Our Welding and Joining Processes Technical Group will be hosting their first in-person Technical Group, from 9:30PM – 3:30PM (UK time) on 14 September 2023.
The event, which is titled, ‘In Person: SMRs/AMRs – Manufacturing the Nuclear Future,’ will be useful for those interested in the future of SMR/AMR manufacture.
Who Should Attend?
Designers, manufacturing and production engineers, welding engineers and anyone with an interest in the future of nuclear power generation and vessel manufacture.
Speaker and Presentations:
FULL EVENT AND REGISTRATION DETAILS
Claire Christey MSc IEng MWeldI is a Team Leader within Port Engineering at the Shetland Islands Council. She has achieved her MSc in Mechanical Engineering and BEng (hons) in Mechanical and Energy Engineering, both from the University of the Highlands and Islands.
She talks us through her career in engineering, her Membership as well as Professional Registration.
When did you join The Welding Institute?
I joined the Welding institute as a student member in 2018 and achieved Incorporated Engineer in 2020.
Please describe your current job role and responsibilities/a typical day in your role:
In my current role I have line management responsibility for a team of senior technical engineers, electrical and marine engineers and responsibility for the maintenance of all the Councils marine fixed assets, ranging from navigation buoys to the Sullom Voe Terminal Oil Export Jettys.
A typical day is highly varied and can involve anything from onsite inspections and surveys at some of the UK’s most remote sites, many of which can only be accessed by ATV or boat to preparation of tender documents and specifications for contracts.
Intro to you and your career in engineering
Why did you choose a career in engineering?
I love the variety of engineering, especially in the marine sector. I gain an immense amount of satisfaction from fixing things or coming up with improvements.
Early Professional Membership
Tell us a bit about the process of becoming a Member of The Welding Institute.
I joined the Welding Institute as a student Member in 2018 whilst I was undertaking my bachelors degree and working for a local engineering and fabrication company. Once I had passed my degree, I submitted my application and engineering council competence mapping and after passing my interview, I was awarded Incorporated Engineer in 2020.
Professional Membership and Registration: IEng
When and why did you choose to become professionally registered?
I chose to become professionally registered as soon as I had completed my BEng (hons) and was eligible for professional registration. Professional registration was important to me, being in a remote and isolated location means that the support of an organisation such as The Welding Institute provides resources that otherwise would not be available.
What was the most difficult aspect of becoming registered as IEng and how did you overcome it?
I find talking about myself particularly challenging and so the interview aspect was hard for me. I focused what I have done through my career and the interviewers were really good at asking questions that helped me to open up.
Which membership benefits do you use the most and find the most helpful and why?
Access to webinars and other online training opportunities are invaluable for maintaining my CPD and keeping up to date with latest developments.
Future (Membership and Career)
What are your engineering aspirations?
I am currently preparing my competence mapping for CEng and hope to submit and achieve that this later this year.
Would you recommend Membership with The Welding Institute and why?
Yes I would recommend membership, the support is excellent and access to resources has meant that I can progress in my career.
Our Structural Integrity Technical Group will be hosting their first in-person Technical Group, from 12:00PM – 17:00PM (UK time) on 12 September 2023.
The event, which is titled, ‘In Person: Structural Integrity in the Nuclear World,’ will be useful for those interested in the nuclear industry.
Managers, engineers and technicians involved in structural integrity at all levels, and from all sides of the nuclear industry (manufacturers to regulators).
Speakers and Presentations:
Having joined The Welding Institute in 1962, Michael B. Flannery IEng MWeldI MEIT is one of our longest-serving Professional Members.
Alongside his links to The Welding Institute, Michael also has an association with The Institution of Engineering and Technology and achieved his ‘Advanced Examination Electric Arc Welding with Credit in 1965’ and ‘Advanced Examination Oxy-acetylene Welding with Credit’ in 1966. From there, he obtained a full Technological Certificate in Fabrication and a Welding Engineering Technicians Certificate with distinction in 1975.
Michael walked us through why he became interested in engineering, his journey within the industry and how being a Member has aided him.
