Strengthening bonds, working together to deliver a culture of collaboration

A lot can happen in a month! I am delighted to say that since my previous post, I have had the opportunity to focus on collaboration with other professional engineering institutions, planning and developing opportunities for us to work together.

Kicking off with the ASHRAE Annual Conference in Toronto, Canada, I was accompanied by Ruth Carter, CIBSE CEO; Hywel Davies, CIBSE Technical Director; and Tim Dwyer, CIBSE Fellow and Editor of Building Services Engineering Research & Technology (BSER&T) journal. Toronto has very fond memories for me and my family, as we were fortunate to be based there for just over four years. It was wonderful to be back there and in such a positive context.

Kevin Mitchell, CIBSE President and Mick Shwedler, ASHRAE President

Having met with Mick Schwedler, ASHRAE President, in London the previous month, the conference provided an excellent opportunity to discuss plans for further collaboration. I was also honoured to be able to present Mick with a gift on behalf of CIBSE; with ASHRAE’s new HQ recently completed in Atlanta, we have gifted a tree as a symbol of our relationship, developing over time and growing stronger each year.

Feeling motivated by our warm and welcoming reception in Toronto, I was really excited to meet with other institutions on my return to the UK. First off, I had the pleasure of attending the Royal Academy of Engineering awards dinner. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, it was a real pleasure to be able to attend and represent CIBSE in person, celebrating the achievements and impact of engineers. Awards included the Academy’s President’s medal, presented to Professor Dame Helen Atkinson, a leading role model and advocate of women in STEM. It is encouraging to see the shared ambitions of professional engineering institutions in supporting the next generation of engineers, as well as recognising and celebrating the impact of engineers in tackling the big issues that affect us all.

I also had the honour of having a meeting with Sir Julian Young, President of the IET, and Phil Peel, President of the IMechE, where we discussed opportunities for our institutions to work together in supporting our industry, providing public benefit, and achieving our shared goal to support and inspire the next generation. It was great to be able to identify the synergies and opportunities for us to collaborate and future meetings and activities are being planned!

I was heartened to hear from children at St Teresa’s School during an IMechE parliamentary event held to promote the wonderful report on ‘Infection resilient environments: time for a major upgrade,’ which CIBSE played such a major role in producing. The students have been engaged in monitoring air movement and air quality within their classrooms and were excited to report their findings. When asked what the ‘E’ in STEM stood for, I was truly encouraged to hear a resounding, ‘Engineering’ from this group of engaged young people. The event had an impressive line-up of speakers including Amanda Solloway MP and CIBSE Honorary Fellow, Professor Cath Noakes.

As we go forward into August, many people will have summer breaks planned, spending quality time away from work, with friends and family. This got me thinking about the ways in which we engage others in the work that we do as engineers. For many outside of our industry, its not always apparent what building services engineering is. As part of the #CIBSE125Challenges, we want to encourage people to share their experience and journey into engineering, along with engaging others on the role of engineers in ensuring our built environment provides safe, comfortable, healthy and sustainable places to live and work. Additionally, we want to demonstrate the impact that engineers have in transitioning to net zero and positively impacting climate change. 

With this in mind, over the next month I would like to hear from you! I would like to know how you explain what you do as an engineer. In speaking to friends and family, if you were to describe the work that you do and its impact, what would you say? Please do share your experience of engaging others in the work that you do, and with the #CIBSE125Challenges more generally at I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Follow Kevin on Twitter via @CIBSEPresident


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