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Future of Structural Engineer in the next decade

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:00 pm    Post subject: Future of Structural Engineer in the next decade Reply with quote

Dear Sefians,

As the E-Conference on the "State of Structural Engineering Practice and Education" draws to a close, it is time for me, as one of the Moderator, to give my closing remarks on the sub-topic of "Future of Structural Engineer in the next decade ?".

At the outset, I wish to profusely thank the admin of SEFI for conducting this full fledged 2-weeks e-conference on this most important and relevant topic that concerns all of us. I must admit that this has been an extremely successful E-conference. We have received suggestions and comments from a very wide spectrum of Engineers, ranging from a budding young and fresh structural engineer to TITANS representing the consulting industry and also TITANS from academic institutions. What emerged during this 2 week of intense debate and discussion, on the sub topic "Future of Structural Engineer in the next decade" is the following :

1.0  Structural Engineering Profession is not getting the status in the society that is fitting with the social responsibility that this profession has to take. The central issues that beleaguer our profession today are the following :

a)  Low status in civil society
b)  Poor salaries, and low professional earnings
c)  Poor education, with no continuing education after graduation
d)  No commonly observed code of ethics in securing and performing work
e)  No regulating authority for the profession. Structural Engineering is not considered as a profession in construction industry !!
f)   No  accountability.

2.0  Several suggestions were given by Sefians to improve the present situation. Some of these are :

a) To improve co-ordination between Industry and Academic Institutions. To give more industrial training and exposure to students. Industry to take this on-the-job training seriously and be a little more proactive in generating interests about this fascinating world of structural engineering in the minds of these young students.
b) There are several structural engineering associations in India. These associations must take more proactive steps and initiative in bringing about this change and work together to impart initial professional training to budding engineers and also impart continuing education and professional development program for the experienced engineers. All the associations must have a commitment to improve the professional standards within structural engineering community and strive for their continued technical excellence; advancing safety and innovation across the built environment..
c) There is a need to have some guidelines on minimum range of fee structure for the structural engineers. Industry must be sensitized in this regards and selection of consultant shall not be based purely on fee structure, but it shall be based on Quality and Cost Based Selection system (QCBS). This will bring certain minimum quality

3.0       In order to build upon the momentum generated by this conference and in order to change the growing perception of many structural engineers that this profession is becoming a "sun-set industry", I would like to put forward the following closing remarks :
a) Structural Engineering is a High Responsibility Profession. Giant steps are required to be taken by all the stakeholders to revive this profession and bring it to its logical position of glory.
b)  The industry is expected to respond to this distress call in following manner :
-       Develop Skills of Structural Engineers with continuous professional development programs. This may involve participation and funding by the construction industry in a large scale. Governments support will be necessary too.
-       Train young professionals how to lead. If you are a leader in the profession, please involve young professionals in decision making process and also in various professional committees.
-       All institutions and associations (like IEI, ECI, IASE, ACCE, CEAI) in the country must unite and jointly work to regulate this engineering profession. Engineers Bill must be brought in as an act of parliament. This is in the interest of public safety and in the process, Engineers will get recognized by the society as well.
-       Industry must work towards improving the visibility and image of Engineers in the society. Let us start to celebrate "National Engineers Week" (as celebrated by many other countries like USA, Canada, UK), wherein the engineers of the entire nation will celebrate and would deliberate on issues about how engineers would make a difference in our world. During this period, we can increase public dialogue. We can bring engineering to life for kids, educators, and parents and we can devote time to do our chintan baithaks for improving our performance in the society.
c) There is a need for better collaboration between structural engineering professionals in practice and those in academia. These collaborations helps both the sides to orient the young structural engineers in the right direction, when they come out of the college to join the industry. Academic Institutions must invite practicing structural engineers of repute to give lectures to the students and share their experience and Senior structural engineers in the industry must be prepared to devote a fraction of their time in imparting technical knowledge to this young budding engineers.  

I sincerely hope that there would be movement in these directions in the very near future and all of you will come together to make this happen. We must change the perception about this profession from a "sun-set industry" to "sun-shine industry".

I wish to close by acknowledging the herculean efforts of Er. Alpa Sheth, Dr N Subrmanian, Dr Rupen Goswami, Mr Nilesh Shah, Mr Hemant Vadalkar and SEFI administrator, Er. Sanjeev Kumar in putting together a successful e-conference for sefians.

With best wishes

Alok Bhowmick

Managing Director, B&S Engineering Consultants Pvt. Ltd.,
Chairman, Editorial Board, ING-IABSE,
Vice President, ING-IABSE,
Member, Governing Council, IASE, CEAI,
Member Secretary, B1 Committee (IRC),
Member, BSS, B2, B4, B5, B6, B9 & B10 Committee (IRC)
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