He began, “I first became interested in welding when my father was a vehicle mechanic with The British Oxygen Company,” adding, “He introduced me gas and arc welding associated with vehicle repair.”
Michael’s career saw him work as a welding apprentice at Fraser and Chalmers Engineering Works in Erith, Kent as well as at G. A. Harvey, in Charlton, London.
This followed with work for international companies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, with Michael revealing, “My field of work in welding, included welding supervisor, welding engineer, lecturer in fabrication and welding, chief field engineer, and construction manager.” He continued, “For the past 7 years I have been engaged as facility manager for the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta, Canada.”
Having joined The Welding Institute in 1962, Michael revealed that he was encouraged to join while attending training at TWI, explaining, “The Welding Instructor in the training school encouraged me to join The Welding Institute to keep up with developments in the welding environment.”
Michael was a regular attendee at branch meetings for The Institute in London and Kent, where he was able to “keep myself appraised of developments in welding,” adding that, “on two occasions, I attended The Welding Institute at Abington on seminars related to pipe welding.”
He continued, “The Welding Institute is the source where so many answers to questions are available and has provided information I required on many occasions.”
Looking back over his career so far, Michael said, “My career has covered many different aspects of engineering insofar that welding is and always will be significant in tomorrow’s world,” adding, “Encouragement to my son-in-law to teach welding for the past 16 years and a granddaughter to be in her third year as an apprentice is proof of my commitment to the future.”
While Michael looks to the future and using his expertise to help the next generation, as one of The Welding Institute’s longest serving Members, we had to finish by asking him about his fondest memories from being a Member.
Michael concluded by saying, “As a young apprentice, I became a Member of the Welding Institute with great enthusiasm. My attendance to meetings in London and Kent were very informative, which assisted both my work and technical college training, for City & Guilds of the London Institute,” noting, “As time went on, I attended many lectures and practical applications on research, technology and training by The Welding Institute at Abington and other locations.”
The British Welding Research Association (BWRA), a predecessor to today’s TWI Ltd, purchased Abington Hall in 1946 for £3850, with the surrounding land becoming the headquarters for both TWI and The Welding Institute.
Before this purchase by the BWRA, the land had been used by the military during the Second World War, with both British and overseas troops being billeted on the site as well as at the nearby village of Abington.
The Bertram family, who had been in residence at the Hall when the war broke out, soon moved to live in Devon during the war years, leaving Mr Raymond Lane in charge as bailiff. Mr Lane himself served in both World Wars, first in the army and then as an RAF plotter based at nearby Duxford.
The Military Arrives
Rumour had started to spread through Abington that the army was going to be stationed in the area and before long, lorries began to arrive and tents were erected in preparation for the arrival of the troops.
The London Irish Rifles Regiment were the first troops to arrive in the area, having walked from Cambridge station after coming back from Dunkirk. They were followed by the Royal Medical Corps, the Royal Artillery, the Royal Engineers, Lancers, Signals, the Canadian troops, Cameron Highlanders, and the Lothian Border Tanks Regiment. The tank regiment parked their tanks down Church Lane in Abington before heading off to join the fighting in the Middle East. The Duke of Gloucester while stationed in the area, where they dammed the river so they could test run their vehicles through three to four foot deep water, inspected the tank regiment.
While the troops found themselves camped out under canvas during the war, the officers were billeted in the Old House and Abington Lodge, as well as at Abington Hall itself. Hetty Pavitt (née Cutter), who lived in the area at the time, recalled delivering newspapers to the officers at Abington Hall, having cycled across the nearby meadows.
In addition, there were a number of Polish soldiers stationed at the Hall and camped in the gardens of the Old House for a short while, who were remembered as being “polite and well liked.” Canadian troops also passed through for a weekend of rest and recuperation, where they played softball and a group of Belgian soldiers also passed through before heading off to help relieve Brussels. Meanwhile, Italian prisoners of war were also put to work in the village and on nearby Grange Farm.
The U.S. 8th Army also spent time stationed in the grounds of Abington Hall ahead of the onset of D Day, with reports saying they enjoyed drinking in the local pubs – The Railway Inn at Pampisford, The Princess of Wales and The Crown. The Three Tuns pub in Abington was, however, the preserve of the officers in the area.
