Institution of Civil Engineers

Last updated

Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Civil Engineers.svg
Formation2 January 1818;204 years ago (1818-01-02)
TypeCivil engineering professional association
  • Professional qualification
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Promotion of profession
Professional title
Chartered Civil Engineer
Headquarters One Great George Street
London, SW1
FieldsCivil engineering
Membership (2020)
5,229 Fellows
39,925 Members
92,829 all grades
(as of December 2020) [1]
Ed McCann [2]
Director General
Nick Baveystock
Subsidiaries Thomas Telford Ltd
Website OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is an independent professional association for civil engineers and a charitable body in the United Kingdom. Based in London, ICE has over 92,000 members, of whom three-quarters are located in the UK, while the rest are located in more than 150 other countries. The ICE aims to support the civil engineering profession by offering professional qualification, promoting education, maintaining professional ethics, and liaising with industry, academia and government. Under its commercial arm, it delivers training, recruitment, publishing and contract services. As a professional body, ICE aims to support and promote professional learning (both to students and existing practitioners), managing professional ethics and safeguarding the status of engineers, and representing the interests of the profession in dealings with government, etc. It sets standards for membership of the body; works with industry and academia to progress engineering standards and advises on education and training curricula.



Window at ICE headquarters commemorating its founding ICE editathon - One Great George Street - 19 July 2013 08.JPG
Window at ICE headquarters commemorating its founding

The late 18th century and early 19th century saw the founding of many learned societies and professional bodies (for example, the Royal Society and the Law Society). Groups calling themselves civil engineers had been meeting for some years from the late 18th century, notably the Society of Civil Engineers formed in 1771 by John Smeaton (renamed the Smeatonian Society after his death). At that time, formal engineering in Britain was limited to the military engineers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, and in the spirit of self-help prevalent at the time and to provide a focus for the fledgling 'civilian engineers', the Institution of Civil Engineers was founded as the world's first professional engineering body.

The initiative to found the Institution was taken in 1818 by eight young engineers, Henry Robinson Palmer (23), William Maudslay (23), Thomas Maudslay (26), James Jones (28), Charles Collinge (26), John Lethbridge, James Ashwell (19) and Joshua Field (32), who held an inaugural meeting on 2 January 1818, at the Kendal Coffee House in Fleet Street. [3] The institution made little headway until a key step was taken – the appointment of Thomas Telford as the first President of the body. Greatly respected within the profession and blessed with numerous contacts across the industry and in government circles, he was instrumental in drumming up membership and getting a Royal Charter for ICE in 1828. This official recognition helped establish ICE as the pre-eminent organisation for engineers of all disciplines.

Early definitions of a Civil Engineer can be found in the discussions held on 2 January 1818 and in the application for Royal Chartership. [4] In 1818 Palmer said that:

An Engineer is a mediator between the Philosopher and the working Mechanic; and like an interpreter between two foreigners must understand the language of both. The Philosopher searches into Nature and discovers her laws, and promulgates the principles and adapts them to our circumstances. The working Mechanic, governed by the superintendence of the Engineer, brings his ideas into reality. Hence the absolute necessity of possessing both practical and theoretical knowledge.

When the time came to apply for a Charter it was clearly necessary to define the profession ... the council applied to Thomas Tredgold to propose some suitable description. The result was the now well-known definition of Civil Engineering as "the art of directing the great sources of power in Nature for the use and convenience of man," and this was embodied in the Charter.

The objects of such institution, as recited in the charter, and reported in The Times , [5] were

The general advancement of mechanical science, and more particularly for promoting the acquisition of that species of knowledge which constitutes the profession of a civil engineer; being the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man, as the means of production and of traffic in states, both for external and internal trade, as applied in the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, river navigation, and docks, for internal intercourse and exchange; and in the construction of ports, harbours, moles, breakwaters, and light-houses, and in the art of navigation by artificial power, for the purposes of commerce; and in the construction and adaptation of machinery, and in the drainage of cities and towns.

The Institution's headquarters at One Great George Street in London Instituion of Civil Engineers.jpg
The Institution's headquarters at One Great George Street in London

After Telford's death in 1834, the organisation moved into premises in Great George Street in the heart of Westminster in 1839, and began to publish learned papers on engineering topics. Its members, notably William Cubitt, were also prominent in the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

For 29 years ICE provided the forum for engineers practising in all the disciplines recognised today. Mechanical engineer and tool-maker Henry Maudslay was an early member and Joseph Whitworth presented one of the earliest papers – it was not until 1847 that the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was established (with George Stephenson as its first President). [6]

By the end of the 19th century, ICE had introduced examinations for professional engineering qualifications to help ensure and maintain high standards among its members – a role it continues today.

