Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE)

  Thank you for the invitation to the IEE to submit evidence to this enquiry. In doing so, we are restricting our comments to the area of which we have first hand knowledge, that is the contribution made by the IEE to providing scientific advice to Government and to communicating science and technology to the public.

  IEE is a not for profit organisation, registered as a charity in the UK. Its income is mainly derived from its technical publishing activities and from Members' subscriptions. IEE commits well in excess of £1.5 million a year to education and public awareness activities. The annual cost of its Engineering Policy Department represents a further £430,000. With rare exceptions, noted in the detailed evidence attached, this work is carried out entirely at the IEE's own expense.

  Founded in 1871, IEE is the largest professional engineering society in Europe and has a worldwide membership of circa 130,000 ranging from students to the most distinguished and highly qualified members of the profession. IEE represents a wide range of engineering disciplines including power engineering, electronics, communications, computing, software engineering, IT and manufacturing.

  The IEE is keen to ensure that in framing policy and legislation the Government has access to the best professional engineering advice. IEE monitors Government and Parliamentary consultations and responds to approximately 30 consultations each year on subjects ranging from Renewable Energy to Innovations in Microprocessing.

  In providing advice to Government, the IEE acts in accordance with the obligations of its Royal Charter and therefore particular importance is attached to reliable, authoritative advice in the fields of health and safety and environmental issues. It conducts proactive in-depth studies of key issues as well as responding to requests for comment.

  An important recent example is the assistance provided by the IEE to the Stewart Enquiry into the possible effects on health of mobile phones. The IEE's Policy Group on the Biological Effects of Low-level EMFs monitors all published research on this subject world-wide and has compiled a database of research results, reviewing and adding approximately 1,400 new entries per year. This independent data was supplied to the Stewart Enquiry and formed a basis for the thorough review that was undertaken.

  IEE organises a number of high profile activities designed to communicate science to the public. Principal amongst these is the Faraday Lecture tour which in 2001 was attended by approximately 25,000 students and reached a further three million in the UK, USA and Canada through a combination of satellite and cable broadcast and Channel 4 schools programming based on the lecture. Other examples are given in the accompanying detailed evidence.

  IEE is convinced that one of the most effective means of achieving better public understanding of science and technology in the longer term is to support teachers. It therefore devotes considerable time and money to the provision of curriculum support. IEE initiated and piloted the Marconi Days scheme, in association with GEC, with the aim of increasing the number of teachers of electronics through the Design and Technology Curriculum. More recently IEE has become a national funding partner for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative being delivered through SETNET and is working with a major media partner to develop an exciting new Web-based project.

Dr Nicholas Moiseiwitsch

Head of Engineering Policy


  1.  The IEE's Mission Statement is "to advance and disseminate knowledge in our discipline and to enhance the quality of engineering professionalism available to the community".


Submissions to Government, Select Committees and other agencies

  2.  The IEE is keen to ensure that in framing policy and legislation the Government has access to the best professional engineering advice. IEE monitors Government consultations and responds to approximately 30 consultations each year on subjects ranging from Renewable Energy to Innovations in Microprocessing.

  3.  In formulating submissions, every effort is given to assembling diverse groups involving many different backgrounds and viewpoints. All submissions are approved on behalf of the Board of Trustees by the Chair of an expert group, appointed in consultation with his or her peers. The IEE takes this activity very seriously and has a dedicated staff function, the Engineering Policy Department, to oversee and administer the process.

  4.  The timescales set by Government for responding to consultations remain a problem, with many considerably less than the three months recommended in Government policy. IEE consults as widely as possible amongst its members but, clearly, the more time that is given, the more extensive is the possible consultation and the more opportunity busy expert members have to comment fully.

  5.  The drive towards "Open Government" means that Government Departments and other agencies increasingly consult by placing a consultative document on their website, without specifically inviting relevant organisations to respond. IEE monitors a large number of relevant websites in order to ensure that it is aware of the important consultations. However, direct invitations to comment are appreciated. From the Government's point of view there is very considerable benefit to be gained from inviting the IEE to submit evidence as it can be assured that the views expressed have been subjected to peer review. This point is further developed in the IEE's evidence to the Office of Science and Technology on "The use of scientific advice in Policy Making", a copy of which forms Appendix B to this evidence.

  6.  It is noted with interest that the Government's Ministerial Science Group, MSG, has undertaken to keep under review Departmental procedures for early anticipation and identification of issues for which scientific research or advice will be needed.[7] IEE would be keen to explore mechanisms by which early notice of forthcoming consultations could be received and to enter into dialogue with Civil Servants in the relevant Departments at an earlier stage on future policy issues where the IEE could be of assistance.