The Crown pub also acted as the section HQ for the local Home Guard, who manned a gun point to defend a bridge behind the Old House, while England cricketer Frank Woolley commanded an RAF searchlight battery at the park.
The War and the Local Community
Aside from the many troops who were stationed at and around the Hall, there were a number of incidents that impacted the local community. Air raid shelters were erected in the gardens of local people and there are reports of a bomb landing on the bridge between Great and Little Abington, another striking the road at the entrance to Abington Hall and a third bomb landing on the nearby North Road. Fortunately nobody was hurt by these bombs, but V1 and V2 rockets were sighted overhead by villagers.
Of course, a number of men went to fight in the war – joining the RAF, army and the Royal Navy, some of whom lost their lives while fighting. The local GP, Dr Wilson, also did his bit locally, training the Red Cross in first aid.
Clearing the Site
At the end of the war, the site was initially cleared by the Royal Pioneer Corps before a small group were formed to continue this work. Mr Tom Patten was released from his military service in November 1945 and joined this group to clear the site on June 1946 as the BWRA moved into Abington Hall.
Of course, as mentioned above, some of the army buildings were repurposed for use by the BWRA while other items, such as a searchlight battery on the site, were decommissioned. The upper floors of the Hall were converted into flats and the history of TWI and The Welding Institute at Abington near Cambridge had begun.
TWI Ltd has launched its Digital Library, a new platform that will connect Professional Members of The Welding Institute to more than 80 years of TWI’s unique technical knowledge.
A state-of-the-art Member-only knowledge discovery platform that searches across multiple repositories to bring you the right information when you need it.
Thousands of newly digitised reports, papers, conference proceedings and journals that, until now, have been archived and inaccessible to many Members.
Members also benefit from access to Scholarly OneSearch which takes you beyond TWI’s collections.
All existing technical content such as Members’ Reports, Job Knowledge, FAQs and e-books is included too. When fully populated, the TWI Digital Library will provide a single point of access to over 20,000 items on all aspects of welding and joining, materials performance, integrity management and inspection.
Access the TWI Digital Library and select the 'Professional Member Login' option.
Ibrahim Nuruddin Katsina CEng SenMWeldI is currently a deputy manager of mechanical piping and pipelines at (NNPC Gas Infrastructure Company) NGIC, NNPC Ltd. With a undergraduate degree in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at AB Zaria in Nigeria, he then went on to achieve his Masters at Cranfield University in Welding Engineering, leading him to pursue and attain a PhD, specialising in oil and gas pipeline welding and infrastructure from Cranfield University.
I joined The Welding Institute in 2008 after completing my exam for the GradWeldI grade in 2009, then became a Member
Please describe your current job role and responsibilities:
Now, I am focusing on gas infrastructure at NNPC Ltd as well as being responsible for pipeline infrastructure: building, maintenance, project management and pipelines integrity. I also manage my team and facilitate projects, i.e. design and implementation. Finally yet importantly, I oversee safety and standardisation with my team and the projects we work on.
When I was a schoolchild, I used to go to my uncle’s company ITEC Nigeria Ltd and work there during the summers; this is where my interest began. He was my role model, may his gentle soul rest in peace.
What’s one of your biggest career highlights or achievements that you’re most proud of?
When I was first starting out, as a young entrepreneur with little to no capital, I started a welding workshop. Within my first year, I built it into an established company.
What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome this?
I was managing a project and there were some instructions given to a new welder to follow a procedure. He failed to follow the instructions well which in turn led to expensive damages of a valve. This led to my team having to think very quickly on the spot to fix the issues caused.
Another challenge that I had to face was linked to my workshops. A construction company approached me to manufacture over a thousand windows and burglary proofs, and hundreds of handrails and balustrades. The time frame was the challenge; they needed all of these in 4 weeks. I took on the challenge and it became one of the biggest challenges at that young age. I had to manage hundreds of people and subcontract part of the work in order to achieve the set target, but we delivered the last pieces on the last day!
Why did you initially join The Welding Institute?
