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Patrick Waterhouse, author of Successful Professional Reviews for Civil Engineers Fifth Edition, provides top tips on the review process. 

ICE Publishing at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Three essential issues to address at your professional review
  • Updated: 22 Jul 2022
  • Author: Patrick Waterhouse

Candidates and their mentors for the ICE’s Incorporated Professional Review (IPR) and Chartered Professional Review (CPR) should now have become familiar with the revised requirements for the reviews which became effective in January.   

Here I explain three key things for candidates to consider as they prepare for a review. 

UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) 

The primary change is the express reference to the UN SDGs. Some early review candidates sitting review under the new rules failed to address this requirement in sufficient detail, one even avoided it completely. In the latter case, the reviewers declined to review the candidate and passed back advice to the candidate and sponsors. 

Whilst sustainability has featured in the attributes for some years, this new emphasis must be recognised by candidates for the gravity it represents. This is likely to be examined with the same level of importance as, say, health and safety has in the past. 

Some firms in the industry have integrated the UNSDGs into their own systems so that should allow candidates from those firms to explain this attribute well, provided they can show they understand how the integration works. 

The three pillars of sustainability should be referred to when you address this attribute; social, economic and environmental. 

Do you understand the consequences for engineering of climate change? How should materials be chosen to minimise environmental impact? How can you measure sustainability and the impact your project has had? Explain these issues to your reviewers. 

The power of the written word 

The professional review report is part of your attempt to persuade the reviewers of your attributes. Limited to 5,000 words, the report should explain how you have met the attributes and will of course be responsible for the selection of many of the topics at the interview. 

You must consider your audience at all stages in the review process. Your two reviewers will be qualified civil engineers and are, therefore (like most professional engineers) likely to be logical thinkers. That is usually one outcome of an engineering education. There are no set rules as to how you structure your report, but you must ensure that you set your report out logically. There is a story to follow and it should be immediately apparent to the reviewers how you have demonstrated the attributes. 

Explaining “what we do” can be daunting and many professional engineers under-sell themselves or fail to explain the full extent of their responsibilities. Job titles vary from one place to another, so it is insufficient to say that you were a project manager or a principal engineer. Candidates must ensure that both words, responsibilities and experience, are addressed. Your responsibilities will have been allocated to you by your employer; your experience is what happened to you whilst managing those responsibilities. The Institution requires that you address each attribute, so ensure that all seven headings have been explained. 

Selling yourself online 

Whilst the Institution is slowly returning to providing in-person reviews, the majority of reviews remain online courtesy of MS Teams. 

Will it work? Can they hear me? What if I can’t hear them? These are all genuine concerns. As with the usual suggestions that in-person candidates should do a dry run travelling to the venue, you should hold a dry run here too to identify and solve any technical problems These are not things you should discover five minutes prior to your interview. 

Whatever your starting point, arrange for practice presentations online, with MS Teams and preferably with someone watching from a different room or building to replicate the review situation. 

On the day of the review, join the meeting from the invitation at least ten minutes before the start time. This allows for any difficulties or re-boots without delaying the start. You will be admitted initially into a lobby by a member of ICE staff acting as a concierge. You will wait until the reviewers are ready to start the meeting and the member of staff will let you into the main session. 

The reviewers have the same objective in an online review as they do in in-person reviews. They want to further explore your attainments.   

ICE’s guidance says that sketching may be required, and that MS Paint is the preferred software. There are mixed views about this from reviewers and candidates alike who were involved in the first online reviews. If you have better software on your machine that you can share through MS Teams, then feel free to use it, provided that the reviewers don’t need anything specific at their end to see what you have done. 

The task online is identical to that in person, to persuade the reviewers that you possess the attributes sought by the Institution. Make sure that you know how to use the technology to take full advantage of the situation. 

Patrick Waterhouse has been a reviewer for over 20 years. He has sat on a number of ICE panels including a Presidential Commission, local associations, the Professional Conduct Panel and the Dispute Resolution Panel. An expert in construction contract law and dispute resolution, he is a member of ICE’s registers of adjudicators and mediators/conciliators. He delivers training and development courses to major engineering organisations and is a renowned authority in NEC contracts. He is a keen supporter of making civil engineering more diverse and accessible and is the author of six ICE Publishing titles. 

Successful Professional Reviews for Civil Engineers, Fifth edition

For more information on the ICE Professional Review process, see Patrick Waterhouse’s recently published book on Successful Professional Reviews for Civil Engineers Fifth edition, available in Print and as an eBook. This book will be your comprehensive guide to the constituent parts of the ICE Professional Review process. It will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the criteria by which you will be assessed and how to demonstrate these in the final professional review. This book is invaluable reading for those preparing for professional review, students of civil engineering, supervising civil engineers, and training managers.