Memorandum submitted by the Institution
of Chemical Engineers
The Institution of Chemical Engineers is a learned,
qualifying body and professional association for chemical and
biochemical engineers, process engineers and related technologists.
The Institution is based in the UK, Incorporated
by Royal Charter and enjoys charitable status.
Approximately 30 per cent of the Institution's
25,000 members are based outside the UK, principally in Australia,
where the Institution has a branch office in Melbourne. The Institution's
85 staff are mainly based at the IChemE's principal office in
Rugby, Warwickshire, with a small number of staff based at the
Institution's London Office in Gayfere Street, Westminster, which
are used principally for meetings.
The Institution is a Nominated and Licensed
Body of the Engineering Council and a member of the Science Council.
It provides the secretariat in the UK for the European Federation
of Chemical Engineering and its Chief Executive is a member of
the Executive Board of the World Chemical Engineering Council
and Commonwealth Engineers' Council.
The IChemE has a turnover of approximately £5
million per annum, something under 25 per cent derives directly
from membership subscriptions, the remainder from activities associated
with publishing (journals, books and magazines), advertising (IChemE
enjoys a leading market position in the advertisement of professional
chemical engineering job vacancies), training courses, conferences
and distance learning materials.
Beyond the Institution's freehold ownership
of its premises in the UK, the Institution has modest financial
reserves equivalent to a few months' working capital, and budgets
to achieve a financial break-even over a cycle.
Until latterly, the Institution has received
little direct financial support from Government or related sources.
However, the industrial base to which chemical engineers contribute
has been generous on a number of occasions, including funding
for the purchase and development of the IChemE's principal offices,
for the promotion of chemical engineering careers and to develop
continuing education and CPD materials.
Chemical engineers work across a broad span
of industries which have been disproportionately successful parts
of UK manufacture, including chemicals, oil and gas, nuclear and
other energy industries, biotechnology, food and drink, pharmaceuticals
and cosmetics, water and other environmental industries, process
plant manufacture and process engineering contracting. The UK
generally enjoys a strong industrial position and positive balance
of trade in these sectors.
The Institution's historic attitude to Governmental
funding, which might be described as "wishing to stand on
its own two feet" and not being beholden to public monies,
was probably inherited from the independent attitude in the 1960s,
1970s and 1980s of the chemical and oil industrial base.
The Institution's position on Government support
has, however, modified and nowadays, on a project basis, is welcomed
provided it does not prejudice the independence of the Institution's
In February 2001, the IChemE successfully bid
for DTI support to assist with the development of IChemE's web-based
learning portal. The IChemE received, up to 31 March 2002, £39,200
as part of the DTI Innovation and Skills Partnership scheme to
provide a one-stop shop for purchasing and receiving training
relevant to individuals in the process industries. Within the
portal, conventional products are available for purchasing in
addition to a new generation of e-learning products. DTI supported
the project because they viewed it as a novel approach to improving
skills in the chemicals sector.
More recently DTI funding of £1.2 million,
in the period May 2001 to April 2004, has been provided for core
infrastructure, training, technology exploitation, publicity,
marketing and dissemination for the CRYSTAL Faraday Partnership
in Green Chemical Technology. IChemE acts as the contractual partner
with DTI, together with two other hub partnersRoyal Society
of Chemistry and the Chemical Industries Association. There is
a possibility of additional funding being awarded for a two year
extension to the project.
Earmarked EPSRC funding of £1 million has
been made available for collaborative research projects in Green
Chemical Technology, which has to be committed by September 2002.
In relation to both the DTI supported projects
above, the Institution's positioning at the interface between
the relevant academic and industrial communities has been shown
to be a "winning card" in terms of providing an effective
and unique network. This is evidenced in the Faraday Partnership
where participants include 10 Consortia and Network Technology
Organisations (CANTO), nine direct industrial participants with
40 more working through CANTO networks, and chemistry and chemical
engineering departments from 19 universities.
CRYSTAL's mission is "to be the lead organisation
for the research, development and implementation of green technologies
and practices in the UK chemical and allied industries".
A professional Institution such as IChemE enjoys
a more independent position than can be provided by an employer
organisation or trade association when working in partnership
The role of the IChemE has also been recognised
latterly by the European Union, which has also provided funding
for a number of safety related projects. While technically outside
the scope of the present inquiry, the Committee may be interested
to know that, acting on behalf of the European Federation of Chemical
Engineering, the Institution established at IChemE in 1995 the
European Process Safety Centre. The Centre began a project, PRISM
(Process Industries Safety Management) Network on Human Factors
in April 2001 with an EU funded total support value of £256,000.
Outcomes are to promote the concept of human factors particularly
amongst small and medium sized enterprises and identify future
research needs in the field of human factors in the process industries.
IChemE is also contracted into two other EU
funded projects; ARAMIS, which began on 1 January 2002 with EU
funded total value of support of £75,000, whose outcomes
are to compare risk assessment methods across Europe and identify
best practice in the field of risk assessment; and S2S (Safety
to Safety), which is due to begin in June 2002 with total support
value of £70,000, whose outcomes are to incorporate all the
process industry networks within Europe and identify future research
needs in the field of human factors in the process industries.
While support from Government has, thus far,
come principally from the Department of Trade and Industry, there
is seen to be scope for equivalent project working in future with
the Department for Education and Skills, and the Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Indeed, the Institution already
provides, by way of comment on consultation documents and draft
legislation, expert input on behalf of the chemical engineering
community to documents issued by these Departments.
The chemical engineering profession sits at
the very interface between energy and environmental affairs which
are so important to the future sustainable industry. A current
project about to be launched by the Institution is a set of metrics
to measure progress in achieving sustainable development. This
project has been entirely funded by the Institution but will provide,
for the first time, a set of independent metrics to help engineers
address the issue of sustainable development and enable companies
to set targets and develop standards for internal benchmarking
and to monitor year on year progress. It is hoped that the dissemination
of this project will be promoted by relevant Government Departments.
Like other professional bodies, the Institution
is active in seeking to recruit from the relevant cohort of school
leavers into chemical engineering where there has been a decline
in school leaving interest in recent years. While industrial support
has been forthcoming for the "Whynotchemeng" campaign,
the Institution was not successful in bidding for funds from the
DTI to match the contributions received from industry and voted
from the Institution's reserves.
The chemical engineering profession does not
believe it receives value at present from pan-engineering initiatives
which have received support from public funds. Expert input to
Government from Institution members and from documents put together
by the Institution is a major part of the IChemE's External Relations
strategy, as is communicating relevant chemical engineering science
and achievement to the public. This is done through PR campaigns
and publishing. The Institution receives no public sector support
for these activities.
IChemE would welcome the opportunity to present
oral evidence to the Committee on the role of Learned Societies
in communicating science to broader publics, attracting able cohorts
of school leavers into science and engineering careers and in
providing a unique opportunity for networking between academe
and industrial practice, as has latterly been recognised through
the DTI project funding received by the Institution.
In relation to other issues touched on in the
inquiry, the IChemE is pleased to report that of the current intake
into chemical engineering courses, approximately 25 per cent are
female, a substantially higher proportion than in other areas
of engineering. Further progress and initiatives to attract young
women into chemical engineering would help to address the historic
gender imbalance. Later this year, the Institution will have its
first female President, Professor Dame Julia Higgins DBE, FRS
Further progress has been made overseas, notably
in the United States and Australia, in attracting even larger
numbers of women into chemical engineering and it is important
that messages to this effect are carried out into the relevant
target communities in the UK. It is encouraging to see an increasing
number of senior role models in chemical engineering held by women.