I found out about The Welding Institute through an Institute talk and I became interested and came to Great Abington, Cambridge. I thought it would be the right place to gain knowledge and experience.
Tell us a bit about the process of becoming a Member of The Welding Institute:
I first joined as a Student Member. Then I later pursued a PhD, at this stage I applied for a Senior Member I went through the Professional review interview process.
Are you professionally registered?
Yes, I became a Chartered Engineer at the same time as applying for Senior Member.
What was the process of Professional Registration like and why did you choose to become professionally registered?
After my first professional review interview with The Welding Institute, I was informed that I needed more experience and therefore, I pursued more work to aid my professional development.
How has professional membership/registration helped you throughout your career?
I believe Professional Membership is important and it gives prestige, knowledge and value to your career . An example of how professional registration aided my career was in that when I applied for a job, they noticed I hold CEng and SenMWeldI status and therefore a better job offer was made of becoming a manager. This demonstrated the value that employers hold of being professionally registered.
What membership benefits do you use the most and find the most helpful and why?
The Welding and Joining Matters Journal, the technical talks and webinars as well as the Branch events.
What current volunteer roles do you undertake?
I volunteered for The Welding Institute events such as Welding with Chocolate. I found this to be an insightful experience being able to work with inquisitive minds. I also became a Professional Board Member as well as becoming an assessor for those applying for CEng registration. This role entails me conducting professional review interview for candidates.
Why do you undertake these volunteer roles and what are the benefits of volunteering with The Welding Institute?
It feels good to give back and to be able to teach engineering to younger minds. It is also rewarding to have the ability to help others applying to become CEng and for Professional Members. I love being able to give back to institutions that have helped in building me and my career.
What advice would you give to anyone considering, or even currently undertaking volunteer roles with The Welding Institute?
I will always advise young engineers that volunteer roles give you many advantages and experiences as well as being able to connect with mentors and likeminded peers. This in turn leads you to be able to build relationships for the future. Always volunteer with an open mind as well so that you’re able to learn more each time.
What are your engineering aspirations?
I hope to become a Fellow of the Institutes I am a part of as well as to continue developing my career. But for now, my current goal is to understand my new role and to get used to it.
I do recommend it, as can be seen with when I was offered a better job offer once they learned that I held CEng and Senior Member status. The added benefits of networking are immeasurable.
What advice would you give or what would you say to your younger self beginning your career in engineering?
Either remove the you, ot change the last sentense top value to your career.
Fellow CEng Alan Gifford worked for International Combustion Ltd, a major engineering business based at Derby offering products for the nuclear engineering industry, for over 40 years.
With 2023 marking the 100th anniversary of The Welding Institute, Alan sent us an excerpt from International Combustion Ltd’s house magazine, ‘The Peak.’
The excerpt, from a 1959 issue of the magazine, was written by section leader John Adams and dates from a time when the company’s welding department had just appointed their first welding engineer, E.K. Keefe.
While Mr Keefe’s role would be taken over by Alan around 18 months later, John Adams recognised the importance of welding to International Combustion’s future enterprises so attended a course run by The Institute of Welding at Princes gate in London.
Following the course, John visited The British Welding Research Association (BWRA - a forerunner to today’s TWI) at Abington near Cambridge.
It was here that he was shown around the laboratories and was given the chance to see the welding process of metals, which he enjoyed.
It was this visit that formed the basis for John’s article in the Peak, which included details of research being carried out at the time and the importance of the work of the BWRA.
He also highlighted some confidential research work on ‘Sno Cats,’ which were tracked vehicles used for a transantarctic expedition. The BWRA were asked to test the tracks following their failure and found that the welds had been “made without the necessary control over welding conditions,” going on to note that, “none of the welds failed” after the BWRA had machined out the original joins and re-welded them under strict metallurgical control.
John’s article also highlighted the importance of the work of the BWRA at the time given the absence of instruction in welding technology at universities and technical colleges, adding that, “it is left to industrial firms to provide this training, but the British Welding Research Association are investigating the formation of a new design advisory service.”