  7.  IEE co-operates with other Institutions and Societies such as the BCS, the IMechE and the IChemE. However its current policy is not the produce "joint" submissions with other bodies except on professional matters where the issues are mutual. The pooling of inputs to produce joint submissions adds to the time taken and generally leads to a more bland response. It is understood that recipients of advice would prefer to receive separate submissions so that any differences or similarities are apparent and can be aired and debated.

Biological Effects of Low-Level Electromagnetic Fields

  8.  The IEE Policy Advisory Group on the Biological Effects of Low-level Electromagnetic Fields monitors all published research on this subject world-wide and has compiled a database of research results, reviewing and adding approximately 1,400 new entries each year.

  9.  IEE publishes Policy Statements, updated every two years, on the basis of the peer-reviewed papers published during this period. These are available on the IEE website.

  10.  The IEE's database was supplied to the Stewart Enquiry and formed a basis for the thorough review that was undertaken. As a result of the Steward Enquiry, the Government has established the Mobile Telephone and Health (MTHR) Programme. This consists of 15 Government funded studies into the possible biological effects of mobile phones. Of these 15 selected studies, four involve members of the IEE Biological Effects Group.

  11.  In 2001, the IEE produced a FactFile, explaining in layman's terms the possible effects on health of low-level electromagnetic fields. Copies were circulated widely, including to MPs. It was also sent to local authorities and public undertakings to assist them in planning matters. IEE's independence was much appreciated by recipients. The FactFile is available for free download on the IEE website.

IEE Reports and Guidelines commissioned by Government

  12.  IEE has undertaken a number of major research projects for Government in the past years, with varying degrees of Government funding. The main examples are:

    —  Software in Safety Related Systems: major research project funded by DTI and published in 1989 in order to raise awareness of software as a new risk issue.

    The IEE was also a founder member of the Safety Critical Systems Club, which was set up, with DTI pump-priming funds, to encourage the sharing of professional expertise in this area. The IEE's Professional Network on Functional Safety, which is due to be launched shortly, will continue to develop this area, co-operating closely with the Club;

    —  "Safety, Competency and Commitment: Competency Guidelines for Safety Related Systems Practitioners": published by the IEE in 1999, following a four year IEE/BCS project with funding from HSE and backing from the DTI;

    —  "Embedded Systems and the Y2k problem": major research and awareness project, largely at IEE expense, but with DTI funding for a specific sub-project;

    —  "To School or not to School": IEE Foresight Associate Project, published on the IEE website in 2001, on the role of ICT in primary and secondary education. This was funded entirely by the IEE.

  13.  The resource pressures on Institutions, coupled with the increased pressures on expert Members' time, mean that undertaking this type of project is much more difficult now than five or 10 years ago. IEE currently has no plans for projects of this nature, however, it is prepared to consider proposals for longer-term studies in fields where it believes it can really make a difference, provided they are fully or substantially funded by the customer.


Faraday Lecture series

  14.  The IEE Faraday Lecture was founded in 1924 to commemorate the life and work of Michael Faraday, and is now an annual tour, which visits up to 14 towns and cities throughout the UK. The Faraday aims to enthuse young people in the 14-16 year old age group about science, engineering and technology and to attract some of them into a career in these areas. The lecture is a live stage presentation using the latest technologies: sensors, web-cams, audio-visual inserts and multi-media together with lots of demonstrations and audience participation. Over 20,000 students, together with members of the general public, see the lecture in the UK and it is also received by satellite throughout North America, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong and Europe. It is televised in Australia and New Zealand and, in the UK, Channel 4 record the lecture on which they base an educational programme for schools. In total the Lecture reaches in excess of three million television viewers.

IEE Christmas Lecture

  15.  This annual lecture is designed to bring to the notice of sixth form school children the services electrical engineering performs for the community. It is presented two or three times at the IEE's headquarters in Savoy Place and sometimes also in the Branches. The most recent Lecture was about the British Airways London Eye and offered an insight into the complex engineering design and construction methods that underpin this successful project.

PAWS Drama Awards

  16.  The PAWS (Public Awareness of Science) Drama Awards provide bursaries to television scriptwriters to enable them to develop ideas for drama with a science, engineering or technology (SET) flavour. In doing so they recognise the power of the mass media to influence people's perceptions through entertainment. In addition to the bursaries there are prizes for the best programmes to be broadcast with a SET base or containing elements of SET. There is a regular newsletter and workshops where writers meet engineers and scientists. The IEE has supported the scheme since its inception and each year hosts and sponsors the Awards evening.

