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Peter Bonfield on Savoy Place roof terrace

New IET president pledges to champion professionalism

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The IET’s president for 2019-2020 intends to use his term of office to champion the professionalism of engineers and technicians in a bid to improve skills, ethics and competency.

Dr Peter Bonfield OBE, who is vice-chancellor and president at the University of Westminster, became the IET’s 138th president on 1 October. He has already launched a concordat to help organisations show their commitment to valuing their engineers and ethical practices. So far 53 engineering and technology companies have pledged their support and signed up, including BAE Systems, BT, Cundall, Mott MacDonald Limited, Network Rail and Schneider Electric UK.

Bonfield hopes the initiative will help to eliminate bad practice in the sector and demonstrate to society that engineers and technicians can be trusted to develop solutions to global issues such as sustainability and creating a digital future.

Delivering his inaugural address at IET London: Savoy Place last night (23 October), Bonfield explored and expanded on the theme of ‘a new future for engineers’ and explained how this shapes what he hopes to achieve during his presidential term.

He explained: “I’ve always felt very passionate about the role that engineering, technology and science can have in transforming lives and in protecting society through collaboration, teamwork, innovation and creativity – and engineers and technicians are integral to this, having made major contributions to making people safe. But I’ve also seen instances where things have gone wrong, so we need to make sure our registered professionals are competent and can be trusted to do the right thing. We’ve got to make sure our engineers and technicians are properly valued and invested in by their employers.”

Prior to joining the University of Westminster in May 2018, Bonfield was chief executive of the Building Research Establishment Group of companies. He joined BRE from the University of Bath where he was a research officer working on wind energy technology.

A former national cycling champion, he has coached many cyclists and triathletes including the women’s triathlon team that competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics. From 2006 until 2012 he was on part-time secondment to the Olympic Delivery Authority for the London 2012 Games, where he co-created a sustainable development strategy and took the lead on the sustainable procurement of construction products. He was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to research and innovation in the construction industry.

The London presentation of ‘A New Future for Engineers’ is available to view online on IET.tv.

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