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Engineers need to “do the right thing” to reassure public, says new ICE president

Paul Sheffield, the 155th president of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Engineers must “do the right thing” and ensure robust maintenance regimes to assure public trust, says the new president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

Paul Sheffield will give his inaugural address on 12 November as he becomes the 155th president of ICE. He is the former CEO of Kier Group and former managing director at Laing O’Rourke and will serve as ICE president for the 2019/20 term.

Speaking to infrastructure sector leaders and senior ICE members at a reception to mark the presidential handover, Sheffield is expected to call on the profession to ensure its work is accurate, transparent and to the highest standard. 

Sheffield will say: “In the face of public scrutiny, it is increasingly important for engineers to be able to demonstrate that they are competent throughout their careers, not just on the day they qualify. This is a process that ICE is very well placed to help with, to moderate and to assure. I would certainly back the recent developments around legislating to create a building safety regulator to help drive up standards of assurance, potentially covering a wider spectrum than just high-risk residential buildings.”

Sheffield is also expected to discuss net-zero carbon emissions and the role of civil engineers in meeting the UK’s 2050 target. He is due to highlight energy efficiency in buildings, smart city energy networks, and adapting road infrastructure for electric vehicles as areas where civil engineering can offer solutions.

Sheffield will say: “In the UK, we have enshrined in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so. We must step up to these challenges and show other sectors how it should be done. Many of the assets that we design and build are expected to last for decades, if not centuries. Today’s civil engineers need to remain at the cutting edge of technology and innovation to create structures and buildings for tomorrow. We must be anticipating long-term trends and developing resilient products and processes.”

Outlining the aims and objectives for his year in office, Sheffield’s speech will refer to three presidential themes - embracing  innovation and iteration to support a modern workforce; getting the basics right and self-assessment; and what the future holds for civil engineering and infrastructure delivery.