The article shows how the Institute and BWRA were proving influential for industry at the time, and you can read the article as forwarded by Fellow CEng Alan Gifford, in full, below:
Jade White BEng Hons, CEng, MWeldI, EWE, IWE joined The Welding Institute over a decade ago and has led a fulfilling career thus far, having appeared on the WES (Women’s Engineering Society) Top 50 Women in Engineering List and advocating for increased access to engineering for women throughout her career.
Jade talks us through why she chose a career in engineering, her Membership with The Welding Institute, her advice to her younger self, and more.
Over 10 years ago.
I am a Welding Engineer; in a typical day, I review welding procedures and offer technical advice on welding and fabrication to various projects on site.
I was exposed to engineering as a potential career with a good salary from a young age, having grown up in Barrow-in-Furness, with companies such as BAE and Sellafield Ltd on my doorstep
Appearing on the WES Top 50 Women in Engineering List was a wonderful achievement and I felt honoured to have been picked alongside fellow females in successful engineering careers.
What is one of the biggest challenges you have faced in your career and how did you overcome this?
Returning to work full time after having my children, but this has been supported with agile and flexible working arrangements, I believe this support is crucial for working parents.
It was suggested as part of my CPD and performance management with my employer.
I used the TWI website to guide me to the required documents to be completed. I then contacted the TWI Membership service department for further guidance concerning interviews.
As well as being encouraged by my employers to gain this status, I believed it was important to be recognised by my peers, for recognition of competence, commitment and evidence of expertise.
How has Professional Registration as CEng supported you in your career?
Since becoming a Professional Member I have benefitted from internal promotions in my current job role. The requirement to keep on top of continuing professional development (CPD) has helped provide a body of evidence of my achievements. CPD also helps me to identify areas of improvement, which in turn support my performance management agreement with my employer.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of becoming CEng and MWeldI?
Being asked to join the TWI Professional Board.
What are your core involvements with The Welding Institute, what do they entail and why do you undertake them?
I was a Member of the TWI Professional Board, and was asked to join after the board watched a BBC news article I filmed addressing the topic of females in engineering roles. I try to attend as many groups or seminars that are relevant to my job role as possible, however due to location this sometimes proves quite difficult.
Which Membership benefits do you use the most and find the most helpful and why?
Training and seminars to help with CPD.
I aim to continue adding to my professional development and experience in my role as a welding subject matter expert (SME) for Sellafield Ltd.
Yes, I believe it demonstrates a professional attitude and can also lead to improved career prospects and employability.
Take all available opportunities to gain experience and talk to people already in engineering careers to discover different pathways. Apply for training schemes offered by large companies (i.e. Degree Apprenticeships, Graduate Schemes, and Industrial Summer Internships). Choose STEM subjects at A Level and degree level.
The Finniston Report (also known as ‘The Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Engineering Profession’ or by its title, ‘Engineering Our Future’) nearly changed how the engineering profession operated in the UK with regards to professional institutions.
Commissioned in 1979 by the then Labour government’s Department of Trade and Industry, the report was a reaction to the dissatisfaction felt by the engineering industry to the Council of Engineering Institutions (CEI).
Industrialist, Monty Finniston was tasked with canvassing opinion from 100 of Britain’s engineering firms as well as visiting Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, The Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and West Germany to assess their approach to the profession. In the end, the committee’s 17 members only visited 33 UK engineering firms whose opinions were not included in the report as they were deemed confidential. However, the international investigations found that the status of engineers was higher in these countries than in the UK. Finniston’s findings also found that the state was involved in the registration of engineers in all of the international countries, unlike in the UK, where it was handled by private institutions.
Finniston’s remit also included a review of how well professional institutions and the CEI were meeting the needs of engineers and technicians, along with the role played by institutions in educating and regulating their members.
The report was also asked to consider whether the statutory regulation and licensing of engineers – as was the case in other nations – would be beneficial to the engineering industry in the UK.
The investigations were carried out in the light of concerns over a shortage of engineers in industry and a demographic decline in the number of 18-year-olds who could enter the profession in the early 1980s.
The outcome of the Finniston Report was of interest to The Welding Institute at the time as we sought affiliation with the CEI. In addition, The Institute was among the bodies that were asked to submit evidence and opinions to the Finniston Inquiry.
