Get talking – CEO’s message

Materials World magazine
10 May 2019

IOM3 CEO Colin Church discusses the work ahead as the Institute strives to champion responsible materials development and waste management.

Since 25 February 1869, engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists have been coming together under the umbrella of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, and its predecessors, to address the professional and societal challenges of the time. One just has to look at the recently released IOM3 digital library material around the first meetings of the Iron and Steel Institute to get a good understanding of that.

This focus on addressing challenges remains core to the Institute’s purpose today. In my relatively short time here, I have already been very impressed with the dedication and hard work of volunteers and employees alike in service of our members and our charitable objectives.

During this important anniversary year, therefore, we should allow ourselves a moment or two to take pride in what we have achieved over 150 years which, of course, is part of the reason for this commemorative edition of Materials World.

The Institute and its members work together across the materials cycle, from extraction, through design, characterisation, manipulation and manufacture, to use, reuse and disposal.

The demand for the expertise embodied in the Institute and its members has never been more acute. Materials have always been at the core of society’s evolution, from the Stone Age to the Industrial Revolution and beyond. Many of the most significant challenges humanity now faces – climate change, a growing, ageing, more urban and wealthier global population, environmental degradation affecting wildlife and agriculture, water and other resource availability to name a few – will require significant materials use and innovation to address these issues.

Expertise in materials, minerals and mining remains fundamental - from the use of traditional materials such as ceramics, wood, steel and concrete to build the low-carbon infrastructure we need, through novel biomedical materials we use to prolong and improve life, food packaging to prevent spoilage, to exotic elements essential to modern electronic devices. The Institute – with its professional membership, global reach, and charitable and Chartered status – has, I believe, a strong duty to play its part by helping its members be heroes of this societal challenge, not villains.

The Institute brings together the skill, passion and professionalism of the materials, minerals and mining communities in the UK and beyond to meet and overcome the myriad challenges we face and support the transition we need to make. Giving well-deserved recognition to people through professional membership, Chartership, awards and medals. Providing career and professional learning, upskilling opportunities and development support. Facilitating knowledge exchange through our information services, conferences and publications. Giving comfort to the public and governments as to the competence of our members. Holding professional members to account under the code of conduct. Providing an expert, dispassionate source of facts and evidence to support public policy and debate. Membership of and support for your Institute has arguably never been more important than now.

During our 150th anniversary year, along with celebrating our distinguished collective past, your Institute will be continuing the work to prepare itself for the future. We have started to upgrade our internal IT systems which, when complete early next year, will enable the provision of a much more personalised membership experience delivered in different ways.

We will be reviewing the range of benefits available to members and using the results of the membership survey to guide future development. With the help of our volunteers we will continue to deliver a strong programme of conferences and seminars and extend our training and educational provisions. Finally, subject to the blessing of the Privy Council, we will implement the governance changes you voted to support at last year’s extraordinary general meeting.

I am hugely excited by the prospect of working with everyone involved with the Institute to ensure IOM3 is equipped to support its members to help society face and overcome the challenges of the coming decades. And I very much hope you will join us in celebrating our history too.