It’s a curious and challenging feeling to realise that I will be President of the Institution in less than four months. The run-up as a Trustee, Vice, then Deputy President happens over several years and the immediacy of the final role only comes into sharp focus in the final six months.
What an exciting time, following in the footsteps of esteemed predecessors – particularly Naomi Climer, our first female president. However, I intend to step a little off the established path by including in my mission, a development of the cross-disciplinary engineering theme that lies at the heart of the IET’s current remit. The IET has used a jigsaw puzzle visual to capture this in the publicity for my inaugural lecture.
I have a mental picture of the IET as a ‘comb-shaped’ institution. The model has a broad ‘back’ (the cross-disciplinary bit) with distinct ‘teeth’ (the individual disciplines we cover). These teeth are still centred on electrotechnology, and as the only Institution with this focus, we must ensure we are providing a professional home for colleagues with specialisms in and around electrical and electronic engineering. However, the broad back of the comb can and does connect adjacent teeth, providing an unparalleled capability to support 21st century engineering, and the careers of both industrial and academic engineers. The IET Academy will provide an exciting and developing ‘back’ infrastructure to do this.
As well as developing our membership’s understanding and engagement with cross-disciplinarily, I am keen to continue Naomi Climer’s diversity agenda, and to broaden it by adding inclusivity. By this I mean acknowledging that ‘A’ level subjects other than the traditional ones associated with STEM have value in preparing an individual for an engineering undergraduate course. Our discipline will be enriched by a broader engagement. This has been shown to work in a number of esteemed places of learning.
Concerning academia, the IET needs to engage more deeply with practicing researchers and lecturers. We are, through sematic web technologies, innovating in the processes of providing professional services for them, and this highlights the IET’s value propositions for academics. Re-invigorating the ‘learned society’ will be an important part of this.
The IET has restructured itself through recent governance changes – we will have, in addition to the Membership and Professional Development and Knowledge Services Boards, the Volunteer Engagement Board, which together will form an inclusive and empowered Council membership. This will provide much closer links to members, activities and central governance, which will strengthen our Institution and its effectiveness in the international engineering community and society at large.
The IET (and the IEE before it), has given me a great deal, and I hope I have returned something to the Institution. Certainly, for the year from October, I will be in a position to give back a fair bit more. I look forward to working with members and staff as a joined-up team, delivering to the Engineering profession.