On Wednesday Evening I had the pleasure of giving the closing speech at the 16th Annual Awards Ceremony at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Head Quarters in Birdcage Walk, Westminster.
The event is where new members, of all grades, to the Institution receive their certificates from the President Professor Richard Folkson.
The event was well attended with nearly 200 people, so in my closing speech I felt it appropriate to reflect on why it is important and relevant to become a member of a Professional Institution.
Here is the transcript of parts of the speech.
Obtaining membership, at any grade or level, and ultimately becoming a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of any professional engineering institution, is a great personal achievement, and something which you should be very proud of.
Some people, and some fellow workers I am sure, who have not taken the effort to go down this path, may ask, why should I bother, or what is the relevance of it all? After all, we are a self-regulating profession and we don’t need to join a professional institution.
Becoming a member and being a part of a professional institution is hugely relevant and important for any engineer. Not because of the tangible benefits or even the letters after your name when you achieve membership, as important and of great value those things are. When we become a part of the Institution that represents our profession, we are signing up to the whole purpose of what the Institution is all about and values and standards of behaviour that we agree to uphold as a professional engineer.
When the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was formed over 160 years ago, its purpose was: ‘To give an impulse to invention likely to be useful to the world’. The inventions that have come from engineers over the past 160 years have had an immeasurable impact on the world we live in today.
Today our mission and our purpose is still defined in a very similar way: ‘To Improve the world through engineering’
Engineering is hugely relevant, as much today as it was 160 years; society depends on engineering in every aspect of our life, energy, transportation, manufacturing, even our food production. Engineering will also be called upon to solve many of the world’s challenges in the years ahead.
It is therefore relevant and important that we are united together as a profession in this common purpose.
When we become a member of a professional engineering institution, like the IMechE, we sign up to a code of conduct; a set of values that define how we should behave.
Society again will look to engineers, and the Engineering Institutions that they sign up to, to uphold these values and the mission to improve the world through engineering.
To choose not be a part of a body that represents your profession, either because you don’t see it as being relevant, or perhaps more likely, that you can’t be bothered, is, I believe, quite frankly, ‘a cop out’ and a disservice to what engineering is all about.
We must be proud, not only that we are engineers, but we must be proud that we are a part of an organisation with a clear sense of purpose to society, one that is united by common values and standards of behaviour, expected from us by society. The stronger we are as a profession, talking with one voice, the more relevant and respected we will be viewed by society.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Congratulations and well done to you all this evening.