The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) recently inaugurated Errol Kerst as its 115th president.
The ceremony took place in Johannesburg on Thursday 16 November in front of various champions of the infrastructure industry, government officials, engineering clients from both the private and public sectors, as well as SAICE past presidents and other members.
Kerst’s inaugural address entitled took place on “The 360 Degree Jigsaw Puzzle” was well received and featured quotes from various industry presidents from the past.
Quoting TWW Perry’s address in 1930 at a similar event, Kerst said that in a continent with such great distances separating the members, the viability of the Society [known as the SA Society of Civil Engineers at the time], can only be assured by each member contributing whatever part, small or great, he can to its objects and thus share in its efforts to be of usefulness to the profession and through it to the country in general.
Getting closer to members
Kerst, who is the owner of EK & Associates in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, also quoted from Dr Daniel Adamson, who was the President of Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1929, “The engineer is often blamed for not taking greater interest in public affairs to his own advantage and the public benefit; but one of our difficulties no doubt is that the technical developments that interest us are so much in advance of public knowledge that the public cannot understand us or our words, and we are too interested to stop and explain ourselves.”
Kerst commented that many of the quotes from 1930, 1950 and 1980 all have a similar feel to the challenges SAICE is facing in 2017!
In conclusion Kerst paraphrased the late President John F Kennedy, when he said: The new frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises; it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the SAICE membership during my year in office, but what I intend to ask of the members.
This in summary requires that the organisational structure of SAICE be changed to effect getting closer to the membership to be able to guide or mentor members from learner/student and graduate levels, which could lead to registration or certification of some form.