our aim is surely to ultimately make a difference and improve the world through engineering.  The 2020 Year of Values is planned to be our guide to success.

Colin Brown

Chief Executive

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