In October 1977 a working group was created to prepare the Institute’s evidence, as shown by the minutes from a Welding Institute Professional Board meeting on 26th October where it was decided to send, “factual information concerning its constitution and activities together with opinions on the various points covered by the Inquiry’s terms of reference.”
The earliest throughts from the Board included those of board member, Dr Nichols who, “said that he thought the advantages of limited registration and licensing greatly outweighed the disadvantages and the Professional Board agreed to recommend to Mr Gallagher’s Working Group to reply to this effect.”
However things were not entirely clear-cut as, “Mr Boyd said that a related problem was that the Technician Engineer and Technician Boards of the ERB, on which he was the Institute’s representative, were also being asked to make submissions to the Committee of Inquiry,” with meeting notes showing, “it appeared that the Technician Engineer Board was on the whole disenchanted with its experience of working in an organisation ultimately controlled by the CEI and would be recommending that the ERB be set up as a totally independent organisation with its own Royal Charter. However, it did not appear that the Technician Board would share this view and The Welding Institute could clearly not support two conflicting policies.”
While these conflicting views were considered, a Professional Member Survey was circulated to, “secure a picture of the way in which the classes of membership are distributed in respect of job function,” adding, “provision was made for comment on the objectives of the Finniston Inquiry as an alternative to the framing of specific questions or propositions. It was considered that comment so rendered could be given more weight than a ‘yes/no’ or ‘for/ against’ vote.”
As a result Members ranging from apprentices to Technology Fellows were invited to offer their opinions on the Finniston Inquiry. There was a good number of respondents to the request, with the findings offering a good snapshot of the thoughts and concerns of The Welding Institute’s Members at the time.
A February 1978 report collated the findings, determining that, “the strongest thread in the web of arguments submitted concerned the current lack of status for the industrial engineer, expressed in terms of salary (compared with overseas engineers, and with the non-engineering professions), significance of title and public esteem. This is held to affect the manufacturing sector in particular, spokesmen for which believe that their counterparts in public service or consultancy are more generously accommodated. There would be considerable support for the concept that engineers be rewarded commensurately with the wealth they create.”
The February 1978 report continued, “There is concern that whereas professionalism is equated with institution membership and is thus allied to academic attainment, the academic preparation of the engineer is inadequate for the demands of modern practice, especially in the field of welding technology. In this respect both the teaching syllabus and the quality of student intake were mentioned in the unfavourable sense.”
However, the report continued, “On the other hand the need for the Welding Institute to secure CEI affiliation is quite widely urged. The end result is generally seen as beneficial to the recognition of welding technology and the standing of Professional Members. The latter point was sharply defined by those working for employers who give credit for chartered status in their career structure. That this implies open acceptance of the associated academic level is much less certain; perhaps not all of the implications of affiliation are fully understood.”
Registration of engineers was also discussed in the findings, as the report noted, “There is considerable interest for the registration of engineers, most often mentioned in regard to public safety but, perhaps, also held as an additional means of establishing status. One comment made the critical point that it would be essential to define the technical reasons for each particular case for which registration was advocated, so that requisite knowledge could be stated.”
But this did not mean that the findings were unanimous, as the report revealed, “Another submission, however, argued eloquently against the setting up of registration/licensing as a government operation; seen to be doomed to bureaucratic muddle, injustice and unnecessary expense. There was more than a hint of awareness that individual subscriptions would be augmented by further outgoings, to add to the union subscription which Members were paying ‘because of the failure of institutions to uphold professional status.’ Nonetheless, institution control of registration would be looked for.”
There also seemed to be a sense of dislocation between higher management and welding engineers at the time, with the report showing, “Higher management appreciation of the work of the welding engineer drew some criticism, although possibly less than might have been expected. Those not in the direct line of management can feel a sense of isolation, but more general misgiving concerns the lack of encouragement for qualification. One comment, obviously based on broad knowledge, referred to a parallel situation in respect of welding technicians; it was suggested that few who had made the effort to obtain the City and Guilds 265 welding technicians certificate had been able to secure advancement to technician level.”
