The future and PEIs

Posted on 15/03/2016 by Dr Tania Humphries-Smith CTPD CEng MIED FHEA FRSA

Change is inevitable and necessary, if Professional Engineering Institutions are to remain relevant and viable to those they serve, says IED chair Tania Humphries-Smith

Continuing my theme of change, a discussion paper [3] has recently been circulated among Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) asking some very pertinent questions about the future of PEIs to 2025. The paper highlights that “the millennial generation does not think in the same way as the baby boomers; their values and reward mechanisms are different. Over the last 18 months, there have been a series of papers … as to the value of the PEIs [1]…Coerver and Byers [2] … recommend that institutions overhaul governance and committee operations and specifically stop tinkering (my italics), stop the charade, stop the next big thing. They note the need to empower the CEO and enhance staff expertise, to rigorously redefine the member market, to rationalize programs and services, and to build a robust technology framework.”

As my last column clearly set out, and this is reiterated in the discussion paper, there is no issue about the growing demand for engineers. Interestingly, Sir Bill Wakeham at the PHEE/PHOMME Conference indicated that the outcomes of his latest report would include the notion that accreditation of engineering courses by PEIs was good practice and produces graduates that met the needs of industry.

So there appears to be an important function for the industry in PEIs undertaking accreditation. The issue, then, is about what those engineers and, for us, designers want from and think about professional representation. What is clear is that change is inevitable, if, as PEIs, we wish to remain relevant to you and, importantly, viable.

The future is indeed something that has been exercising the Council and staff of the IED. Our CEO is already empowered by the Council to represent the views and needs of the membership on a number of external bodies, including EngineeringUK, Tomorrow’s Engineers, Society for the Environment and the Professional Engineering Committee. You will have noticed that we have made a few changes recently. We launched a new website that enables members to update their membership profile, pay their membership and registration fees, submit CPD records, track their membership and/or registration applications, and enabled secure online sharing of papers and applications between committee members to help speed up the application and assessment process. We also launched our journal online and changed the way we manage subscriptions – these might be termed ‘tinkering’, of course.

By the time you read this column, Council will have met at an Away Day to consider what should be the future focus of the IED, so expect to hear about more changes soon.

1 Universe of Engineering, Edge Report, Letters to the Times etc.

2 Race for Relevance by Coerver and Byers (ISBN 978-0-99034-335-0).

3 Engineering the Future about the Role of Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) in 2025

Get Involved:

If you would like to contribute to any discussions, write to: Dr Tania Humphries-Smith CTPD CEng MIED FHEA FRSA, Chair, at:

The Institution of Engineering Designers, Courtleigh, Westbury Leigh, Westbury, Wiltshire, BA13 3TA.

Or email:


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