The interdisciplinary jigsaw – developing the engineering future
Engineers are activists for creativity and champions of novelty and innovation. They have essential links with other fields, most obviously the sciences, architecture and design.
Many more links are developing with the emergence of new applications and markets. The biomedical and space sectors are examples of industries that benefit from a range of engineering disciplines coming together.
Engineers know that their work does not take place in isolation. Their inputs are from societal needs, different areas of engineering and from the basic sciences; both physical and increasingly, social.
Outputs, although typically in the context of a particular sector, are always destined to serve people and society. Challenges include an ever-increasing pace of technical development and also changes in marketplaces, plus the need in a professional career to keep up with these changes..
It is vital that we recognise the value of engineering in innovation and support it throughout the development of individuals’ practicing careers. To do this we need further education programmes that address engineering from an integrated and ‘systems’ point of view.
Personal development following this principle will ready engineers for interesting, creative, productive and varied careers that enable them to ‘make a difference’ to society as they tackle many challenges across a number of different sectors.
The IET is differentiating itself by providing a broad interdisciplinary backbone of knowledge, services and activities, whilst recognising that specialist engineering themes require more support than ever before.
The incoming IET President, Jeremy Watson, will use his own career to illustrate the benefit of ‘synergistic development’ through his roles in industry, government and universities.
He will show how experience in one sector can provide value in another and suggest how professional development can support this vision.
In his Presidential Address, Jeremy will present the case for interdisciplinary and inclusive approaches to education, professional engineering support and career development. He will explore the learning, knowledge and networking needs of engineers from a variety of sectors and backgrounds – and explain how the IET is working to serve them.
Professor Jeremy Watson, CBE FREng FIET FICE
Vice-Dean of Engineering Sciences and Professor of Engineering Systems, University College London
Chief Scientist & Engineer, BRE
Jeremy Watson is Vice-Dean for Engineering Mission and Professor of Engineering Systems in the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy at UCL.
Concurrently, he is Chief Scientist and Engineer at the Building Research Establishment (BRE). Jeremy was previously Arup’s Global Research Director, and Chief Scientific Advisor in the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
An electronics and control engineer by training and practice, he has senior experience of research and technical direction in industry and universities, governing board membership at Innovate UK and EPSRC, plus service with NERC and HEFCE.
He has served on two government SAGE panels (Flooding and Pandemics) and a Blackett Review on Cybersecurity of the Internet of Things. Jeremy is Deputy President of the Institution for Engineering and Technology and Chair of BuildingSMART UK.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the ICE and the IET. His specialities include research strategy, systems thinking, innovation processes, and emerging technology identification.
Jeremy is Director of a £9.8m research hub funded by EPSRC. This is composed of nine universities collaborating research on Cybersecurity of the Internet of Things. The hub has been pledged a further £13m by its partners for on-going research.