The ICE's Great George Street headquarters, designed by James Miller, was built by John Mowlem & Co and completed in 1911. [7]

A 50 year-membership certificate Peter Hines 50 years Institute Civil Engineers.jpg
A 50 year-membership certificate

Membership and professional qualification

The institution is a membership organisation comprising 92,829members worldwide (as of 31 December 2020); around three-quarters are located in the United Kingdom. [1] Membership grades include: [8]

ICE is a licensed body of the Engineering Council and can award the Chartered Engineer (CEng), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Engineering Technician (EngTech) professional qualifications. [9] Members who are Chartered Engineers can use the protected title Chartered Civil Engineer. [10]

ICE is also licensed by the Society for the Environment to award the Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) professional qualification. [11]


Copies of the Proceedings of the ICE in the Great George Street library ICE editathon - One Great George Street - 19 July 2013 68.JPG
Copies of the Proceedings of the ICE in the Great George Street library

The Institution of Civil Engineers also publishes technical studies covering research and best practice in civil engineering. Under its commercial arm, Thomas Telford Ltd, it delivers training, recruitment, publishing and contract services, such as the NEC Engineering and Construction Contract. All the profits of Thomas Telford Ltd go back to the Institution to further its stated aim of putting civil engineers at the heart of society. The publishing division has existed since 1836 and is today called ICE Publishing. ICE Publishing produces roughly 30 books a year, including the ICE Manuals series, and 30 civil engineering journals, including the ICE Proceedings in eighteen parts, Géotechnique, and the Magazine of Concrete Research. The ICE Science series is now also published by ICE Publishing. ICE Science currently consists of five journals: Nanomaterials and Energy, Emerging Materials Research, Bioinspired, Biomimetic and Nanobiomaterials, Green Materials and Surface Innovations.

ICE members, except for students, also receive the New Civil Engineer magazine (published weekly from 1995 to 2017 by Emap, now published monthly by Metropolis International).

Specialist Knowledge Societies

The ICE also administers 15 Specialist Knowledge Societies created at different times to support special interest groups within the civil engineering industry, some of which are British sections of international and/or European bodies. The societies provide continuing professional development and assist in the transfer of knowledge concerning specialist areas of engineering. [12]

The Specialist Knowledge Societies are:


The institution is governed by the ICE Trustee Board, comprising the President, three Vice Presidents, four members elected from the membership, three ICE Council members, and one nominated member. [13] The President is the public face of the institution and day-to-day management is the responsibility of the Director General. [14]


The ICE President is elected annually and the holder for 2021–2022 is Ed McCann.

Each year a number of young engineers have been chosen as President's apprentices. [15] The scheme was started in 2005 during the Presidency of Gordon Masterton, who also initiated a President's blog, now the ICE Infrastructure blog. [16] Each incoming President sets out the main theme of his or her year of office in a Presidential Address.

Many of the profession's greatest engineers have served as President of the ICE including:

One of Britain's greatest engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel died before he could take up the post (he was vice-president from 1850).

Female civil engineers

The first woman member of ICE was Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan in 1927. The first female Fellows elected were Molly Fergusson (1957), Marie Lindley (1972), Helen Stone (1991) and Joanna Kennedy (1992). [17] [18]

The two female Presidents (to date) are Jean Venables, who became the 144th holder of the office in 2008, [19] and Rachel Skinner, who became President in November 2020.

In January 1969 the Council of the Institution set up a working party to consider the role of women in engineering. Among its conclusions were that 'while women have certainly established their competence throughout the professional engineering field, there is clearly a built-in or unconscious prejudice against them'. [20] The WISE Campaign (Women into Science and Engineering) was launched in 1984; by 1992 3% of the total ICE membership of 79,000 was female, and only 0.8% of chartered civil engineers were women. [21] By 2016 women comprised nearly 12% of total membership, almost 7% of chartered civil engineers and just over 2% of Fellows. [14] In June 2015 a Presidential Commission on diversity was announced. [22]


The ICE library at One Great George Street Institution of Civil Engineers - One Great George Street - Library.JPG
The ICE library at One Great George Street

The Institution makes various awards to recognise the work of its members. In addition to awards for technical papers, reports and competition entries it awards medals for different achievements.

