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National celebration of engineering held at Westminster Abbey

The vast contribution engineers make to society was in the spotlight as Westminster Abbey played host to a special national service today (22 November 2018) to celebrate the engineering profession and its work in inspiring the next generation.

The service, the first of its kind, was led by The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, to mark the government’s Year of Engineering and the bicentenary of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). The event was jointly organised by HM Government, ICE, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Representatives from across the engineering community, engineering charities and government gathered together to celebrate great British engineers past and present, including Thomas Telford and Robert Stephenson, who are buried at the Abbey, and the inspiring engineers working at the forefront of innovations that will shape our future.

Students from local schools were also invited to attend, with the service providing a chance to reflect on how industry and government have joined forces throughout 2018 to bring engineering to life for young people from all backgrounds – and the importance of this continuing in 2019 and beyond.

The service included personal testimonies from engineering ambassador Roma Agrawal MBE, Associate Director at AECOM and famed for her work on The Shard, and Colonel Deborah Porter, Deputy Commander of the Defence Medical Group, on how engineering had changed their lives and enabled them to help and inspire others through their work.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS delivering a reading at the service.

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said:

“In a year which has seen government and industry join forces to raise the bar for inspiring the next generation of engineers, what could be more fitting than to come together to celebrate the contribution that engineers have made and will continue to make to all of our lives?

“The Year of Engineering has been a chance to show young people across the UK all that this profession has to offer them – and to spread the message that engineering needs talented young people from all walks of life to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face.

“I hope today’s service serves as an important reminder not just of our proud engineering history but of the role young people will play in writing its next chapter.”

Andrew Wyllie CBE, ICE President, said:

“This special occasion gives ICE an opportunity to celebrate its bicentenary and to thank its members for the positive impact they have made to all our lives. Civil engineers have transformed people’s lives for the better and will safeguard the future for their families. As we come together to celebrate the passion, creativity, and commitment which exists across all engineering, we also recognise the importance of inspiring and nurturing a new generation of engineers.”

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Engineering expertise will be critical to tackling the global challenges we face in the years to come. Engineers will play a central role in addressing the effects of climate change and rising sea levels, and in ensuring that our growing population will have access to food, water, clean energy and affordable healthcare. We hope future generations will be inspired by the opportunities engineering offers to shape their world, to discover new ways to improve lives in the future and to help meet the needs of the twenty first century and beyond.”

Find out about the Year of Engineering, including activities, events, videos and school resources.

Note to editors:

  1. About the Institution of Civil Engineers

    The Institution of Civil Engineers has reached a rare milestone in 2018 – a bicentenary.

    ICE 200 is a perfect chance to celebrate the institution’s longevity, recognise the profession of civil engineering and most importantly the thousands of members who make the institution what it is. ICE is using the bicentenary as an opportunity to remind the general public that civil engineers transform their lives for the better and safeguard the future for their families. In doing so, the Institution also hopes to encourage young people to see civil engineering as a creative, rewarding and highly enjoyable career.

  2. About the Year of Engineering

    The Year of Engineering is a Government campaign which aims to encourage young people from different backgrounds, and their teachers and parents, to take a closer look at the opportunities engineering careers offer. The campaign sees Government join forces with more than 1,400 partners from industry, education and the charity sector with the aim of giving young people one million direct experiences of engineering. Engineering makes a major contribution to the UK economy, but the sector faces a major skills gap and lack of diversity – there is an annual shortage of 20,000 engineering graduates each year, only 12% of the engineering workforce is female, and less than 8% comes from a black, Asian or ethnic minority background.

  3. About the Royal Academy of Engineering

    As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society. We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession.

    We have three strategic challenges:
    – Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    – Address the engineering skills crisis
    – Position engineering at the heart of society

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