ICE to create new breed of engineer

6 July 2021

In a bid to broaden and diversify its professional membership, and to reflect the changing needs of society, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is to create a new qualification title – the Chartered Infrastructure Engineer.

According to the ICE, the proposed engineering qualification is designed to “create a new, natural home to qualify and assure the competence of the many thousands of people who are highly experienced and working in today’s infrastructure sectors, many of them in responsible and senior roles, but who have backgrounds and expertise that lie beyond the traditional civil engineering skillset”. Suitable qualified individuals who are not civil engineers may therefore qualify to become a Chartered Infrastructure Engineer (CIE)

The proposal, which must meet the standards set by the Engineering Council, has already been welcomed and supported by the ICE Council and Trustee Board, as well as by consultants and contractors, and agreed in principle by the Privy Council and the Engineering Council. And as with the Chartered Civil Engineer descriptor, the ‘Chartered Infrastructure Engineer’ title would be protected and owned by the ICE.

In June 2021, ICE President Rachael Skinner outlined the proposed role to a meeting of the British Tunnelling Society Committee and noted that it could prove attractive to some BTS individual members who are not ICE members.

Shortly afterwards, while hosting an ICE online discussion about the adoption of the new qualification title, Skinner explained: “The idea goes back to 2019 when the ICE’s elected council recommended that the Institution consider introducing a new professional engineering qualification for suitably qualified individuals who work in infrastructure but who cannot – or for whatever personal reasons do not wish to – become chartered civil engineers.”

Skinner continued: “There is a recognition that while civil engineers play a vital part in delivering infrastructure globally, so do many other people who do not yet have that natural professional home. How can these people demonstrate professional competence at an individual level if they do not see a route to professional qualification within our civil engineering space? And how can we demonstrate our collective competence if a growing number of people working within our civil engineering space are not able to be qualified?”

Explaining how CIE status could be achieved, ICE Director General Nick Baveystock said the new qualification would be pegged at master’s level knowledge and could be attained by one of the following routes:

  1. A relevant master’s degree
  2. A B.Eng. degree combined with ICE experience or further learning – i.e. as with the process for civil engineers.
  3. A technical report which demonstrates master’s level understanding.

Applicants would then have to successfully navigate the integrated project delivery (IPD) process followed by professional review.

Also participating in the online discussion was ICE Director of Membership Séan Harris who made the important distinction that while civil engineers may be said to work in infrastructure, a future infrastructure engineer will not be able to claim to be a civil engineer.

The next step in creating the CIE qualification is for the ICE to gain the endorsement of its members. To this end, a member’s ballot will take place in February 2022. Other discussions and debates will take place in the intervening period.