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Oct 29 2007 22:39
Nick Simpson
As civil engineering students we are in the fortunate position of being eligible to join two great institutions, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Institute of Structural Engineers (IStructE)

You can join both instutiions, for free, online. Becoming a student member allows you to take advantage of events and facilities that as a graduate, you would have to pay for. So what is on offer and why is it worth signing up?

The Institution of Civil Engineers

Founded in 1818, the Institution of Civil Engineers was an attempt at a more open and professionally orientated organisation than the existing Smetonian Society of Civil Engineers, that had been around since 1771.

ICE had a weak start, until Thomas Telford took on the role of president in 1820. Telford?s strong contacts, both industrial and political, strengthened the Institution, which gained it?s Royal Charter in 1828.

With nearly 80,000 members ICE has gone from strength to strength, truly a professional leader. The vast majority of these members are working/practising engineers while student membership is approaching 20%.

While the New Civil Engineer (NCE), the ICE journal, isn't free to students, you can access it for free online

Existing in 150 countries ICE?s international presence lends gravity to the charity, while it?s publishing arm, Thomas Telford, publishes a range of key professional and academic books, including the journal, Geotechnique, founded by Alec Skempton.

Based at One Great George Street, just off Westminster Square, the headquarters has a well stocked library and rooms that play host to numerous events for professional development including those ran by the Graduate & Students (G&S) group.

ICE G&S is a unique opportunity, not only in terms of personal development, but also to meet students from other universities and recent graduates - the more easy going kind of industry contact. The G&S arm has strong ties with Imperial with current fourth years Owen Jones and Peter Wong So active on the committee. Elections for the committee are coming up this month, for which more information can be found on the ICE website ( Typical events mix development and social themes and most notable is the annual Building Bridges event, where graduates help students in an evening of model bridge building. This may at first sound arduous it is in fact a fun and social do.

Probably the most important feature of the ICE, for graduate engineers, is chartership. Becoming chartered requires you to gain experience in key areas of the industry to demonstrate knowledge and proficiency as a professional, practising engineer - but all this excitement only really begins once you graduate!

The past presidents of the ICE form a who?s who of the world of engineering: Sir John Rennie, Sir Basil Mott, Sir Joseph Bazalgette, Sir William Halcrow, the list goes on (see the box below). Unfortunately the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel died as Vice-President, never getting the chance to lead the organisation.

For more information visit the ICE website.

Institute of Structural Engineers

The Institute for Structural Engineers is a much younger organisation than the ICE. Only receiving it?s Royal Charter in 1934 it has become the world leading professional body for structural engineers and our very own Head of Department is a past president.

Originally named the Concrete Institute, IStructE was founded at the Ritz Hotel in 1908 to bring standards to the use of concrete. In 1922 the Institute took on it?s modern name to incorporate all structures and most importantly include steel construction, which combined with concrete dominate almost the entire industry.

Like the ICE, IStructE has been growing since inception and now sports over 20,000 members spread across over 100 countries. The entrance examinations, first started in 1920 were precursors to chartership to IStructE and still exist as the final, one day open book exam.

Fortnightly and free to students, the Structural Engineer, IStructE's journal, is an incredible resource.

Offering many opportunities for professional development including lectures and conferences, IStructE doesn?t have a graduates and students wing quite like the ICE. Don?t be put off by this though, students are more often than not welcome to events and there are free talks running intermittently throughout the year, including the particularly noteworthy Kenneth Kemp Bequest Lecture. Also there is the placement website that IStructE operates, for the benefit of undergraduate members with free summers. Prizes and a design competition also provide distractions worth investigating.

Although the IStructE may not have anything on the scale of ICE?s Graduate and Students Committee it does have a Student Panel that works with the other committee of the institute and works on raising IStructE awareness, so they do care about you.

Based in Belgravia, the offices are close to campus and sport a technical library and host talks. Those interested can visit 11 Upper Belgrave Street and the ICE headquarters in one hit, they are within reasonable walking distance.

For more information visit the IStructE website.

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Discussion about “Institutionalised”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Pan   
Nov 03 2007 09:24

AAahh of course, the usual undergrad attitude, that Civil Engineer = Structural Engineer :P

If you were to include IStructE, a complete article should then have included institutions covering other Civil Engineering disciplines as well.

Of the top of my head:

Nov 04 2007 16:31

So that is a reasonable point it is not entirely relevant as the industry is very distinctly divided in to 'Civils' and 'Structurals', and to head up these two sides there are two very active institutes that offer a lot of good stuff, for free for students - delving into the tiny facets of either side of civils or structurals really wouldn't be as useful as introducing both of the major institutes properly, in the scope of this article

all the same, nice point, pity you didn't eloborate on the different aspects of structural engineering

Nov 05 2007 19:02

To understand civil engineering as being a profession divided into " 'Civils' and 'Structurals' " and represented by two bodies as such appears to either represent a fundamental misunderstanding of the profession or a bias towards structural engineering. Structural engineering is just one constituent component of civil engineering, with others such as transportation engineering, geotechnical engineering and wastewater engineering of no lesser importance. For them to be dismissed as tiny facets appears to me at least to be a naive statement. The makeup of the civil engineering department at Imperial and the nature of multidisciplinary civil engineering firms is testament to this.

A balanced approach to this piece would have included information, or at the very least a mention, of the other civil engineering professional bodies such as the Institution of Highways and Transportation (which also features free membership for students), the British Geotechnical Association and so on. For the article not to even mention these bestows upon the reader a very narrow perspective of relevant professional bodies, and a distorted view of civil engineering itself.

By numbers alone the ICE is an overwhelmingly dominant civil engineering umbrella institution (70,000+ members) and the IStructE (with 22,000) is a much more specialised body representing one of the many subdivisions of the civil engineering profession along with the IHT (11,000) and others.

4. Pan   
Nov 06 2007 14:36

I would just like to add, that it would be helpful for the Author to speak with some graduates of this department, and get some insight about their career paths after they left.

Nov 07 2007 17:04

I think it is fair because as soon as you graduate you will probably start on a chartership programme with either ICE or IStructE exclusively. Both also offer significant free stuff for students and the article is does not dismiss their are other professional bodies, but what those bodies do here and now for students reading it, probably little. And I am not going to do ICE and not IStructE since our department head was once the president - something not many universities can boast.

6. Pan   
Nov 08 2007 03:53

Let me reiterate.

Most of those institutions on this list offer free memberships to to students, and material comparable to IStructE (Something that I also know from personal experience). The real difference simply boils down to an issue of promotion/advertising and its actually not a bad time to start thinking how to change that, and help people unite them with the institution that is more relevant to them.

As I said. Speak to more graduates.

Oh and finally, another hint. The previous head of department was also head of the Chartered Institute for Logistics and Transport.

7. prabu   
Jul 24 2008 14:28

un beleivable one!

Jul 28 2008 17:13

I quite the IMechE and all that lot a while ago and since I am now working in a mining and metals consultancy. Now...will I take up John Sykes' suggestion and join the RSMA?

Jul 30 2008 23:56

Atul, did you graduate from the RSM? If not then you can't "join" the RSMA. You can however join the IoMMM...

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