ICE Civils Comeback scheme – Helping you back into work

Nathan BakerGuest post by Nathan Baker, Director of Engineering Knowledge, Institution of Civil Engineers

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) wants to help professionals, particularly women who have taken a career break, return to work and come back to civil engineering.

Barriers to work

We recognise that many people struggle to find the right opportunities to return to engineering after having children, taking a career break to travel or simply having tried a role in something else.  

If this sounds familiar and you, or someone you know are worried your skills have depreciated or that the sector you once knew has moved on, ICE want to help.

The Civils Comeback scheme aims to help rebuild your confidence, networks, skills and knowledge base. We want to bring professionals back to civil engineering, and have put together a programme of resources and opportunities to help.

Why come back to civil engineering?

There has never been a better time to come back to civil engineering.  It is projected that we will need an extra 1.82 million people with engineering skills up to 2022.  

Simply put, we need more people with engineering skills in the short, medium and long term.  There are opportunities available, and we want to point you in the right direction.

Impact of the skills shortage

The STEM skills shortage in the UK is complicating the ability of firms to meet the rising demand in construction. It is widely accepted that we face an impending skills crisis, with significant consequences, including:  

  • Industry competence to deliver quality products or services may be lost
  • Costs and inflationary pressures may escalate, placing further stress on budgets and large-scale planning
  • Major projects may be postponed or cancelled as no longer financially viable, resulting in the loss of UK plc competitive advantage in the global marketplace

Professor John Perkins’ Review of Engineering Skills (2013) identified that engineering skills take a long time to develop, particularly when you take account of the time needed to develop the academic foundations of engineering by studying maths and science in school.

In the short term, we can improve supply by investing in retaining those with engineering skills and encouraging them to return if they have left the profession or taken a career break. Building on this recommendation, we want to get more people back into work as a civil engineer.  

More importantly however, we cannot deny that there is a historic gender imbalance in the engineering profession. This is a reputation we want and need to shed and ICE is committed to taking positive steps to resolve this.

We need a strong and diverse workforce to build the essential infrastructure society depends on.  

What is ICE offering?

ICE has created an online resource offering which includes:

  • Information and access to work-placements with sponsoring organisations
  • Support through the ICE Benevolent Fund’s coaching scheme to provide the tools needed to get come back  to engineering
  • Use of our online career-planning resources to help identify the right area(s) of civil engineering for you
  • Access to knowledge resources and networking events
  • Access to ICE’s informal mentoring service with over a hundred experienced civil engineers offering support and guidance

How to find out more

To find out more, please visit Or for an informal chat, contact Adam Kirkup on 020 7665 2262 or

Oxford University Wikipedia edit-a-thon

Guest post from Sarah Wilkin and Elizabeth McCarthy, University of Oxford


To launch the award-winning Engage: Social Media Michaelmas series hosted at the University of Oxford and celebrate this year’s Ada Lovelace Day (14th October), the Educational Enhancement team worked in partnership with staff from the Bodleian Libraries and Wikimedia UK to lead a wikipedia editathon. In line with the occasion, the day centred on enhancing online coverage of female contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The afternoon began with a fascinating talk by Professor Ursula Martin about the history and work of Ada Lovelace and then continued with an engaging training session with three enthusiastic Wikimedia trainers. The event was well attended by staff and students from multiple departments across the University who all worked hard to enhance several articles on female scientists. Energy levels were maintained high by a delicious Ada themed cake which further contributed to what was an enjoyable and thoroughly productive afternoon of editing!

The Bodleian Libraries are planning a display of Ada Lovelace material as well as a number of related events for 2015, including an academic symposium and events exploring Ada’s contributions to music, mathematics, computing, popular culture and more.

ALD14 cake

University of East London Trainee Teachers Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day

Guest post by David Wells, Senior Lecturer, Secondary ITT, University of East London

Uni East London ALD14

Six female Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) student teachers lead an evening session to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day; Dana Addo, Jagdeep Matharu, Melissa Thomas, Hamda Ahmed and Sabrina Sahebdin.

They talked about Ada Lovelace and her later followers. They researched current female involvement in technology, giving an enlightening overview of their history.

Melissa and Dana pointed out that women hold only 28 % of IT jobs and discussed the possible Influences on this. They suggested that from their research it’s very strange because 92 % Year 5/6 girls enjoyed IT and 86% wanted to continue to study the subject in secondary school but only 3 wanted to undertake it as a job.