Finniston’s Inquiry had also asked for thoughts on recruitment, with The Welding Institute finding that, “Industrial difficulties with the quality of recruitment intake were, however, acknowledged. This was said to affect apprenticeships and entry to the design office, and retraining schemes were thought to be producing an unwelcome dilution of skill.”
The report concluded, “Finally, while the overall burden of comment supported the notion that institutions should be highly influential in the sphere of qualification and professional standards, the more radical view that these matters needed a new approach was also clearly expressed. This was linked with the suggestion that the terms of reference of the Finniston Committee were too restrictive.”
The thoughts of the membership were collected and submitted to Finniston’s Committee of Inquiry along with details of membership regulations, the 1976 annual report, details of training courses, and publications. A Professional Board meeting on 16 March 1978 saw Dr R D Johnston comment that he “felt that the Institute had put forward an extremely well presented submission, though it had to be remembered that it would be one of many to be considered by the Finniston Committee.”
The collection of views from The Welding Institute’s Members was not just of benefit to the Finniston Inquiry, as noted by Professional Board Chairman of the time, Mr FW Copleston, who believed that, “the Finniston Inquiry had provided more information and facts than had been available before,” adding, “It would be desirable to review the whole activity of the Institute in the light of this information and he suggested that senior officers be asked to prepare… documents concerning likely developments in education, training and membership over the next 5 years.”
The final report from the Finniston Inquiry was delivered seven months late (on 16 November 1979) due to the volume of evidence that had to be considered (and dissent among committee members), eventually being published by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in January 1980.
The final report actually recommended that the CEI be abolished and replaced by a new statutory Engineering Authority. This was deemed necessary by Finniston as the CEI had failed to promote engineering adequately or influence UK policy, as well lacking a central purpose for its members. Some CEI members felt that it was too slow to implement change as many decisions required the unanimous consent of all 16 members.
Finniston felt that the new Engineering Authority should assume the responsibility of regulating admission and membership from the individual institutions and that membership grades should be aligned to the educational level of members, corresponding to higher national certificate, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degree levels. Finniston also criticised the level of education offered by British universities when compared to those in Western Europe, recommending that specific engineering degrees were introduced (BEng and MEng) as a foundation for chartered status.
The submission of Finniston’s report was not the end of The Welding Institute’s involvement as we were invited to offer comments on the findings. A meeting was called on 31 January 1980 to “prepare the Institute’s comments on the report of the Finniston Committee” and a working group was set up to draw together the Institute’s comments for submission to the Department of Industry by 1 April 1980.
Despite later concerns (raised at the Conference of Branch Representatives on 5-6 June 1980) that, “there had been very little time for consultation in preparing the Institute’s submission to the Department of Industry,” the Institute’s comments were submitted to the Department of Industry as well as being passed to the CEI and various Members of Parliament.
A document presented at a Professional Board meeting on 27 March 1980 collected the thoughts of The Welding Institute in regard to Finniston’s report.
The Institute accepted the need for an alternative to the CEI with the creation of the Engineering Authority. However, concerns were expressed over the composition of the Authority, believing that, “the Authority should be the expression of the engineering profession and not of the Government.” It was also felt that, “the prime responsibility of the Authority must be to act as an ‘engine for change’ in order to secure a shift in attitudes towards engineering,” but that the “ultimate responsibility for setting standards for education and training and for accreditation” would “more appropriately, efficiently and economically be performed by existing institutions.” This view came from a belief that these aspects “can only be adequately judged by experts” from institutions.
The Welding Institute agreed with the idea of a statutory register but expressed “grave concern” over the idea of making registration independent of institution membership, stating that, “the recommendations with respect to registration will tend to have the effect of depriving the institutions of the means and authority to fulfil the responsibilities specified.” The Institute also argued that those listed on the ERB register should be transferred from the CEI to the Engineering Authority so as not to humiliate those engineering technicians who were currently registered and sow unnecessary division in the engineering workforce.
With regards to accreditation of engineering degree courses, The Institute believed that this should be carried out by the institutions “acting as agents for the Engineering Authority, rather than directly by the Authority itself.”
