Being brave will enable us to move forward post Covid and get the economy going again

ICE President Paul Sheffield CBE talked about infrastructure investment helping to turn the economy around post Covid during his recent virtual visit to Wales (15 & 16 October), one of his final official duties.

ICE President Paul Sheffield
ICE President Paul Sheffield
In his second virtual visit to Wales since the start of the Covid crisis the UK’s top civil engineer had some encouraging words for Welsh engineers, academics and industry specialists. Despite the current Covid-19 health crisis, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) President Paul Sheffield CBE, re-iterated that there are opportunities for the engineering industry to help the economy recover.
ICE has recently been advising UK and devolved governments on how to get the economy moving again through infrastructure and its President believes that embracing new ideas and being brave will enable us to move forward post Covid.

The ICE President said: 

“Development and growth are essential to the recovery of economy. The challenge is how to deliver more for less, which importantly does not necessarily mean cheapest. We must find the most efficient and effective way and reduce waste.”

Paul Sheffield CBE was due to attend a series of meetings in North Wales and he was disappointed at not being able to visit in person as he spent three and a half years living in the heart of Snowdonia during his early career working as Chief Engineer building the Maentwrog New Dam on Trasfnwydd Lake. He took the opportunity of his virtual visit to 'meet' with a group of young engineers at the start of their careers, as well as experienced engineers from all sectors of the industry, taking part in a series of meetings focussed on the tensions of technology in the infrastructure industry as well as looking at what Wales can offer in terms of renewable energies and the future of transport in Wales. 

A student representative from Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Jack Port, was invited to take part in the discussion on technology in the industry and he presented some findings from his research into the last major technological innovation in engineering; Building Information Modelling (BIM), that enables 3D modelling and infrastructure planning. 

North Wales branch members hosted the recent virtual visit to north Wales by ICE President Paul Sheffield

North Wales branch members hosted the recent virtual visit to north Wales by ICE President Paul Sheffield The challenge for the industry has traditionally been the length of time to move to other new technologies and yet Covid-19 has demonstrated the ability of engineers to transition to a new way of working over the course of just two months, which pre Covid could have taken around 18 months.

Paul Sheffield CBE said:

“The key message that came out of that debate was that new technologies must be embraced. Technology must be with the way forward.”

Keith Jones, Director ICE Wales Cymru said:

“We are delighted to welcome the ICE President to Wales to meet and talk to Welsh infrastructure industry representatives and to talk to a number of our young engineers in their early careers and we were particularly happy to have a student representative from Wrexham Glyndŵr University on one of the panels.

“Despite the current Covid restrictions we’ve been able to host this virtual visit by utilising a new technology that has changed the way many of us have used to work at home and kept in contact with each other socially over the last seven months.”