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What is Fellowship?
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
I'm not sure which forum this belongs in, this seems to be the closest?

A question, what is Fellowship in the context of the IET? Is it the recognition by the profession of somebody who stands out in their field, their profession and in general as an engineer and character? Or is it just a "supersize" membership.
As the only route to Fellowship of the IET seems to be by applying on your own behalf, it looks like the latter. There doesn't seem to be any scope for recognising those engineers who really do stand out, but aren't self-seeking enough to look for recognition. I know personally some engineers who in my opinion are natural Fellows but would never put themselves forward for this recognition.
52 Replies
Maurice Poole 13637036
132 Posts
In my experience, a waste of effort.  Despite equal status in same company, different sites, and similar career patterns and fault recoveries to match - but bigger and further-reaching ones in the latter case, and bigger responsibilities with equuivalent to two sites in my case, I had not had sufficient responsibility, I was told.  Retired now so why worry?  I recall my son in another Institution referred to their Fellows from his experience (and I knew just one of them to be an exception and saw him bucking trends at that, so possibly supporting the rule if not quite proving it) as "stuffed shirts".  I know a lot of FIETs and would not so describe them.  But I still rest my case.
David Parr 16373115
283 Posts
Hello Alex,

The requirements for Fellowship are quite well defined on the IET website, and there are many different "types" of Fellow. Anyone who applies for professional registration is looked at with regard to Fellowship, and may be invited to apply. In my role as PRA, I tend to look out for what I think are suitable candidates although it's not particularly my role, but I'll suggest it to the Fellowship people and/or the candidate If I think that there might be an obvious case. Yes, most engineers have a problem "bigging themselves up", so I try to help them to do so when they apply for registration - I know many other PRAs do the same - that's why we are PRAs. :)

Maurice, there are doubtless some stuffed shirts in an organisation with 160,000+ members, however "natural wastage" should cure that particular problem in the long run :) The newly adopted rules around how the institution is governed are a refreshing wind blowing through the corridors of Savoy Place in my opinion!
David Parr 16373115
283 Posts
Fellowship Criteria: http://www.theiet.org/membership/types/fiet/fellow-criteria.cfm
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
David, what you are describing are the requirements for those engineers who are seeking out this additional title. That is exactly my point. Those seeking Fellowship and able to tick the right boxes will attain it. The truly great engineers I know would appreciate being recognised by their institution, but would not seek out this recognition in the way you are describing. As with registration, it is a sales pitch, "300 – 500 (max) word narrative covering X, Y & Z". I feel the whole mindset is inappropriate.
David Parr 16373115
283 Posts
I can sympathise with what you are saying, however how would it work in practice? How does the institution monitor its 160,000+ members and identify who is worthy of Fellowship? In most cases, it has to be the individual bringing their talents to the attention of the IET doesn't it?

Regards,
Shee Chew 17932487
411 Posts
The criteria favours someone in a great company or academia. 

Chris Chew
I can not resist this topic, however I apologise for going off at a tangent! First the 'stuffed shirt' syndrome, this seems to go with the whole perception of 'higher office' for some individuals. Empire Building is still a popular sport. My real issue is with the lower echelons, in most Institutions, it is quite hard to convince non Members to make that first move into Associate or Eng Tech level. For example there are many electricians who would benefit from doing so. So often the decline to join is followed by the misguided assumption that the 'Institution' is Elitist!! At this point I get quite upset, there is a world of difference between that and Exclusive, and in my opinion many people get the two confused, none of the Institutions I am a Member of, are exclusive, however like most people, I would endeavour to be the best in what I do, if I am the best, perhaps I would be able to join an Elite group. There are many elite units who have trained and studied hard and long to be at the peak of their profession or duty, they are rightly applauded. I can think of many exclusive 'establishments' that are well beyond my grasp, either I do not know the right people, or my personal fortune falls just short of the required entry level!
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
Michael, I will grant that there is probably a problem with inappropriate perceptions, most likely in both directions. Did you have any thoughts on the original question?
Hello Alex

From where I stand the issue is unlikely to affect me personally, thus I have not paid much attention other than believing one had to be nominated by other Fellows in the first instance (perhaps not in the IET). I feel it is complex once we start to dissect the good, bad, and downright glory seeking. I trust in the examiners to consider each case on its individual merits, I believe this does happen. In my opinion, Fellow status should be by invitation, or at least nomination.

