Within the IET’s Accreditation & Awards department, staff and volunteers work closely together to identify and highlight excellence in individuals or in education and training schemes.
They deliver a range of high profile Scholarships, Awards and Prizes to the best, or most promising, engineers. The IET’s extensive range of awards includes the prestigious Faraday Medal and the £300,000 A F Harvey Research Prize.
Education programmes and training schemes in the UK and internationally are also recognised through Accreditation and Approval.
Associating the IET’s brand and reputation with an individual or organisation requires rigorous assessment procedures in order to protect the IET’s hard won reputation for quality and integrity. Assessments rely heavily on the IET’s volunteers to provide credibility and authority in their areas of expertise.
Online working has become an essential tool for engaging with volunteers. Scholarships and Awards applications are made and assessed using the Oxford Abstracts system, Academic Accreditation uses ADAMS as the basis for the accreditation process and Employer Accreditation and Apprenticeship Approval activity use online forums to support their decision making processes.
Opportunities for staff and volunteers to meet each other are also provided, as Dan Canty, Accreditation & Awards Manager, highlights.
“Although we use online working extensively, we find that regular meetings, even if it is only once a year, help strengthen the sense of being in a team. This is a powerful way to share experiences and deal with complex issues. Volunteers work with each other, and with staff, more effectively when they are provided with this kind of opportunity.”
Dan believes this one team approach to Accreditation and Awards is a success because both sides make the most of the support and resources the other provides.
“Volunteers know they will have a limited impact doing something by themselves but by working within the structure, resources and reputation of the IET, they can make a big difference. They share the IET’s objectives to support the profession, our members and to encourage people to join in and get involved. Volunteers also seem to find working together with these shared objectives rewarding.
There are many great examples of successful one team working in this department including the A F Harvey Search and Selection Committee. A virtual, international committee, chaired by IET Past President Sir John O’ Reilly and managed by IET Awards and Prizes Manager Linda Deleay, it is responsible for finding and assessing candidates for the £300,000 annual research prize. The committee is made up of eminent engineers from all over the world and adjusts its membership each year according to the research disciplines being assessed. Their efforts are coordinated by Linda and her team who provide the framework and support the Committee needs to make its decisions. A wider staff team works closely with Linda to arrange and promote the associated annual Prize Lecture, including Events, Marketing, iet.tv and Communications.
Academic accreditation is another example of why the one team approach is so important.
“The accreditation process is a three way relationship – universities, volunteers and staff,” says Dan. “One example of this relationship in action is our online ADAMS system. ADAMS facilitates the sharing of information between these three parties. Universities upload information and ADAMS analyses it and reformats it into a consistent and easy to understand set of online documents that are designed for accreditors.
ADAMS also tracks who is responsible for the next part of the process and ensures that all can see how their actions help to achieve the overall goal of awarding accreditation.”
All parties come together for regular training sessions which are aimed at universities and accreditors and are delivered jointly by staff and experienced accreditors.
Volunteers are often working for organisations who are customers and stakeholders.
“Often we get to test ideas on accreditors before putting them in front of our customers,” Dan explains. “This was very useful during the development of ADAMS. Right now, the accreditors are discussing how they will give feedback on each other’s performance on visits to ensure everyone receives the right training and is operating consistently. This suggestion came from the volunteers themselves.”