Update from the President: 25 January

Published: 25/01/2017

Ian Firth provides members with an update on his first month as President.

After the excitement of my inauguration and first Institution Board meeting as Chair, it has been an interesting couple of weeks getting my knees under the metaphorical (and actual) President's desk and starting the discussions around some of the issues I believe we need to address. 

I attended the inauguration of Stephen Wilkinson as the President of the RTPI, and have held very helpful meetings with the Presidents of the RIBA (Jane Duncan) and the ICE (Prof Tim Broyd) and others. There seems to be considerable scope for the co-ordinated approach I referred to in my inauguration aimed at tackling procurement processes to improve design quality and reduce construction risks - watch this space.

This week I made my first official Regional Group visit. First up was the Southern Region, and I started with a visit to Portsmouth University where I met with students and spoke to them about the excitement of engineering structures, hopefully leaving them with a clearer idea of the possibilities afforded by being a structural engineer. There was certainly an excited buzz, and several were logging on to the Institution website to sign up as free Student Members!

I then met with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Graham Galbraith, himself a building physics engineer, and had interesting discussions about the implications of Brexit, university research, the breadth of the teaching syllabus, the new Government Green Paper on Industrial Strategy and other things.  

Then it was on to Winchester for the inauguration of Saprava Bhattacharya as the new Chairman of the Southern Regional Group.  It was great to meet with a number of members and to hear about the issues that concern them.  It was also a privilege to meet and present prizes to two award-winning students, Jesmer Kanvar and George Bailey who have performed exceptionally in their second year structures modules; two young members to keep an eye on. After that it was an excellent dinner and then home late by train. (Thank goodness it was South West Trains and not Southern Rail or I would probably still be there!)

I am building an even greater awareness than I had before of the vital and inspirational work that our members do, and the wide variety of that work, day in day out.  It truly is a privilege to be in this position and I can see that I am going to enjoy this year enormously.

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter and send me questions if you wish. I won't guarantee to reply on every occasion, but I would welcome honest, helpful and stimulating feedback from members or would-be members during these next 11 months or so. 

Watch out for my forthcoming monthly call-out of anniversaries of interesting structures. I am going to start with the 120th anniversary of structures completed in 1897 shortly, and then do a set every month jumping ten years at a time to finish with 10-year-old structures in December.  Should be fun!


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