Henderson Colloquium 2019: How Can Structural Engineering be an Unending Stream of Goodness?

From 1-3 July the British Group held this annual event at Christ’s College Cambridge, where twenty invited delegates – structural, system and mechanical engineers, architects and an artist – explored what characterises structural ‘goodness’ in the future, and how future changes in technology and society will help or hinder the profession’s ability to create it?

The event’s title came from a quote from President Herbert Hoover, who was originally an engineer. All delegates made short presentations to the group, and plenty of time was left for discussion, which extended into the formal and informal meals arranged.

Whilst the question was deliberately ‘open’ several distinct themes emerged. How should we respond to the climate emergency? How to balance the disruption and opportunity of digital design? How do we attract the future skills needed by the profession? How do we ‘tell our story’ – especially in the face of stakeholders who don’t want to hear? Some even explored the interface between structural engineering and philosophy!

After 20 excellent presentations, all delegates agreed that recommendations will be developed by a working group to be shared with IABSE and the industry, as action is vitally needed in several areas explored. A summary of proceedings is to be published on the British Group’s website.