Today's Engineers Painting Competition

  17.  This competition is designed specifically for primary schools (five to seven year old pupils) and has been running for eight years. It regularly attracts 10,000 entries from schools throughout the UK and is backed by a consortium of 15 bodies from the engineering world, with the IEE being the largest sponsor and providing project management. This is one of IEE's main contributions to SET Week and, in 2002, to SET Year.

National Exhibitions and Events

  18.  IEE also recognises the need to meet various members of the public face-to-face, particularly family groups, and staff attend a number of exhibitions each year. Typically this could include the British Association Festival; Tomorrow's World Live and the Imagineering show within the Town & Country Fair. Every effort is made to target exhibits to the science and technology national curriculum.

Campaign to Promote Engineering (CPE)

  19.  The IEE was one of the founding Patrons of CPE and has continued to support it. As well as being represented on the Board and, initially, providing accommodation for the Campaign's offices, the IEE representative chairs the CPE's Health Planning Group.

IEE Prize for Helping Disabled People

  20.  The IEE Prize for Helping Disabled People is a collaborative project, managed by the IEE and run in conjunction with "Young Engineers" with the support of the Campaign to Promote Engineering (CPE). Aimed at 11-18 year olds, this national competition promotes the major role played by engineering and technology in meeting the needs of people with disabilities and their carers.

Engineering in Health Week

  21.  This project has been running for six years and is supported by CPE and its Health Planning Group. The IEE is one of the sponsors of the week and provides the project management for it. The week consists of a series of high-grade lectures on health technology delivered by leading figures in the field. It is aimed at A level students to encourage them to consider this area as a career and is linked to the appropriate parts of the national curriculum. Originally based in London it has now added Birmingham and Glasgow as venues and attracts some 2,000 students each year. In 2002, Engineering in Health Week is badged as a contribution to SET Year.

Daphne Jackson Memorial Lecture

  22.  Organised by the IEE in conjunction with the Women's Engineering Society (WES) and the Institute of Physics (IoP), the annual Daphne Jackson Memorial Lecture aims to highlight the contribution that women make in the fields of science, engineering and technology and to promote engineering as a suitable, worthwhile and exciting career for girls.

Factfiles and Factsheets

  23.  The Engineering Policy Department produces a range of FactFiles and Factsheets on topical issues with an engineering dimension. They are suitable for non-engineers and designed to give unbiased factual information. Titles include "Nuclear Power in the UK", "The Environmental Effects of Electricity generation", and "Electromagnetic Fields and Health".

  24.  The Department also produces a large range of Health and Safety Briefings and Legal Briefings. These are available on the IEE website.

IEE Website

  25.  The IEE website,, is a major resource of information for Members and the public. Information on every aspect of the IEE's activities may be found on the website. For example, the Engineering Policy section contains the full text of all submissions made by the IEE to Government and links to factual information on a wide range of fields.

IEE archives

  26.  The IEE Archives are available to the public and used by researchers, eg for TV programmes, events and exhibitions. They contain information about the development of electrical science and technology from earliest times to the present. There is visual and written material on the electrical industry, design, business and family history, and women in engineering. Information about the content of the collections is accessible to the public via the IEE website.


Curriculum resource materials

  27.  The IEE produces a wide range of curriculum resources for primary and secondary schools to support the teaching of science, design and technology, ICT and careers. The majority of these are produced in collaboration with other partners. The resources include TV programmes, CD-ROM, software, books, videos, training materials for teachers and posters. Particular examples are:

    —  Young Foresight—a design and technology initiative for Year 9 (14 year olds);

    —  Advancing Physics—a new A level course developed with the Institute of Physics;

    —  ICON Soft Electronics—software for programming PIC (programmable interface controller) chips; and

    —  Handbooks for Science Teachers—set of three developed with the Association for Science Education.

STEM initiative

  28.  IEE has become a national funding partner for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative being delivered through SETNET. It is working with Channel 4 Learning to develop an exciting new Web-based project promoting careers involving the creative use of ICT and electronics.

IEE/NEC Teacher Awards

  29.  Now in its eighth year, this annual scheme provides awards for twelve teachers from primary or secondary schools, who through good practice, enthusiasm and dedication have encouraged students to develop a keen interest in subjects appropriate to electrical, electronic, and manufacturing engineering.

  30.  Although particularly appropriate for those teaching design and technology, information technology, mathematics or science, the awards are not restricted to teachers in any particular subject area. Nominations are welcomed from anyone with personal experience of a potential winner, whether as a current or past student, parent, school governor, colleague, adviser or an engineer who has links with the school.


  31.  SchoolNet is the IEE School Affiliate Scheme, membership of which is free to secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges. The scheme aims to support and enhance the teaching of science and technology at secondary level by disseminating information about the IEE's schools activities and resources, as well as details of other relevant materials and initiatives.

