The Institution of Structural Engineers – The Keystone in a Structural Engineer’s Career Arch

Published: 30/01/2017

Chairman’s Welcome 2017

When I say it is a privilege and an honour to represent our Regional Members for 2017 I can assure you this is heartfelt. I clearly recollect receiving my Chartered Membership (the Part 3 in old money) notification letter, tapping the unopened letter many times on the kitchen table, fearful and excited about the result. Would the examiner find a fault with my concept approach, with the letter that requires careful narrative, with my hand drawing, or perhaps with the sample element calculations, all clearly scribbled down in haste? Would I fall foul of not thoroughly reading the question properly, or simply selecting the wrong question? I worried from the minute I put my pen down at Queen’s University until receiving my letter from HQ.

My grammar school examinations and results were clearly an important Springer stone in the career arch, but I could not yet relate these ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels to anything tangible. A third level degree is of course a Voussoir stone. With a sandwich year included, I started to visualize what real work life in a team and what real engineering problems look like, but my degree certificate would not yet close the arch. I now know that by pausing for an hour before opening the envelope demonstrated that this exam really mattered. I had dedicated six months of revision, including tackling twenty test papers to best prepare myself. My first mock exam attempts demonstrated that taking over two days to complete one question was not going to cut it. Colleagues warned that this would be seven days’ work in seven hours, and so it was.

Whilst tapping the envelope the letter inside dropped, and I could see the header with the word Pass. I am not ashamed today to tell you there were tears of both relief and joy. This result mattered, the Keystone in the arch was complete, and from here on this completed career structure now needed to be put to good use.

My Chairman’s Address, Structural Engineering – A Wonderful Adventure, on Friday 3rd March will present what followed over the 16 years since gaining MIStructE and the Regional Committee will warmly welcome you.

I would also appreciate your support with our 2017 programme of events, focusing this year on design and construction.

Turning to why I invest time and energy to our Institution, well this is best summed up in this short statement I recently read in The Rhythm of Life: Living Everyday with Passion and Purpose, by Matthew Kelly.

“The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own. The people around them make them great. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves.”

I look forward to meeting you soon and to learning about your Structural Engineering adventures.

Richard Nicholl

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