Presidential Blog: An exciting first month

Presidential Blog: An exciting first month

10th July 2024

It is hard to believe that a month has passed since my Presidential Address. I always knew what a privilege being President of IChemE would be – I never quite appreciated how interesting and exciting it could be at the same time.

My year kicked off with the IChemE AGM on 11 June, which – alongside the usual business – saw the passing of three Special Resolutions. This included the intention to provide a class of Fellow ‘decoupled’ from CEng. This will enable us to be more inclusive to new members, including those with significant contributions to chemical and process engineering from a wider range of backgrounds.

It was a particular pleasure to chair my first Board of Trustees meeting in person. I was delighted to welcome new Trustees – Alan Harper (Vice President, Qualifications), Joan Cordiner (Vice President, Learned Society), Tawana Muchatuta (Regional Member, Rest of World), and Helen Ramsay and Paul McLaughlin as Ordinary Members. With such enthusiastic and committed Trustees, I am confident IChemE will continue to evolve and grow. It was also an opportunity to thank departing Trustees for their service and commitment – David Bogle, Alexandra Meldrum, Rob Best, Mark Sutton, Macsene Isles-Ahite, and Rhys Tucker.

While the Trustees and Congress members were in Rugby, we held a networking lunch with the IChemE staff team. This gave everyone an opportunity to thank Nigel Hirst for all he has done during his Presidential Year. I outlined my priorities for the next twelve months – notably our role as chemical engineers in making sustainability a reality, and the importance of encouraging the next generation of engineers.

We also had two energising in-person workshop sessions during that week – one inviting Congress members and Trustees to contemplate the future of our profession in the next 40 to 50 years, and the second looking at how we make it even more important and attractive for everyone working in and contributing to chemical and process engineering to join our ranks. Key messages included simplifying our processes, particularly around membership, while ensuring we maintain standards, and ensuring we are welcoming to those with technical and non-degree backgrounds who are so important in making so many of our sectors tick.

Finally, during that exciting and action-packed week, it was a real pleasure to welcome everyone to my Presidential Address - 'History, Science and Engineering a sustainable future' – in the impressive setting of Burlington House. If you missed it, the video is available now on our YouTube channel.

Since then, I have been meeting as many members as I can and endlessly interested by your stories and views. This includes two hugely inspiring groups of young members and future engineers, at the online final of the Davidson Inventors Challenge and in person at our inaugural Young Engineers’ Awards for Innovation and Sustainability. I was greatly impressed by the enthusiasm and projects I saw – I hope very much that one legacy of my Presidential Year will be an expansion of these activities to include young members across the globe.