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Professional Engineering Institutions – The IET

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Rail Engineer 192 (Sept/Oct 2021) looked at the benefits of being a member of a professional engineering institution and covered the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE). In this issue we cover the larger Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The advantages of being a member of a professional engineering institution include career development support and guidance, seminars and conferences, monthly journals, and the award of post-nominals once registered as a professional engineer.

The IET has a 150-year history, is registered as a charity, and is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution. It was formed in 2006 from the combination of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), formed in 1871, and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) dating from 1884.

The institution now covers far more than just electrical engineering and its membership is in excess of 158,000 drawn from 153 countries around the world.

In the UK, the IET has a licence from the Engineering Council to establish professional registration for the titles of Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer, Engineering Technician, and ICT Technician.


Today, members of the IET include telecoms engineers and they can trace their heritage back to the Society of Telegraph Engineers (STE) formed 17 May 1871. On 22 December 1880, the STE was renamed as the Society of Telegraph Engineers and of Electricians. In 1887, it was decided to change the name to the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE). 

Following mergers with the Institution of Electronic and Radio Engineers (IERE) in 1988 and the Institution of Manufacturing Engineers (IMfgE) in 1990, the IEE had a worldwide membership of around 120,000. It is well known for publication of the IEE Wiring Regulations (also known informally as the ‘wiring regs’) which continue to be written by the IET and to be published by the British Standards Institution as BS 7671.

The modern IET

Today the IET is governed by the president and Board of Trustees with the IET Council serving as the advisory and consultative body, representing the views of the members and offering advice to the Board of Trustees. Several prominent engineers have served as the IET president, the current president being Sir Julian Young KBE CB FREng. As with other institutions, the IET helps represent the engineering profession in matters of public concern and assisting governments to make the public aware of engineering and technological issues.

Professional registration by the IET of IEng is roughly equivalent to North American Professional Engineer designations, with CEng set at a higher level. Both designations however have far greater geographical recognition. This is made possible through a number of networks for engineers established by the IET including the Professional Networks – worldwide groups of engineers sharing common technical and professional interests.

Career support

The IET has an important educational role, seeking to support members through their careers by offering advice and guidance at all levels to secure the future of engineering. It accredits degree courses worldwide in subjects relevant to electrical, electronic, manufacturing and information engineering, and secures funding for professional development schemes for engineering graduates including awards scholarships, grants and prizes.

Its website provides information to the general public on topics such as solar power, nuclear power, fuel cells, micro-generation and the possible effects on health of mobile phones and power lines. The IET also runs the bibliographic information service Inspec, a major indexing database of scientific and technical literature, and publishes books, journals, and magazines such as Engineering & Technology to members. Over 80,000 technical articles are available via the IET Digital Library.

IET.tv is an online resource of multidisciplinary engineering and technology information. It comprises presentations, lectures and training videos. With a range of search and user functionalities, IET.tv enables online video access to a range of topics and expertise. IET.tv also has a YouTube presence, where it publishes a wide variety of content related to engineering and technology.

The IET is also the lead organisation in charge of designing and delivering the UK Cyber Security Council, alongside 15 other cyber security professional organisations collectively known as the Cyber Security Alliance.

Levels of membership

The IET has several categories of membership, some with designatory postnominals. Honorary Fellow (HonFIET) refers to distinguished individuals whom the IET awards to honour services rendered to the IET. Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET) refers to a person who has demonstrated significant individual responsibility, sustained achievement, and professionalism in engineering.

Member (MIET or TMIET) is for professional engineers (MIET) and technicians (TMIET) with suitable qualifications and involvement in areas relevant to the interests of the Institution. MIET is a regulated professional title recognised in Europe by the Directive 2005/36. Associate Member is for persons with an interest in areas relevant to the interests of the Institution who do not qualify for the Member category. Student membership is open to persons studying to become professional engineers and technicians.


The IET Achievement Medals are awarded to individuals who have made major and distinguished contributions in the various sectors of science, engineering and technology. The medals are named after famous engineers and persons, such as Michael Faraday. The Faraday Medal is the highest medal and honour of the IET and is awarded for notable scientific or industrial achievement in engineering, or for conspicuous service rendered to the advancement of science, engineering and technology. It is awarded not more frequently than once a year.

The J J Thomson Medal for Electronics was created in 1976 by the Electronics Divisional Board of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) and is awarded to candidates who have made major and distinguished contributions in electronics. The Ambrose Fleming Medal for Information and Communications were first awarded in 2007 to Professor Simon Kingsley. It was named after John Ambrose Fleming, the inventor of vacuum tubes, and is awarded to candidates who have made outstanding and distinguished contributions to digital communications, telecoms, and information engineering.

The Mensforth Manufacturing Gold Medal is awarded to candidates who have made major and distinguished contributions to advancing the manufacturing sector. The Mountbatten Medal celebrates individuals who have made an outstanding contribution, over a period of time, to the promotion and application of electronics or information technology.

Introduced in 2015, the IET Volunteer Medal is awarded to individuals for major and outstanding contributions voluntarily given to further the aims of the IET and, since 1978, the IET has awarded the Young Woman Engineer (YWE) award to top female engineers in the UK to recognise the contribution they make, and to encourage young women to consider engineering as a career.


The IET offers Diamond Jubilee undergraduate scholarships for first year students studying an IET accredited degree. Winners currently receive between £1,000 to £2,000 per year, for up to four years, to help with their studies. IET also offers postgraduate scholarships intended for IET members carrying out doctoral research. The postgraduate scholarships offered by the IET assist members with awards of up to £10,000 to further research engineering related topics at universities. The IET Engineering Horizons Bursary is offered at £1,000 per year for undergraduate students on IET accredited degree courses in the UK and apprentices starting an IET Approved Apprenticeship scheme, and for those UK residents who have overcome personal challenges to pursue an engineering education.

Inspiring the next generation about the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is something that IET believes to be essential. It supports this by running fun and engaging initiatives for children to get involved with, exciting them to think about engineering and technology as a possible career.

The IET worldwide

The IET has a number of region-specific branches which it refers to as ‘Local Networks’. These include: the Australian Local Network of the IET, which has representation in all the states and territories of Australia, including the state branches, their associated Younger Members Sections, and university sections in Australia; the IET Canadian Toronto Network, which covers IET activities in the Southern and Western areas of Ontario and has approximately 500 members; the IET China office, which is in Beijing and started in 2005 with the core purposes of international collaboration, engineering exchange, organisation of events and seminars; and the Hong Kong Local Network which has representations in the Asian region and provides a critical link into mainland China.

The IET Italy Local Network was established in 2007 with the purpose of representing the aims and services of the IET, locally. An IET India Office was established in 2006 and has eight Local Networks: Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kanyakumari, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nashik and Pune. Local Networks are also present in Kenya, Kuwait, and Malaysia, among many other locations.

The IET also has a number of technical communities, including the IET Railway Technical Network. The Railway Technical Network is currently running a webinar/seminar series showcasing railway construction projects around the world. The objective of the series is to give audiences an understanding of various engineering challenges and solutions experienced when constructing a new railway. The presentations last 20 to 30 minutes, followed by 15 to 30 minutes Q&A and can be viewed on the IET On Demand platform.

For further information visit www.theiet.org

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