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Getting Chartered: The Last 5%

Getting Chartered: The Last 5%

About the Author

Jason Hyde

  • Jason is a Chartered Engineer working for Mott MacDonald’s Bridges in Manchester. Outside of work he is a STEM Ambassador, Past Chair of ICE Manchester Branch and currently a member of the Executive Committee of IABSE UK.
  • Find out more: LinkedIn

If you’re working in a design office (like me), then you will likely have heard the old adage that it’s the last 5% of the work that takes 90% of the time. Achieving chartered status with the Institution of Civil Engineers is much the same (and I presume the same is true for the IStructE).

I sat my professional review in Autumn last year (2014) and successfully passed. Since then, I have become a delegate engineer for two graduates who have recently joined my company. Now that the Autumn reviews are nearly upon us again, I’ve started getting questions about the review process and any tips/tricks that would be useful. Knowing that there are probably plenty of engineers out there that would benefit from the same information, I decided to share my experience with you all. [Ed. Guest posts from engineers are always welcome at Being Brunel]

The Report

Something that the guidance documents don’t tell you is that everything you write down is fair game for your reviewers.

The report is by far the hardest part of the review process. From 2015, the ICE rules regarding review reports have changed. I was lucky enough to be able to write two reports (if you can call it lucky). You need to be able to demonstrate how you have achieved all of the attributes that the ICE thinks that a professional engineer should embody. However, be warned, every sentence you write must ‘say’ something. There’s not room in the reports for ‘padding out’ (and equally, if you need to pad out, then you probably aren’t ready just yet).

Something that the guidance documents don’t tell you is that everything you write down is fair game for your reviewers (i.e. you should assume they can and will ask you a question about everything you’ve written). And pictures – you should scrutinise every picture. Make sure there’s not someone in the background doing something they shouldn’t. And make sure you can explain everything that’s going on.

Mock Interview

I cannot stress how important a mock interview is. It was something that I was dreading in honesty, but turned out to actually put most of my anxieties about the review day to bed. Just the activity of running through the day and also getting to watch other people sit their mock interviews is very revealing. Get one booked in advance of the actual review so just in case, you can make any necessary changes.

Essay Writing

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of advice I can give on essay writing other than to say “practice makes perfect”. Have a bank of plans ready (both printed and electronic just in case). Writing by hand (or even on a computer) for two solid hours is not to be underestimated. In our day-to-day professional lives, we rarely spend two hours writing a report without a break or an interruption. It’s a skill and you just have to knuckle-down and learn it.

The Day

The absolute best way to approach the day is to treat it like any other day at work.

My best advice for the review day is relax. If your review centre is not in your home city, then I would recommend booking a hotel and staying over the night. This removes any unnecessary stress relating to driving and getting up extra early. Do read some material, and run through your presentation – but don’t repeatedly practice or obsess over tiny details.

The absolute best way to approach the day is to treat it like any other day at work. You’ve got coffee in the morning followed by a project meeting with your project manager and director to report on what’s been going on. They’ll ask some questions (some technical, some not) and then you’ll be on your way (that’s the interview over). Then it’s the afternoon and the Client’s phones up asking where their report is (and demanding it for the end of the day) – this is your essay. Once you’re done it’s back to sit in traffic for the commute home. Easy.

I have intended for this to be a light-hearted post as I don’t think that as engineers, we should be stressing about this type of assessment. We’ve gone through years of exams and coursework. If you have been signed off (by no less than three separate people I might add) from your IPD scheme, then:

You already know everything you need to pass the review – you just have to remember it and speak clearly.

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