Getting engineers to adopt the Eng title instead of Mr or Ms or whatever could not have come at a better time.
The advertising campaign being studied by a consortium of groups in the engineering profession looks set to get off the ground towards the end of the year, and is aimed at raising the profile of the profession.
But publicity alone will not do the trick. As our guest columnist opposite observes, parents and role models are more important in the career choices of kids than TV advertising or careers officers. So if the launch of the campaign coincides with the appearance in public of professional people who elect to stand out as engineers by adopting a distinctive title as a prefix to their names, the message will be strengthened immediately.
The timing is good for another reason. The ad campaign is aimed at boosting the image of the profession not only among schoolkids but also among the the population at large. Against all this professional morale-boosting, what better time for engineers to come out of the closet, as it were, and claim for themselves the kind of title that their German counterparts have used with pride.
There could be a hitch, though. In Britain, the Eng title is intended to heal the rift between the differently-qualified incorporated and chartered engineers, by being available to both groups. But even if all engineers adopted the Eng moniker, most chartered engineers would still want to make their professional status known: hence Eng John Smith CEng on the business card. That is clearly overkill, so the first Eng ends up being dropped, and John Smith reverts to being ‘Mr’.
To make the Eng title stick, it may have to be confined either to chartered engineers or incorporated engineers but not to both.