Institution of Civil Engineers

Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Civil Engineers.png
Type Civil engineering
Professional title Chartered Civil Engineer
Founded 2 January 1818 (1818-01-02)
Headquarters One Great George Street, London, UK
Key people Peter Hansford, President; Tom Foulkes, Director General.
Area served Worldwide
Services Professional accreditation
room hire
contract mailings
Members 84,350 (Correct as of March 2009)
Membership cost £235 (free for students)

Founded on 2 January 1818, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is an independent professional association, based in central London, representing civil engineering. Like its early membership, the majority of its current members are British engineers, but it also has members in more than 150 countries around the world. In 2008, its total membership stands at more than 80,000.[1] In November 2010, Peter Hansford assumed office as the current President.



As a professional body, it is committed to support and promote professional learning (both to students and existing practitioners), managing professional ethics and safeguarding the status of engineers, and representing the interests of the profession in dealings with government, etc. It sets standards for membership of the body; works with industry and academia to progress engineering standards and advises on education and training curricula.

The Institution of Civil Engineers also publishes technical studies covering research and best practice in civil engineering. Under its commercial arm, Thomas Telford Ltd, it delivers training, recruitment, publishing and contract services, such as the NEC Engineering and Construction Contract. All the profits of Thomas Telford Ltd go back to the Institution to further its stated aim of putting civil engineers at the heart of society. The publishing division has existed since 1836 and is today called ICE Publishing. ICE Publishing produces roughly 30 books a year, including the ICE Manuals series, and 26 civil engineering journals, including the ICE Proceedings in eighteen parts, Géotechnique, and the Magazine of Concrete Research. The ICE Science series is now also published by ICE Publishing. ICE Science currently consists of three journals: Nanomaterials and Energy, Emerging Materials Research and Bioinspired, Biomimetic and Nanobiomaterials. ICE members, except for students, also receive the weekly New Civil Engineer magazine. However, this is not published by ICE Publishing, but by Emap.

Students pursuing recognised academic courses in civil engineering can join the ICE as student members - many undergraduate civil, structural and environmental degrees in the UK are "accredited by the ICE". After completing their studies, individuals can become graduate members – a step closer to achieving full Member status (MICE). The pinnacle of professional standing is to then be accepted as a Fellow (FICE).

The Institution's headquarters at One Great George Street


The late 18th century and early 19th century saw the founding of many learned societies and professional bodies (for example, the Royal Society and the Law Society). Groups calling themselves civil engineers had been meeting for some years from the late 18th century, notably the Society of Civil Engineers formed in 1771 by John Smeaton (renamed the Smeatonian Society after his death). At that time, formal engineering in Britain was limited to the military engineers of the Corps of Royal Engineers, and in the spirit of self help prevalent at the time and to provide a focus for the fledgling 'civilian engineers', the Institution of Civil Engineers was founded as the world's first professional engineering body.

The initiative to found the Institution was taken in 1818 by three young engineers, Henry Robinson Palmer (23), James Jones (28) and Joshua Field (32), who organised an inaugural meeting on 2 January 1818, at the Kendal Coffee House in Fleet Street. The institution made little headway until a key step was taken - the appointment of Thomas Telford as the first President of the body. Greatly respected within the profession and blessed with numerous contacts across the industry and in government circles, he was instrumental in drumming up membership and getting a Royal Charter for ICE in 1828. This official recognition helped establish ICE as the pre-eminent organisation for engineers of all disciplines.

The objects of such institution, as recited in the charter, were

The general advancement of mechanical science, and more particularly for promoting the acquisition of that species of knowledge which constitutes the profession of a civil engineer; being the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man, as the means of production and of traffic in states, both for external and internal trade, as applied in the construction of roads, bridges, aqueducts, canals, river navigation, and docks, for internal intercourse and exchange; and in the construction of ports, harbours, moles, breakwaters, and light-houses, and in the art of navigation by artificial power, for the purposes of commerce; and in the construction and adaptation of machinery, and in the drainage of cities and towns.

After Telford’s death in 1834, the organisation moved into premises in Great George Street in the heart of Westminster in 1839, and began to publish learned papers on engineering topics. Its members, notably William Cubitt, were also prominent in the organisation of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

In some respects ICE was ahead of its time, providing a focus for engineers from other disciplines. Mechanical engineer and tool-maker Henry Maudslay was an early member and Joseph Whitworth presented one of the earliest papers – it was not until 1847 that the Institution of Mechanical Engineers was established (with George Stephenson as its first President).

By the end of the 19th century, ICE had introduced examinations for professional engineering qualifications to help ensure and maintain high standards among its members – a role it continues today.

The ICE's Great George Street headquarters, designed by James Miller, was built by John Mowlem & Co and completed in 1913.

Former ICE Presidents

Many of the profession’s greatest engineers have served as President of the ICE including:

One of Britain's greatest engineers, Isambard Kingdom Brunel died before he could take up the post (he was vice-president from 1850).

Presidents have been blogging since Gordon Masterton's year (2005 to 2006). The blog of the current president is on the web site of the Institution of Civil Engineers here.[1]


The Institution makes a series of awards to recognise the work of its members. In addition to awards for technical papers, reports and competition entries it awards a number of medals for different achievements.

Gold Medal

The Gold Medal is awarded to an individual who has made valuable contributions to civil engineering over many years. This may cover contributions in one or more areas, such as, design, research, development, investigation, construction, management (including project management), education and training.

Garth Watson Medal

The Garth Watson Medal is awarded for dedicated and valuable service to ICE by an ICE Member or member of staff.

Brunel Medal

The Brunel Medal is awarded to teams, individiuals or organisations operating within the built environment and recognises excellence in civil engineering.

Edmund Hambly Medal

The Edmund Hambly Medal awarded for creative design in an engineering project that makes a substantial contribution to sustainable development. It is awarded to projects, of any scale, which take into account such factors as full life-cycle effects, including de-commissioning, and show an understanding of the implications of infrastructure impact upon the environment. The medal is awarded in honour of past president Edmund Hambly who was a proponent of sustainable engineering.

International Medal

The International Medal is awarded annually to a civil engineer who has made an outstanding contribution to civil engineering outside the United Kingdom or an engineer who resides outside the United Kingdom.

Warren Medal

The Warren Medal is awarded annually to an ICE member in recognition of valuable services to his or her region.

Telford Medal

The Telford Medal is the highest prize that can be awarded by the ICE for a paper.

See also


  • Charles Matthew Norrie (1956). Bridging the Years - a short history of British Civil Engineering. Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd.
  • Garth Watson (1988). The Civils - The story of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Thomas Telford Ltd

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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