The Dugald Clerk Lecture is a biennial prestige lecture held in honor of Dugald Clerk (1854-1932), the Scottish engineer who designed the world’s first successful two-stroke engine.
An ICE bequest established a lecture in his honor, to be on ‘subjects connected with mechanical engineering and, or, water or coastal structures’. The Dugald Clerk lecture has become the ICE’s prestige lecture for the water sector, alternating each year with the Gerald Lacey Lecture.
This year’s lecture takes place at a time of potentially significant change for the water sector, with Ofwat having launched a £200 million Water Innovation Fund for 2021 to drive a step change in the innovation capabilities in the water sector; the first round opened in January 2021, the second round will open in Spring 2021. Climate change, Covid-related financial constraints, and changing patterns of water usage due to population growth or relocation, all significantly increase the need for innovation in the water sector, and Ofwat’s Water Innovation Fund is a direct response to these pressures and opportunities for change. Civil engineers are key to this process, and therefore this year’s Dugald Clerk lecture is particularly focused on the insights gained from experienced practicing engineers and how they can be applied to enable the innovations needed.
In this lecture, Alison Fergusson, Principal Engineer, PR24, and Associate Director, Ofwat, will discuss three key issues for the current water sector in England and Wales.
The first is about the purpose of water infrastructure for society. What are we really trying to do, in the face of population growth, climate change, our need for resilience, the public’s changing expectations, and last but by no means least, affordability for people during and after the Covid-19 pandemic? The water sector needs to think afresh about its solutions.
The second issue is the importance of innovation in the water sector, where Ofwat is this year running two rounds of a £200 million Innovation Fund. This is not just about technology but can be about innovative ideas from other sectors being tried in the water industry, or perhaps different ways of working.
The third issue is large investment projects in the water sector, including Ofwat’s ‘Direct Procurement for Customers’ (DPC) approach. This is a new method for structuring the delivery of large projects in the water sector, and therefore highly relevant for today’s practising civil engineers.
Throughout, Alison will be drawing on her experience of using her engineering skills even on activities that aren’t directly related to on-site delivery.
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