Engineering Council chairman looks to the future

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 August 2000




(2000), "Engineering Council chairman looks to the future", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 72 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Engineering Council chairman looks to the future

Engineering Council chairman looks to the future

Keywords: Engineering Council, Engineering, United Kingdom

Dr Robert Hawley, Chairman of the Engineering Council, has outlined his personal view of the future of UK engineering in a speech to the City & Guilds College Association.

Speaking at the Association's annual dinner recently, Dr Hawley spoke of the need to re-define "engineering" in order to reflect its changing horizons in a rapidly changing, knowledge-based, global society. Traditional definitions of engineering, he said, tend to focus exclusively on process and the products but fail to mention such key words as wealth creation, innovation, teamwork, challenge or achievement.

He added that defining "the future" was no easier, but that it was important to try because only then can we hope to create an engineering community that is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the future. Considering such factors as demographics and technological advances - particularly in information, bio and nano-technologies - would be critical in this respect, he said.

Dr Hawley also told his audience that he believed a new wave of innovation will develop in the face of international competition and globalisation. This in turn will result in improved tax regimes, changes in attitudes of stock markets and venture capitalists and changes in basic education, so that a climate is created in which this new entrepreneurialism can flourish.

A growing concern about the need to protect the environment will also have a major impact, he claimed, and there will be an ever more rapid move towards sustainable development - something which he considers only engineering can achieve.

A potential new element in preparing UK engineering for the future has been suggested by the joint DTI/Engineering Council working group (the Hawley Group), namely the creation of a universal framework of competence. Dr Hawley explained that such a framework would allow young engineers to enter a much broader profession and be able to navigate around the framework as motivation and opportunity dictated. The framework would have core people-centred competencies - such as project management, ergonomic principles and risk management - which would be underpinned by basic manufacturing and assembly skills, plus a foundation of natural sciences.

The framework would include ladders of competence in external drivers such as management, financing and engineering for sustainable development. It would be fully modular to enable engineers to develop and maintain competencies and each module would have a shelf life so that the engineering had to be continually re-learned. The modules would also be inter-disciplinary and shared in order to avoid the barriers and tribalism that occasionally bedevil the profession today.

Against that backdrop, Dr Hawley believes that the future of engineering depends upon the production of a new breed of engineer, with a comprehensive range of managerial and entrepreneurial skills to complement the traditional grounding in natural sciences and engineering.

Issued by the Engineering Council, 17 February 2000. Media enquiries to Brian O'Neill, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7240 7891 or e-mail: BO'

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