The IET at 150: celebrating a century and a half of making the world a better place
Chi Onwurah MP, Sir Julian Young IET President and Professor Danielle George Former IET President at the Parliamentary Reception celebrating 150 years of the IET (Credit: Tom Hampson)
Engineers, Parliamentarians, and stakeholders gathered in Parliament last week to celebrate the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s 150th anniversary. Future-proofing the sector was top of the agenda.
The IET was originally founded in 1871 as the Society of Telegraph Engineers, with a primary objective of the general advancement of Electrical and Telegraphic Science and facilitating the exchange of information and ideas among members.
The parliamentary reception brought to a close a year of anniversary celebrations, and Sir Julian Young, who has recently been appointed the 140th President, addressed the room, explaining how the IET still heeds to its original message, aiming “to inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community, bringing together people from a range of disciplines to make it real impact, with more than 158,000 members in over 150 countries.”
The reception was hosted by Chi Onwurah MP, a chartered engineer and fellow of the IET, who expressed her delight at being able to address a room full of engineers, for the first ever time in Parliament. She compared engineering and politics as “twin engines of progress”, saying: “I entered engineering to make the world work better for everyone, and that is also what politics aims to do.”
The Minister for Industry, and Net Zero Industry Champion, Lee Rowley MP also congratulated the IET on the anniversary, and thanked engineers across the country on behalf of the Government.
“Engineers have completely changed the world, which we live in,” he said. “Thank you for everything you continue to do and thank you for everything you will do as we get on top of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
As well as celebrating the past 150 years, the reception looked ahead to the next 150 years of Engineering, and the IET highlighted its aims for more diversity, more sustainability, more young people and encouraging a greater understanding of the potential of the sector.
Sir Julian said: “Today's event is very much about looking to the future. The pandemic has highlighted more than ever the essential role engineers play in solving real-world problems.” He further outlined the need to address the skills shortage in the engineering sector, with some “124,000 engineers and technicians” required every year to meet current and future demand for core engineering roles by 2024.
Minister Rowley praised the IET’s work in ensuring the engineers of the future. “If we can harness the talents of young people out of those for generations to come, we can secure your founder's legacy for the next 150 years,” he said, commending the efforts at the reception to showcase the successes of talented engineers, from different backgrounds, gender, and class.
“Engineers have completely changed the world we live in. On behalf of the Government, thank you for everything you have done”
Amongst the exhibitors was Ella Podmore, a Materials Engineer at McLaren Automotive and Winner of the IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year Award 2020, and Shrouk-El Attar, a Senior Electronics Engineer working for EMM and winner of the Women’s Engineering Society Prize 2020. Both expressed their passion and enthusiasm for encouraging early interest in STEM subjects and careers, and desire to inspire future generations to view engineering as a viable career option.
Professor Danielle George, former President, praised both young women for smashing engineering stereotypes globally, but highlighted the invisibility of engineering in society, despite being “woven into the very fabric of everyday life”.
She spoke of the IET’s desire for “collaboration between government, STEM education supporters, academia and industry, to provide teachers with the tools that they need to showcase that science, design and technology, and maths, are all vital elements of engineering.”
Mr Rowley echoed her sentiments, highlighting his awareness of the “urgent need to inspire and to educate the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists, not just to fill the current skills gaps, but also to vitally attract young people to their thousands of engineering roles.”
You can find out more about the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s 150th Anniversary Celebrations here.
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