Last week David Orr became the 143rd president of the ICE, taking over from his predecessor Quentin Leiper. Orr has already been on Council since 1997 and a vice president for the last three years. On Tuesday 6th November, I attended his opening address at the ICE headquarters. This was listed as a Graduates and Students (G&S) event, meaning it was attended, free of charge, by ICE members of all ages and positions.
Orr?s speech gave an overview of his career and his visions for the future of the profession. A graduate of Queen?s University in Belfast, he has now worked in roads, transport and public works for 33 years. During his year in office, he wishes to boost professionalism, competence and knowledge sharing in civil engineering. To pass on his own expertise, he has already selected six graduates as apprentices who will shadow him for three days. He also feels that: ?civil engineers are very much unsung heroes and I want to turn them into people that are acclaimed by society?. He presented a case study of the little known William Bald, who engineered the 38 km Antrim Coast Road between 1832 and 1842, providing an invaluable trading link for the people of the Antrim Glens.
G&S events are great opportunities for us students to meet the people you could be working alongside during your career ? both fellow students, and more mature ICE members which could include future employers. Making yourself known with the right people could be invaluable to you in future, especially as ICE offers graduates lots of support in becoming chartered. And it isn?t even hard: last Tuesday I was chatting with Owen Jones (G&S committee member and Imperial 4th year) over free wine and canapés after the address when he introduced me to Jean Venebles, one of David Orr?s vice presidents. She told us about her struggle to enter Civil Engineering: she was almost barred from site visits because she was female, for example. She has risen to becoming the first female vice president (and possible future president) of the ICE. These people are influential and may help you later on ? my advice would be: attend G&S events and get acquainted with them now!