Presidential Blog: Engineering a sustainable world

Presidential Blog: Engineering a sustainable world

29th September 2023

In a blog brimming with updates and new initiatives, IChemE President Nigel Hirst talks about the focus of our new strategy to engineer a sustainable world, feeling inspired following an evening with chemical engineering students, encouraging members to offer their time to become a mentor, and an upcoming event for recently elected Fellows.

Name: Nigel Hirst

Role: IChemE President 2023-2024

‘Engineering a sustainable world’ is IChemE’s new vision and, if you haven’t already, you will start to see this referenced across many of our initiatives as it underpins everything we do to champion our profession and benefit society. This new vision is at the heart of our new Strategy28+ which outlines our plans for the next five years and beyond. Our strategic goals cover supporting a vibrant and thriving profession, and serving society by collaborating with others. For a whistlestop tour of the strategy, take a look at our new animation at

Strategy28+ includes five enablers which underpin the strategy to ensure the goals are achieved. One of these talks about supporting and developing members at all stages of their career journeys, and to this end it was fantastic to meet students and future chemical engineers at Newcastle University this month. Their questions, insight and challenges reassured me that the future of our profession is in safe hands.

In the spirit of collaboration, last week I met with colleagues at the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE) to discuss areas where our two organisations can benefit by working together. I’ve previously mentioned that hydrogen is on the list but we also have plans to collaborate in the areas of engineering ethics and influencing the sustainability debate amongst policy makers. I’m excited to see how much we can achieve as it goes without saying that together we have a louder voice.

Another area where we are looking to work together - with AIChE and others - is in raising the profile of chemical engineering with young people, teachers and their other influencers. This is a global issue, both enabling young people to make a difference and making a difference to their lives, which requires global collaboration if we are to shift the dial.

On the same topic of influencing future engineers, if you haven’t spotted them yet, I’d like to draw your attention to our fantastic new series of classroom posters which aims to demonstrate how chemical engineers play a vital role in addressing the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. These posters have been developed as part of the DiscoverChemEng campaign and there are posters to appeal to different age groups from primary school to post-16-year-olds. Please take a look and feel free to share the posters with teachers, volunteers involved in outreach or your wider network.

Being elected as a Fellow of IChemE, our highest grade of membership, is to be celebrated and I have been keen to offer more opportunities for our Fellows to meet, share news and views, and discuss how best to achieve our goals. Plans are afoot to bring together recently elected Fellows and recognise their success with an event hosted by myself which will include an opportunity to visit a site of significant engineering interest. I hope this will be a real success and set a precedent for future activities. The event will likely take place next spring but of course I’ll let you know more as plans develop.

I’ve talked before about the importance of having a good mentor, whether that’s to provide advice when applying for chartered status or more general career mentoring. To ramp up our mentoring support to members, of course we need mentors – so if you think you could help a new chemical engineer land their first job or give advice on how to build a professional network for example, please get in touch as we are building a pool of mentors willing to share their time and expertise to make a real difference.

As always, if you have any ideas or questions you would like to put to me, or have any feedback on the above, I very much welcome your thoughts - please send me an email to I look forward to hearing from you.

Previous presidential blogs

August 2023 - Futureproofing the profession

July 2023 - The hard work starts now!