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Event Organiser: ICE

2020 Smeaton Lecture: The Consulting Engineers, online

  • Webinar
  • Online
  • 21 July 2020
  • 18:45 - 20:35
2020 Smeaton Lecture: The Consulting Engineers, online

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The Consulting Engineers. The British consulting engineers who created the world’s infrastructure

With the support of the Smeatonian Society, this lecture has been named after John Smeaton, FRS, the founding father of civil engineering in this country, whose professional standards have provided a model for excellence for all who have followed him.

The lecture was instituted in 1991 to coincide with the evening of Institution’s Annual General Meeting. The lecture is on a theme related to the history and development of civil engineering, of interest to a broad cross-section of the membership and their guests.

The lecture will tell the extraordinary story of British consulting engineers from their early beginnings, through the establishment of the profession in the 18th century, the `Railway Age’ of the 1800s, their post-World War Two international boom and on to the recent commercialisation and consolidation of the industry.

It will explain how these engineers created most of the infrastructure in most of the world for most of the 19th century, and did so again (for the developing world) during the post-war years. It is a remarkable success story, peppered with some spectacular failures.

This will be followed by a 30-minute panel discussion around what lessons have been learned from the past and how they could be used to shape the future of civil engineering.

This is linked to the book: The Consulting Engineers: The British consulting engineers who created the world's infrastructure, published in January 2020 and available from the ICE Bookshop.

The audience of the lecture asked 32 questions, which have been answered in the document below, under 'Download Event Materials.'


18:45 ICE President Paul Sheffield’s opening remarks
18:50 Main lecture
19:35 Questions & discussion
19:55 Vote of thanks – Douglas Oakervee, CBE FREng, President, Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers
20:00 Lecture closes
20:05 Panel discussion (duration 30mins) ‘What have we learnt from the past and what do we want for the future?’ with ICE Future Leaders
20:35 Event closes


Hugh Ferguson BSc(Eng) CEng FICE MCIHT

Hugh Ferguson

Hugh’s engineering experience includes work with consulting engineers Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas in Boston, USA, and R Travers Morgan & Partners & Partners in London and Dublin. He was Editor (later Editor-in-Chief) of ICE’s weekly magazine New Civil Engineer from 1976 to 1990, establishing the NCE Consultants File in 1979. He was Managing Director of ICE’s commercial company Thomas Telford Ltd from 1991 to 2008, and was ICE’s Deputy Director General from 2005 to 2009.

He writes regularly for engineering publications, including the Royal Academy of Engineering’s magazine Ingenia. His books include Constructionarium (2016), Engineers (co-author, 2012 and 2017) and the trilogy (with Mike Chrimes) The Civil Engineers (2011), The Contractors (2014) and The Consulting Engineers (2020).

Holly Smith MEng GMICE MWES

Graduate Engineer, Mott MacDonald

ICE President’s Future Leader

Holly Smith

Since graduating from the University of Bristol, she has been working as a site engineer for two years with Skanska. Having also gained undergraduate site experience with Taylor Woodrow, she worked on the construction of some of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects, such as Crossrail and High Speed 2.

At the moment, she is on secondment from Skanska to Mott MacDonald’s Tunnelling Department based in Reading to gain technical civil engineering design experience. She is currently responsible for undertaking the detailed design of segment connections for the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Expansion project in the United States.

Hayley Jackson MEng GMICE

Site Engineer, Balfour Beatty VINCI HS2

ICE President’s Future Leader

Holly Smith

Hayley graduated with a First-Class Honours Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nottingham in July 2018. During her time at university, she was an ICE Undergraduate QUEST Scholar, sponsored by Taylor Woodrow. She completed three summer placements on Victoria Dock Portal and Whitechapel Station, Crossrail and the M5 Junction 4a-6 Smart Motorway Upgrade.

After graduation, Hayley joined Taylor Woodrow (VINCI Construction) as an Assistant Engineer working on HS2 in Birmingham, Phase 1 North, as part of the Early Works Contractor in the Land Access team. She has since been promoted to a Site Engineer working in Pre-Construction where she is responsible for defining construction methodologies and planning for when works start on site.

Tim Hou MEng GMICE

Assistant Civil Engineer; Mott MacDonald

ICE President’s Future Leader

Tim Hou

Having graduated from the University of Surrey in 2017, Tim currently works as an assistant civil engineer at Mott MacDonald within their Foundations and Geotechnics department. He has been fortunate to work within a variety of project teams on both UK and international major infrastructure projects. Presently he is a work package lead working on Heathrow Expansion, helping to manage various packages to satisfy the requirement for the DCO application

Joseph Marner MEng GMICE

Engineer, WSP

ICE President’s Future Leader

Holly Smith

Joseph studied a Civil Engineering Master’s degree at the University of Bristol, which included a one-year Erasmus exchange in Lyon, France. After graduating in 2016, he joined the WSP Rail business, where he worked in various project management roles (Great Western Electrification Project, Network Rail Anglia Renewals Framework), in construction and logistics (HS2 Old Oak Common, Norwich Western Link, Sizewell C), and structural engineering (HS2 Old Oak Common). He is the current chair and active member of the ICE London Graduates and Students Committee.

Event venue

United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Gabrielle Knowles

e: [email protected]