Mike


Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
Michael, I am given to understand that in the IET, Fellowship is solely by application on behalf of oneself. There doesn't appear to be a mechanism for nomination.
Shee Chew 17932487
411 Posts
There is a category of Hon Fellows. They are invited by IET.

Honorary Fellows are elected by the IET Board of Trustees. Honorary Fellows are:   

  • Persons distinguished by their work in any engineering discipline falling within the objects and purposes of the IET, or
     
  • Distinguished individuals whom the IET desires to honour for services rendered to the IET or whose association is of benefit to the IET.
Ordinary fellowship application will be evaluated based on your last 5 years significant development in your career.

For senior members that may be a problem.

Chris Chew
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
I've always imagined Honorary Fellowship to be something you would award to a celebrity like Steven Fry if they had done something outstanding for STEM. I wonder if there is a list of honorary engineering fellows?
Maurice Poole 13637036
132 Posts
Yes Alex, the HonFIET list is at http://www.theiet.org/resources/library/archives/institution-history/hon-fellows.cfm

Maurice
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
It doesn't say much about them, for example if they are engineers or not, although there are a good few Doctors, Professors & suchlike. A couple every year, so a tiny proportion of our Fellows. If you aren't known to the Trustees, I guess you won't get on the list? 

David Parr:
Hello Alex,

The requirements for Fellowship are quite well defined on the IET website, and there are many different "types" of Fellow. Anyone who applies for professional registration is looked at with regard to Fellowship, and may be invited to apply. 

Fellowship Criteria: http://www.theiet.org/membership/types/fiet/fellow-criteria.cfm


Hi David... the criteria are well defined, in that you need to qualify under (at least) two of the nine categories - but it is unclear what level you have to meet within each criteria.

For example:
  • I'm IEng (Engineering Council) and FBCT CITP (BCS)... is that "enough" Repute?
  • I'm chairman of MISRA-C, recently appointed as chair of BSI IST/5/-/26 and a member of several BSI/ISO committees... is that "enough" Service?
  • I speak at various conferences (etc)... does that count as "Repute" or is it "Influence and Contribution"... and how much do I need?
I'd be quite interested in becoming FIET - but I don't want to waste £129 finding out I'm not worthy.
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
So Andrew, what does Fellowship mean for you?
For me, being awarded a Fellowship is a recognition by my Institution of my achievement and contribution... this is different from (eg) IEng/CEng which is awarded by a different body (the Engineering Council).  In some respects, this is more applicable since the abolition of the AMIEE interim-membership level.

It also recognises my committment to my Institution - that I will continue to develop myself, that I will continue to help develop others, and that I will continue to help develop my Institution.

I am proud of my (long-standing) Fellowship of the British Computer Society (or the Chartered Institute for IT as they prefer to style themselves now)... perhaps it is time to try and add an IET one?
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
Andrew, you would seem to relish seeking out new awards & recognitions. Would you consider this an essential attribute of a Fellow?

Alex Barrett:
Andrew, you would seem to relish seeking out new awards & recognitions. Would you consider this an essential attribute of a Fellow?


That is a good question...

Students of psychology will have met Abraham Maslow who proposed his Heiracrchy of Needs... as a Professional Engineer, I am always seeking to improve myself - induging in a bit of "self-actualization". By definition, meaningful self-improvement is measured by benchmarks ("awards and reognitions" if you like!) but equally important is sharing my experiences and skills with others. Not least my children!

I hold my FBCS in high regard (more than I do the BCS, but that's a separate discussion) because I was recommended/nominated for it (albeit then submitting an formal application)

But rest assured, one does not (eg) sit on standards committees to boost one's own ego!
Ian Dufour 23242752
26 Posts
Alex
 
I’m Chair (as a volunteer, not IET Staff) of the Fellowship Policy Committee, which awards Fellowships, so here is some information to address your question of “what is Fellowship in the context of the IET?”.