Student chapters

The ICE has student chapters in several countries including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Malta, Pakistan, Poland, Sudan, Trinidad, and United Arab Emirates. [27]


Coat of arms of Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Civil Engineers Escutcheon.png
Arms granted 17 March 1913, crest and supporters 31 December 1948 [28]
On a wreath of the colours upon a billet fessewise Azure charged with a fesse wavy argent a representation of the Eddystone lighthouse upon rocks Proper.
Or on a pale azure between two annulets in fesse Sable a thunderbolt between in chief a sun in splendour of the first and in base a fountain Proper.
On the dexter side a beaver and on the sinister a crane both Proper.
Scientia Et Ingenio

See also

Related Research Articles

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is a UK-based learned society and professional body that works to advance physics education, research and application.

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT British professional body in IT

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, known as the British Computer Society until 2009, is a professional body and a learned society that represents those working in information technology (IT) and computer science, both in the United Kingdom and internationally. Founded in 1956, BCS has played an important role in educating and nurturing IT professionals, computer scientists, computer engineers, upholding the profession, accrediting chartered IT professional status, and creating a global community active in promoting and furthering the field and practice of computing.

Institution of Engineers (India) National organization of engineers in India

The Institution of Engineers (India) is the national organization of engineers in India. The Institution of Engineers (India) has more than one million members in 15 engineering disciplines in 125 centers or chapters in India and overseas; it is the world's largest multi-disciplinary engineering professional society in the engineering and technology world. The Institution of Engineers (India) was established in 1920 in Kolkata, West Bengal, and is acclaimed to have pioneered non-formal education in engineering. The Institution of Engineers (India) conducts an examination of its associate membership. This examination is considered to be on par with B.E. / B.Tech. When contemplated as an eligibility qualification to write competitive examinations like the Indian Civil Service, Indian Engineering Services, GATE, etc., and for employment in Government, public and private sectors in India. This qualification is recognized by the Ministry of HRD, the government of India, as equivalent to B.E./ B.Tech. The Institution of Engineers (India) was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1935. It is currently headquartered at 8 Gokhale Road, Kolkata.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is an independent professional association and learned society headquartered in London, United Kingdom, that represents mechanical engineers and the engineering profession. With over 120,000 members in 140 countries, working across industries such as railways, automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, energy, biomedical and construction, the Institution is licensed by the Engineering Council to assess candidates for inclusion on its Register of Chartered Engineers, Incorporated Engineers and Engineering Technicians.

Institution of Engineering and Technology Professional engineering institution

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution. The IET was formed in 2006 from two separate institutions: the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), dating back to 1871, and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) dating back to 1884. Its worldwide membership is currently in excess of 158,000 in 153 countries. The IET's main offices are in Savoy Place in London, England and at Michael Faraday House in Stevenage, England.

The Engineering Council is the UK's regulatory authority for registration of Chartered and Incorporated engineers and engineering technician, holding a register of these and providing advice to students, engineers, employers and academic institutions on the standards for registration and procedures for registration. It is also responsible for the accreditation of educational and training programs, delegating this responsibility to licensed member institutions.

Brigadier-General Sir Alexander Gibb was a Scottish civil engineer. After serving as Civil Engineer-in-Chief to the Admiralty and Director-General of Civil Engineering at the Ministry of Transport, he established the engineering consultancy firm Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners.

The Society of Engineers was a British learned society established in 1854. It was the first society to issue the professional title of Incorporated Engineer. It merged with the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) in 2005, and in 2006 the merged body joined with the Institution of Electrical Engineers to become the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

Institution of Chemical Engineers

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) is a global professional engineering institution with over 33,000 members worldwide. It was founded in 1922 and awarded a Royal Charter in 1957.

William Unwin British civil and mechanical engineer

William Cawthorne Unwin FRS was a British civil and mechanical engineer. He is noted for his extensive work on hydraulics and engines as well as his close association with William Fairbairn. He is one of only a few men who have served as president of both the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Unwin served as an engineering advisor to the government during the First World War and was the first recipient of the Kelvin Gold Medal awarded by the Institution of Civil Engineers.

John Griffith (engineer) Welsh politician (1848-1938)

Sir John Purser Griffith was a Welsh-born Irish civil engineer and politician.

The Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers was founded in England in 1771. It was the first engineering society to be formed anywhere in the world, and remains the oldest. It was originally known as the Society of Civil Engineers, being renamed following its founder's death.

Telford Medal

The Telford Medal is a prize awarded by the British Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) for a paper or series of papers. It was introduced in 1835 following a bequest made by Thomas Telford, the ICE's first president. It can be awarded in gold, silver or bronze; the Telford Gold Medal is the highest award the institution can bestow.