They had researched a range of initiatives to try to counteract the stereotyping of women in IT, including:

Geek gurl diaries: This is a website designed and managed by an ex UEL student IT teacher, Carrie Anne Philbin. She has set up a network for students and professionals and has written and published resources for teaching IT and Computing.

Following this Stacey Pogoda, a UEL Senior Lecturer in Gaming and Games Design, told her personal story and that of others who have been persecuted for being women in the field of IT and Gaming.

The trainees made a powerful case for using female role models when teaching classes about IT and Computer Science. They offered advice about how to encourage primary school girls to enjoy and take up the subject.

They finished by saying “We think making a difference begins at school.”

US art exhibit highlights women in STEM 

Science editor and writer Maia Weinstock (@20tauri) describes a unique ALD event in the United States this fall. 
Go Ahead And Do It
To mark the sixth annual Ada Lovelace Day, artistic portraits of more than 30 pioneering women in the STEM fields will be on display for one month at the Art.Science.Gallery. in Austin, Texas. The exhibit, Go Ahead and Do It: Portraits of Women in Science, opens on Saturday, Sept. 13th and runs through Ada Lovelace Day, Oct. 14th.

The show will feature paintings, drawings, collages, a quilt, and framed LEGO figurines depicting STEM heroines throughout history. Scientists represented include classic STEM icons such as Hypatia and Marie Curie as well as more recent role models like Grace Hopper, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, and Shirley Ann Jackson.

The idea for the show was hatched earlier this year when I published a photo essay for Scientific American on the same theme entitled, 15 Works of Art Depicting Women in Science. One of the artists I interviewed, Hayley Gillespie, happens to run the Art.Science.Gallery., and after chatting about the possibilities, we decided to bring the virtual exhibit into the real world. The 11 featured artists in Go Ahead and Do It — the title of which is borrowed from a famous Grace Hopper quote — all have unique styles and reasons for covering the topic of women in science, so we will be including notes about their motivations and inspirations as part of the show.

In keeping with ALD tradition, the last two days of the exhibit will encourage action from the public. On the penultimate day, the gallery will host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon that will teach attendees how to add images of women in STEM to Wikimedia Commons, the repository of photos and other media used on Wikipedia articles. On Ada Lovelace Day itself — the final day of the show — the gallery will host an ALD party that will include a brief talk by yours truly on some of the history and sociology behind portraiture featuring women in STEM.

We’d love to see visitors from around the globe attending our show, so please help us spread the word! We fully acknowledge that most visitors will be from Texas, but we absolutely hope to see you there if you can join us. Of course, if you know of anyone who lives in or travels to Austin, please send them our way! The gallery will include a shop with items related to the show, and all original artworks will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Girlstart, a non-profit that provides opportunities for girls to become involved in STEM fields.

ALD Live at the Royal Institution

We are delighted to announce that we have partnered with the Royal Institution for Ada Lovelace Day Live on Tuesday 14 October 2014. The Royal Institution of Great Britain, or Ri, was founded in March 1799 and remains at the forefront of public engagement with science. It still holds fast to its original mission:

“The speedy and general diffusion of the knowledge of all new and useful improvements in whatever quarter of the world they may originate; and teaching the application of scientific discoveries to the improvement of arts and manufactures in this country, and to the increase of domestic comfort and convenience.”

Ever since its founding in 1799, the Ri has been open to all, and women have always been accepted as members. The first woman to speak at the Ri was Joan Evans in 1923, and many have followed in her footsteps, including Kathleen Lonsdale, Dorothy Hodgkin and Jane Goodall. The Ri will be celebrating women in science throughout 2014, with all nine of the historic ‘Friday Evening Discourses’ given by women.

Of course, those of you who’ve read our biography of Ada Lovelace, or were with us at The IET in 2012, will remember her fangirlish admiration for Faraday, not to mention hercolourful comparison of him to a tortoise. Lovelace lived on St James’s Square, near the Ri, so although there are no records that confirm it, it is quite likely that she visited. We do know, however, that her daughter, Anne Blunt, attended a Discourse on 13 June 1851.

Needless to say, we are very excited to be able to hold our next Live event in the Ri’s iconic lecture theatre, venue of Faraday’s Christmas Lectures and the home of science for over 200 years. Tickets will become available later on in the year and you will, of course, be the first to know, so join our newsletter, put 14 October 2014 in your diary and join us then!