The Institute did support Finniston’s assertion for the continuing formation of engineers as developed by the Institute’s School of Welding Technology and School of Applied non-Destructive Testing, but raised concerns that “the structure of a first degree course does not take measure of the depth of specialist knowledge that is sometimes involved and brings into question the availability of teaching resources.”
In summary, The Institute accepted that institutions had a continuing role to play but had reservations over registration being “entirely independent of the institutions” as it was felt this would “weaken their authority and deplete their resources.” It was also felt that institutions should retain their role in the education, training and accreditation rather than simply advising the Engineering Authority. The Authority itself should assist the institutions without a “domineering or interfering attitude” that would “cause resentment which would be injurious to the Authority itself.”
The Welding Institute also stated that the Finniston Committee’s recommendations “tend to transfer too many of the proper functions of the institutions to the Engineering Authority,” yet felt that the Authority had an important role to play on promoting engineering as a career in schools and helping to persuade university engineering students that a career in manufacturing “provides job satisfaction fully comparable with that derived from a career in research or design.”
As Professional Board Chairman, Mr Copleston “believed that the Institute had forwarded a very positive and well-prepared contribution” to Finniston’s findings, it was now a matter of waiting for a final outcome.
This impacted the work of The Institute’s Policy Review Committee, especially given that the future of the CEI itself was now in question. The structure of the Institute’s Professional Board, the future role of the Institute and the training programme on offer were all forced to wait for the outcome of Finniston’s recommendations.
There was, however, still an air of discontent over some of Finniston’s assertions, with a Mr Newman commenting that “he was unable to accept the comment in Finniston that the weakness of the engineering industry was due to the incompetence of its engineers,” with a report noting that, “he considered that the fault lay with unsatisfactory conditions at work.”
Several draft charters were submitted and amended in relation to the Finniston Inquiry over the following months, with acting Chair of the Professional Board, Professor Budekin stating on 19 March 1981 that, “the existing Charter of the CEI could only be terminated with the consent of 75% of the existing 185,000 Chartered Engineers, hence the necessity for securing their consent to the new arrangements if a damaging confrontation were to be avoided.”
In the end, the Conservative government opted not to follow Finniston’s recommendations and instead retained the independence and self-regulating nature of institutions. Despite Finniston’s objections, it was also decided that the Engineering Council was established to oversee the profession under royal charter (rather than via parliamentary legislation as would have been the case with a statutory body).
The CEI also rejected Finniston’s findings and instead recommended that three new bodies were established; one for register engineers, one to promote the profession and change the national attitude to engineering, and one to act as a voice to influence national policy towards the profession.
Of the institutions that were part of the CEI, some supported Finniston’s report and others rejected it, opting for continued self-regulation.
Despite the original rejection of Finniston’s recommendations, some of the ideas outlined in the report did end up coming into being.
The government replaced the CEI with the Engineering Council that still operates today and the Engineering Council instigated common record-keeping systems for continuing professional development (CPD) for engineering institutions, bringing the profession in line with accountants, town planners and surveyors who were, at the time, the only other professions to require the formal recording of CPD.
Finniston’s recommendation to implement schemes to increase the number of engineering and science students as well as to attract more women and young people to the profession were realised, including with the 1984 ‘Women into Science and Engineering (WISE)’ campaign. This work has continued over the following decades with a survey in 2000 showing that 72% of respondents rated engineering or science as a good career choice for women, compared to just 56% at the time of Finniston’s report.
Chartered engineer status was restricted by the Engineering Council in 1992, so only applicants with BEng or MEng degrees were accepted. At the same time the industry has become more accessible and is now seen as more desirable than at the time of Finniston’s report, with salaries increasing in some sectors.
Perhaps most tellingly of all, the Engineering Council’s Hamilton Report, released in 2000, found that Finniston’s report had been unfairly labelled as being dirigiste (whereby the state plays an overly directive role that is contrary to its merely regulatory role). In the end, Sir James Hamilton’s report decided that Finniston had actually recommended very little legislative control over the engineering profession. However, Finniston’s report marked a monumental time for the engineering profession and the role of Institutions.
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