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Engineers needed more than ever

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Lord Browne of Madingley presented the Mountbatten lecture on 19 November 2008 at Savoy Place, the London home of IET.

The nature of the lecture is identifying that in today's society, engineers are needed now more than ever, to help the recovery of financial turmoil and economic downturn. The President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Lord Browne reflected on what makes a fit and proper education for tomorrow's engineer. He addressed the three important questions related to his theme – ‘engineering in the heart of society' – why engineering is so important to our lives, how best to equip engineers to fulfill their role and what contribution engineering can make to the great social challenges of the 21st century.

Lord Browne said, "the physical products of engineering are all around us. But what is not so visible is the real contribution that engineers can make to public life. As we address the global issues of poverty, disease and climate change, the partnership between engineers and policymakers will be more crucial than ever. We must educate our engineers so that they are equipped to tackle these challenges. And, in parallel, we must educate the general public so they recognise the unique insights and values engineering can bring to bear."

From 1997, Lord Browne has challenged the oil industry's rejection of going eco-friendly and set out to recreate British Petroleum (BP) as a green energy company. He joined BP as an apprentice in 1966 and remained with the corporation throughout his career.

In 1978 the National Electronics Council (NEC) instituted an annual lecture and the first lecture was given by The Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Following his assassination the following year the lecture was renamed the Mountbatten Memorial in his honour. In 1999, the NEC was wound up and the lecture is now organised by the IET. The Earl Mountbatten of Burma was President of the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers (IERE) the forerunner to the IET. He was also an Honorary Fellow.

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