Article written for the ICE London’s newsletter in my capacity as Chair of the London Graduates and Students.

Touring the Capital with ICE President Paul Jowitt

ICE President Paul Jowitt’s visit to the London Region.

At the beginning of March I was invited to tour the Capital with ICE President Paul Jowitt. The day long tour was his formal visit to the London Region. I always find the President’s visit to the London Region a funny thing because the President inevitably spends a large portion of his time in the area anyway; nevertheless the President’s visit is intended to be the time at which he or she is formally given a tour of the London Region to hear about the work that this region of the ICE has been up to, as well as to find out about the engineering projects taking shape at the moment. The story of the day was two-fold: great engineering works, and great work being carried out by the ICE London Region volunteers and staff.

The day started with a tour of the Olympic Site. We met at the View Tube, the Olympic Park’s luminous visitor centre from where all the main stadia can be seen whilst munching on the most up-market breakfast butty (read ciabatta) in town. Touring the site in a bus, our tour guides went to great lengths to tell the story of the engineering that we couldn’t see: the park’s extensive infrastructure and enabling works, which were up for an award at the evening’s ICE Merit Awards.

A sprint across town took us to the BBC for lunchtime where we met a group teenagers taking part in an ICE/BBC/Collaboration. The group had been filming interviews with members of the public about Crossrail. We joined them while they were making edits to their films in the BBC’s edit suite designed specifically for school groups. All were amazed by just how the students came alive on camera. One participant didn’t realise that he had managed to coller former Controller of BBC One Alan Yentob into doing an interview. That same student said to me later that it had been the best day of his life. Full credit then to Susan Clements at the ICE who had put this event together.

After lunch in the notorious BBC canteen (do people still make jokes about it? If they do, I don’t see why: it was at least as upmarket as the view tube), another sprint took us back to ICE Headquarters for the President’s meeting with representatives from the ICE London’s Graduate and Students Committee. The session, organised by G&S Vice Chair Kiran Gowda, focused international development, one of the President’s special interest topics for the year, and the role that graduates and students can take in development. The session was a discussion between experts from the field including representatives from Engineers Without Borders and Practical Action, and graduates and students who had secured their place by writing in beforehand with questions that they would like to ask.

The finale to the day was the ICE London Merit Awards, held at the London Transport Museum. The museum made for an exciting venue. This high-profile event celebrated the best of the capital’s recent engineering. Of course the Shards and the Olympic Parks of the line-up did very well – impressive engineering that deserves celebrating – but I was especially glad to see the work of council engineers being celebrated. The judges gave a special award to a small group of local authority engineers who had improved the pedestrian spaces in Woolwich town centre – as important, if not more so, than than structural gymnastics of sky scrapers.

All in all a fascinating, enjoyable and thoroughly exhausting day. A big thank you to Miranda and her team for putting together such a great programme of events.