The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is celebrating its 140th anniversary.
The IET started life as the Society of Telegraph Engineers on May 17, 1871 at a meeting held in London attended by eight people.
Electric telegraphy reached commercial success in 19th century Britain when it was applied to the railways by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone. By 1870 over 2,000 men and 500 women were employed by the telegraph companies in the UK, mainly as telegraph operators.
There were opportunities for many to become engineers. Telegraph engineers needed to know about electricity, setting them apart from the civil or the mechanical engineer, and by 1870 many felt that their profession had attained such a standing that it deserved its own society.
The Society of Telegraph Engineers remit was for the general advancement of Electrical and Telegraphic Science, and more particularly for facilitating the exchange of information and ideas among its members.
The first president of the society was Charles William Siemens, and early members included Sir William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs, and Sir Charles Wheatstone - all prominent electrical engineers.
In 1889 the society changed its name to the Institution of Electrical Engineers and became the Institution of Engineering and Technology in 2006.
The IET now has over 150,000 members in 127 countries around the world, and its remit is to educate and influence. Some of the work it does includes - organising lectures, events and conferences; making submissions to Government and the EU on policy issues related to engineering; publishing books, journals and magazines; and publishing the Wiring Regulations. As well as its headquarters at Michael Faraday House in Stevenage, it has offices in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, New Jersey, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangalore.
IET Chief Executive Nigel Fine will cut a special cake to mark 140 years to the day that the organisation came into existence. Cake cutting ceremonies will also take place in the IET’s offices in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangalore. A series of events are also planned over the coming months to mark the anniversary.