Since the mid 1800s the government has debated the perennial question ‘what is the status of engineers in society?’ Even as recently as 5 years ago an new report was commissioned by the government to ask the very same question as almost their fellow MPs asked almost 150 years ago. The question itself is problematic as the very definition of an engineer is still hotly debated. It must be understood however that engineers vitally contribute to global challenges; and their hard work and innovation directly powers the success of the Great British and European Markets.
In general the public do neither appreciate or understand the vital contribution that engineers make towards the development of society. One might argue that this lack of knowledge may be a result of too few engineering role models. In a cross section of children aged 14 to 18 that wanted to pursue a career in engineering in the London area none of the group were able to name a famous engineer.
Increasingly shocking is the unfortunate reality that the government do not recognise or consult the professional engineering institutions before making decisions. This furthermore reduces the status of engineers. Comparing this situation with many of the other professional disciplines such as Medical or Legal, their institutions are approached and consulted before government legislation is put in place. Some say that this disregard of the engineering institutions is due partly to the large number of institutions that exist (38). This has lead the government to bring up the idea of lumping large numbers of the institutions together, thus leaving less to consult. This approach is seen by many as a heavy handed and silly decision as the same result of inter-institution cooperation could be achieved by creating an engineering council of 38 members, one to represent each institution.
Typically when asked to picture an engineer, most people instantly imagine a...