Three-quarters of the UK population do not know what civil engineering is, according to an Institution of Civil Engineers survey published this week.

The survey found that 77% of the public do not understand what is meant by civil engineering. The study comes as the ICE’s youngest ever president, Colin Clinton, takes office with plans to reform the image of the profession (see 29 October, page 24-25).

Clinton said: “Civil engineers are building the world’s infrastructure but have long suffered jibes about being boring. It’s time the public really knew what engineers do everyday to improve lives around the world.”

Clinton added that public understanding was vital to the sector’s success. He said: “The public needs to know about how civil engineers will address problems such as flooding, climate change and the risk to our energy supplies. Without this level of understanding, public ignorance could get in the way of resolving these problems.”

The survey indicated that young people were the most ignorant about civil engineering. In an attempt to address this, Clinton is backing the ICE’s 2005 campaign, called “What is Civil Engineering?”, which aims to raise the profile of the profession by targeting schools, visitor centres and libraries across the UK.

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