Engineers Australia

The Institution of Engineers Australia, often shortened to IEAust and/or trading as Engineers Australia (EA), is a professional body and not-for-profit organisation dedicated to being the national forum for the advancement of the engineering field within Australia and a member of Washington Accord. As of 2017, it has around 100,000 members in nine geographic Divisions and five international chapters from all engineering disciplines, including 41,000 Students, 4,400 Engineering Technologists and Engineering Associates, 55,600 Professional Engineers. The members all belong to one or more of nine Colleges covering the different fields of engineering practice. 20,000 members are Chartered Engineers.

John Vernon Bartlett was a British civil engineer, particularly associated with developments in tunnelling technologies. He was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers from November 1982 to November 1983, and received various industry honours including the Telford and Sir Frank Whittle Medals.

David Gwilym Morris Roberts was a British civil engineer, cited as "one of the most influential civil engineers of the 20th century". Born in North Wales, he grew up in Merseyside before attending Cambridge University. Following graduation, he served with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, including several cruises on board HMS Sheffield. After demobilisation he served part-time with the naval reserves reaching the rank of lieutenant commander. In civilian life Roberts was employed by water engineering consultant John Taylor & Sons and remained with them and their successor bodies for the rest of his career. He became founder chairman of the successor Acer Consultants in 1987, holding the post for five years, during which the group's turnover quadrupled and employee numbers trebled.

Sir Horace William Alexander Francis CBE FREng is a British civil engineer.

Professor Jean Venables CBE, BSc (Eng), MSc, DSc, FREng, CEng, CEnv, FICE, FCGI, MCIWEM is a British civil engineer who in November 2008 became the 144th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the first woman to be elected to the position.

The Finniston Report was a report into the engineering profession in the United Kingdom, commissioned in 1979 by the Labour government. Led by Monty Finniston it investigated how well the professional institutions were serving their members and whether it was desirable to introduce statutory regulation of the industry. It recommended abolition of the Council of Engineering Institutions (CEI), the establishment of a statutory Engineering Authority to regulate the profession, and the introduction of engineer's degrees. After its publication in 1980 the then-Conservative government decided against statutory regulation but replaced the CEI with the Engineering Council (EC). The EC would later restrict admission to the status of chartered engineer to those with engineer's degrees. The EC's 2000 Hamilton Report stated that the Finniston Report had been unfairly labeled as dirigiste and that it had actually recommended little direct legislative control over the profession.


  1. 1 2 "Annual Report and Accounts 2020" (PDF). Institution of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  2. "Ed McCann inaugurated as ICE President with productivity call" . Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  3. Garth Watson (1988). The Civils – The story of the Institution of Civil Engineers. London: Thomas Telford. p. 9.
  4. Anon (1928). A Brief History of the Institution of Civil Engineers with an Account of the Charter Centenary Celebration June 1928. London: William Clowes and Sons. pp. 11 & 17. ASIN   B019QJ6TTQ.
  5. The Times, London, article CS102127326, dated 30 June 1828, retrieved 30 April 2004
  6. IMEchE Presidents Archived 6 September 2013 at (accessed 6 September 2013)
  7. Port, M. H. "Burt family (per. c.1830–1964)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/51893.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. "Grades of ICE membership". ICE. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  9. "Professional Engineering Institutions". Engineering Council . Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  10. "How to become a professionally qualified civil engineer". ICE. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  11. "Licensed Partners". Society for the Environment . Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  12. "Specialist Knowledge Societies". ICE. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  13. "Meet our trustee board". ICE. Retrieved 25 April 2022.
  14. 1 2 "Annual Report and Accounts 2015" (PDF). ICE. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  15. "ICE President's Apprentices" . Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  16. "ICE Infrastructure Blog" . Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  17. "Helen Stone becomes 3rd woman Fellow". CNPlus 22 August 1991. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  18. "Who says engineers lack culture". Construction Index 17 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  19. Institution of Civil Engineers. "Past Presidents". Archived from the original on 22 August 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  20. "Report of the Working Party on the role of women in engineering". ICE Proceedings. 48 (2): 343–354. 1 February 1971. doi:10.1680/iicep.1971.6467.
  21. "For she's a jolly good Fellow". Arup Bulletin. July 1992.
  22. Hansford, Mark (25 June 2015). "Change bringer". New Civil Engineer: 20. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  23. Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers. Vol. II. London: Thomas Telford Publishing. March 2008. ISBN   978-0-7277-3504-1 . Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  24. "Jean Venables Medal". Institution of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "This year's ICE Awards sees top gold medal go to Kier's Paul Glass". Institution of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  26. 1 2 3 "Professional review awards". Institution of Civil Engineers. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  27. "ICE student chapters". ICE. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  28. "Institution of Civil Engineers". Heraldry of the World. Retrieved 29 April 2022.