Leaving the Institution



Yesterday the IET shut down their email alias service, which is the only thing I cared about as a member. So come 2020 I expect that I’ll no longer be a member (MIET) or keep the designation of Chartered Engineer (CEng) that goes with that.


I joined the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) as a student associate member during the early days of my electronics degree in 1990. In the summer of 1996 they launched an email forwarding service for members and I became [email protected], which was my primary online identity until 15 months ago when they announced that the service would be shut down.

Email was the only service I cared about

For almost 30 years I kept paying my dues.

In early ’99 I completed the process to become a ‘corporate’ member (MIEE) and a Chartered Engineer (CEng), which was highly encouraged in the Royal Navy (and they did provide an excellent IEE approved training scheme[1]). I had just turned 28[2]. My identity as an engineer was further reinforced, the Internet was exploding into every aspect of daily life, and I was @iee.org.

In ’06 the IEE merged with the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) to become the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). It was not a move I supported or welcomed, and they didn’t even have the domain iet.org – instead having theiet.org. But at least they kept on forwarding @iee.org email.

A few years later new wiring regulations published by The IET meant that their Chartered Engineer members (and fellows) weren’t even allowed to run an extension socket in their own home, causing outcry amongst many old timers. But at least they kept on forwarding @iee.org email.

In ’12 a colleague offered to sponsor my application for Fellow (FIET), which in the end I didn’t do. But at least they kept on forwarding @iee.org email.

Last year my physical membership card broke. They refused to send me a new one without a rigmarole of (insecure) privacy theatre. It became a symbol of our broken relationship:


I knew by then that there was little point in getting a new one.

Letters after my name

When I was a junior naval officer it was usual for more senior officers to have brass name tallies on their door like Lt Cdr Mike Watt RN BEng CEng MIEE.

That isn’t a thing any more. Not in the Navy, or in any other walk of life that I typically encounter. My company (in keeping with modern convention) doesn’t even let me put letters after my name on my business card.

Professional subscriptions

My company also instituted a policy that ‘memberships and subscriptions for individuals is not a reimbursable expense’. If my employer doesn’t care that I’m CEng MIET then why should I?

Join the BCS instead?

Probably not.

I have a few months left to make my mind up on this and possibly transfer my CEng, so I’m still ‘thinking grey‘ about it.

But on the balance of probability I probably won’t bother.

I asked a friend who’s a Fellow of the British Computer Society (FBCS) who didn’t do a great job of persuading me.

And then it was another FBCS who recently told me ‘I’m not technical‘ – hardly inspiring.


The IET and I drifted apart many years ago, but I tolerated the self serving executive and increasing irrelevance to the modern world because their email redirection embodied my identity. But that’s gone now, and I have no reason left to stay (never mind pay £hundreds a year).


[1] Most of the training was alongside colleagues specialising in marine engineering and aeronautical engineering, so things like workshops had to cater to the IEE, the IMechE and RAeS. Alongside making printed circuit boards and soldering I learned welding, fitting and turning, milling, pattern-making and moulding. It’s a set of practical skills that have served me well through my adult life.
[2] In theory it was possible to make CEng at 27, but delays in my training pipeline meant that I’d just tipped past my 28th birthday when I crossed the line.

3 Responses to “Leaving the Institution”

  1. WRT ‘letters after my name’ it’s true this is generally gone, except, it seems, in public service. There, emails are festooned with an explosion of letters and listings of certs and orgs, many of which are silly. Also, anecdotally speaking, in my experience, the more of those they use, the weaker the skills they have.

  2. The ACM still provides an email address. I feel the same way about it, the permanent professional address is one of the most valuable parts of the membership.

  3. 3 Simon Keen

    I graduated in computer science in 1981 and could become a member of the BCS automatically I didn’t bother, it was an irrelevance even then. The ACM was the body that was worth looking at in software. The BCS hasn’t improved so I wouldn’t bother joining. CEng is important in Europe but not as much in s/w as hardware. It is a pity these orgs did not manage to drive the industry forward in both quality and achievement, in reality they held it back.

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