Electronics Education

  32.   Electronics Education is the schools magazine of the IEE. Published each term, in September, January and April, it is sent free to science and technology departments of all UK secondary schools as well as to Initial Teacher Training providers and many educational organisations.

  33.   Electronics Education seeks to be a resource for teachers, providing support in implementing the electronics content of the science and design and technology curricula at Key Stages 3 and 4 and in the sixth form. It covers electronics, computing, engineering careers and related topics, and reviews books, software and educational products. As well as informative articles, each issue features project work to provide teachers with ideas to pursue with their own students. These projects are contributed from various sources including pupils themselves.

Marconi Days

  34.  The electronics industry has, for some years, faced problems recruiting enough people at all levels. In a large part this is because only a relatively small number of schools offer GCSE electronics through the Design and Technology curriculum (about 20 per cent of secondary schools) which, in turn, means that only some 7 per cent of the cohort are opting for electronics. Recognising that the provision of sufficient teachers trained to teach the subject was vital, the IEE, with funding from GEC (as it was at the time), set up a pilot scheme to train teachers of electronics as an INSET project. The initial results were so encouraging that the Design & Technology Association (DATA), as the specialist body for teachers in this part of the curriculum, was invited to take on the management of the next phases of the project which attracted government funding. The IEE retains an active interest as part of the steering group and has accredited the work through it own Continuing Professional Development scheme—both for training of trainers and of teachers.


IEE's qualifying role

  35.  IEE is a qualifying body for engineers in a wide range of engineering disciplines including power engineering, electronics, communications, computing, software engineering, IT and manufacturing. Employing organisations, clients and members of the general public can be assured that a Chartered Engineer qualified through IEE is a knowledgeable professional who will make recommendations and conduct business in a strictly professional manner adhering to the code of conduct and the ethical standards laid down by IEE. Engineers so qualified may describe themselves as Chartered Engineers and may use the designatory letters CEng MIEE after their names. Such clear designation assists the public in understanding where to obtain authoritative information and guidance.

IEE's Learned Society Role—Professional Networks

  36.  The IEE's learned society role is based on its 33 Professional Networks. Each Professional Network provides an interface for global networking between professionals with shared interests and needs and aims to meet those needs by providing focused technical events, papers and other products. The Engineering Policy Department draws on this framework to access experts in the appropriate fields when providing advice to Government.

Co-operation with EPSRC

  37.  IEE works actively with the Research Councils and especially EPSRC, in assisting in the setting of the national research agenda and supporting the interests of its large number of research-based members and affiliated companies. Such research involvement is also crucial to IEE as an internationally respected academic publisher. In practice, for example, IEE co-sponsors EPSRC events (such as the PREP conference—Postgraduate Research in Electronics, Photonics, Communications and Software); nominates IEE experts to senior EPSRC Committees and Colleges, and undertakes specific tasks for the Council, such as managing the recent OST-initiated International Review of Computer Science Research. In turn, senior staff members of the Councils are active in IEE affairs: The present CEO of EPSRC is a Deputy President of the IEE, for example.

Standards making—Wiring Regulations

  38.  IEE is responsible for publishing the UK National Standard BS7671: Requirements for Electrical Installations. IEE also publishes standards for ships and offshore installations. In association with these activities, IEE members and staff represent UK interests at a range of European and international standards meetings.

Scholarships and Grants

  39.  The IEE offers a significant number of awards to assist members and students with undergraduate studies, postgraduate research and international travel. The annual commitment in terms of the above awards is approximately £142,000.

  40.  The postgraduate awards are intended to assist with research in the fields of electrical, electronic, manufacturing and information engineering. The awards range in value from £1,000 to £10,000 per annum. The premier postgraduate award offered by the IEE is the Leslie H Paddle Fellowship which is available to assist members of the IEE with research which is in the forefront of technology related to Electronics or Radio Engineering.

  41.  Undergraduate scholarships and grants are available to assist students and members with their studies on an IEE accredited first or MEng degree. The awards range in value from £500 to £750 per annum and are open to students who have demonstrated a keen interest in mathematics, science and engineering. Applicants are expected to have attained exceptional results in their A Level, Higher, Advanced Higher or vocational qualifications or during the course of their university studies. The Jubilee Scholarships are the premier undergraduate award. These have a value of £750 per annum and are open to students who are to enter an MEng degree at the start of each academic year in September.

  42.  A number of Prizes are also offered for academic excellence on an IEE accredited first or MEng degree.

  43.  Travel awards are available to assist members with international travel related to research, professional interests, training, professional development and the presentation of papers.

April 2002

7   Guidelines 2000, Scientific Advice and Policy Making, OST, July 2000 Back

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