The president of more than 100,000 mechanical engineering professionals has called for improved measurement of climate change.
Professor Isobel Pollock, the second female president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, giving a presidential address to an audience of engineers in Yorkshire, said measurement had never been a completed science – there were constant improvements.
“So what new measurements do we need now?” she asked. “Climate change is one of the most challenging issues facing industry and policy-makers today. We need better information to make the best policy decisions we can. And one way is to get the most accurate data.”
That was vital not just to “corporations large and small” but also to politicians and the public. “People talk about ‘a tonne of CO2’ – but who knows what a tonne of CO2 even looks like? We need to have sensible measurements in terms that people can understand. If we could find a way to produce a measurement that we can base decisions on, that would be very helpful.”
Prof Pollock, speaking at mechanical seal manufacturer AESSEAL’s Global Technology Centre in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, said improved measurements would be crucial in everything from manufacturing plants to motor vehicles, from energy efficiency to the latest forms of energy production.
“Measurement has been developing and improving through time. But with new technologies there will be more to come.”
She also spoke of the need for continuing education of the public – after the UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, The Big Bang, 55 per cent of young people surveyed said a career in engineering was desirable, compared to 26 per cent of the public.
She praised the work of engineers, including AESSEAL (overall winner of the Institution’s Manufacturing Excellence Award 2011, and manufactured the trophies in 2012) and presented AESSEAL managing director Chris Rea with certificates of Fellowship of the Institution.
Prof Pollock is the daughter of an extended family of engineers in Northern Ireland. After graduating as one of four female engineering students in her intake at Imperial College, London, Prof Pollock’s career has been in Yorkshire – first at ICI in Huddersfield, followed by DuPont Howson, Leeds, Robert McBride, Bradford, and Beatson Clark, Rotherham. She is now a businesswoman, consultant, and Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in Engineering and Design at the University of Leeds School of Engineering. She also has an Honorary DSc from Huddersfield University.
The Institution has seen an impressive rise in membership – between 2011 and 2012 alone it leapt from 94,130 to 104,330. And the 100,000th member, in January 2012, was a woman: Nicola McClatchey, also from Northern Ireland. Its first woman president was Sheffield’s Pam Liversidge, in 1997.