What do you do? Looking at how we communicate our roles and impact as building services engineers

With fewer engagements over the summer holiday period, August brought time to plan, consolidate and for many, take a well-earned break. For anyone with school aged children, there is the additional challenge of making sure that they are occupied over the summer months.

The holiday period made me think about how we engage with our family and friends about what we do. I feel that the term Building Services Engineering does little to convey the variety of specialisms we cover, the impact that we have, and the importance of the work that engineers within this sector do.

When asked what I do, I have taken to referring to the role that engineers play in delivering buildings that are safer, healthy, and more sustainable. I have found that the reaction to this is far more engaging than I used to have when I replied that I am a Building Services Engineer. 

Another term that I’ve heard used in reference to what we do is that we bring buildings to life. It is true that when buildings are designed it is the building services engineers who place the function of the facility at the heart of the process, especially when considering the needs of the people that will occupy them, whether that’s a school, an office, or a hospital.

In my presidential address, I identified that as engineers we often prefer to focus on problem solving and delivering solutions, as opposed to telling others about the work that we do and the impact that it has on everyday life.

I cannot emphasise enough how important I think it is that we, CIBSE, are able to represent the diverse and varied routes into building services engineering as possible. In sharing my professional journey, I have been inspired and touched by the response from others.

I would love to hear from you about how you explain what you do, whether to your children, family members, friends or anyone not working in this industry. I want to understand the common language that we use and how this might be harnessed to raise awareness around our profession, and of course, in inspiring the next generation of building services engineers.

Find out more about the CIBSE 125 Challenges and get in touch by emailing challenges@cibse.org

While August might have provided a small break from the regular stream of events and meetings, September is set to be a very busy and exciting month.

Alongside Ruth Carter, CIBSE CEO, I will be travelling to the CIBSE UAE region. This trip provides the opportunity to meet and thank CIBSE members in the region for the incredible work that they do. It also provides further opportunities to engage members in the #CIBSE125Challenges on an international scale.

Hosted by the CIBSE UAE Chair, Farah Naz and her fellow committee members, we have an exciting and full itinerary ahead of us. Ruth and I will be speaking with students from Manipal and De Montfort Universities, encouraging them to be part of the CIBSE community and also listening to what we can do to best support them in their journey.

We will be visiting Masdar City, a sustainable urban development, to discuss how Masdar and CIBSE might be able to collaborate in the future, along with the Louvre, in Abu Dhabi. As with many of the engagements I have as CIBSE President, the Louvre has a personal and professional significance in that I was involved with the delivery of the construction phase of this project while working as Partner and UAE Director for Buro Happold. Until now, I haven’t had the opportunity to explore the finished project and I am thrilled to be able to do so in my capacity as CIBSE President.

I will also be taking part in a panel discussion focusing on cross collaboration for net zero transition in the region. I am honoured to be able to join an esteemed panel of speakers for such an important discussion, considering what is required over the next decade to deliver net zero carbon.

I am also honoured to be able to attend and deliver a keynote address at the CIBSE UAE Annual Awards and Gala Dinner on 8 September 2022. The awards recognise the consultancy, manufacturer, engineer, and graduate of the year and promises to be a wonderful evening. 

Follow CIBSE President, Kevin Mitchell on Twitter - @CIBSEPresident

Share your story or get involved in the #CIBSE125Challenges via challenges@cibse.org 


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