First of all, lets establish that Fellow is a Membership grade.  It is also distinct from Honorary Fellowship, which is not dealt with by my Committee but by the Board of Trustees, and as you have noticed only adds a very few people each year.
 
I assume you have read the IET page on applying for Fellowship which details the key expectation for Fellows and outlines the nine criteria, of which any applicant has to meet two or at most three.  Additional details on the nine criteria are in the downloads.   I do not need to repeat all that detail here but I will highlight a few points.
 
Fellowship is peer assessed against the expectation and criteria but the key aspect is “sustained high levels of achievement for five years or more”.  Fellowship is therefore a recognition by industry peers that you are at the top level in your profession.  That is why it is aspired to and sought by many people. In addition, Fellows are encouraged to give back to the profession in various ways and many of our Fellows are enthusiastic volunteers, for example in Registration and Local Networks matters.
 
Something not always realised is that as a membership grade the criteria are established wholly by the IET (some great recent work here by my predecessors) and are unrelated to the Engineering Council.  They also differ to the criteria set by other Engineering Institutions.  As a consequence, Fellows of the IET do not have to be Registered engineers and as we also recognise contributions to engineering by cognate (related) disciplines they do not even have to be engineers, although of course most are.
 
I could add that the profile of a senior engineering or production manager in a large company applying (say) using the leadership and responsibility criteria will be altogether different from an entrepreneur applying (say) using the creativity and enterprise criteria and different again to a senior researcher applying (say) under the insight and experience and innovation criteria.  What brings them all together is that they will be assessed by their peers and we have well over a hundred trained Fellow assessors drawn from all aspects of engineering to ensure a reasonable match.
 
Addressing a few other points, we expect Fellows to apply rather than be nominated because they need to show us some personal commitment and be likely to contribute back to the profession.  Also, for those considering that they may meet our reasonably high standards we have specific Fellow advisors (as we do for Registration, i.e. PRAs) who can provide advice and after that we have a pre-assessment process where further views can be obtained on the likelihood of success of an application without incurring the fee. Contact Fellowship (at) theiet.org for more information.
 
Finally, a few stats as at October this year.  There are about 8.7k Fellows out of about 164k members (c.5.3%).  About 6.9k of the 8.7k are Registered engineers.  We currently add something around 250 a year – there is no limit on numbers other than meeting the criteria and the peer assessment.  We have Fellows in 85 countries.  We only have 172 female Fellows and would like more - but first we need more females in engineering.

I hope this helps.
 
Ian Dufour
 
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
Ian, yes, it does help, and confirms that to become a Fellow you have to push for this recognition, regardless of what else you may have done that is worthy. Many of our more gifted and valuable engineers are not the sort of people who are inclined to do this. To my mind it does look rather too much like a variant of the registration process.
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
Ian, this question applies to both registration & fellowship, we are often told we are assessed by our peers, but when this is queried, things go very quiet. Who determines an appropriate match to a particular applicant, and upon what basis? From my own experience I do have concerns in this area.

they will be assessed by their peers and we have well over a hundred trained Fellow assessors drawn from all aspects of engineering to ensure a reasonable match

Ian Dufour 23242752
26 Posts
Alex

To respond to your first point, I was brought up to know that the door to the top is marked "push".  Now I am older, if not wiser, I know that the world we live in is not formed by people waiting for things to happen.

I will answer your second point about peers in a few days but I have been in Savoy Place for two days and have some other things in my life to sort out first.

Ian
Alex Barrett 32191293
715 Posts
Ian, I would make the analogy with military decorations; if soldiers had to apply for their own decorations, we would see a very different set of chests adorned with ribbons. It would be nice if we did have a decent mechanism for significant peer recognition.
Ian Dufour 23242752
26 Posts
That's already in place.  Did you go to the IET Achievement Awards last month?  You could have invited yourself.  Very uplifting.  Included members and Fellows, some outsiders and some volunteers.

More on peers soon.

Ian

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