Joining the IHE is easy using our new online application processJoin us now
Member of the Month
Professor Alan Woodside
- Monday November 22, 2021
Prof Alan Woodside OBE MPhil CEng FICE FIEI FCIHT FIAT FIHE is officially ‘retired’, but currently a visiting professorial fellow in civil engineering at Aston University as well as a private engineering consultant
What inspired you to become an engineer?
I enjoyed technical drawing, mathematics, construction and sciences.
What made you join the IHE?
I wanted to contribute to the development of safer, more durable and more economic highways. I have only been a member of the IHE for three years.
What contributed to your decision to become professionally registered?
I believe that all academic staff teaching highway engineering in universities or colleges should be professionally qualified.
Has professional registration benefited your career and your employer?
As an academic and researcher for 40 years I believe I have been able to teach, guide and direct young lives. I have supervised 58 PhD graduates from across the world. As a member of the Joint Board of Moderators I am able to assess other universities and thus assist my own establishment. I have also endeavoured to link my research and teaching to my consultancy.
Is there any advice you would give to other members?
Continue to learn something new every day. Constantly ask yourself: ‘Is there a more efficient way to do that task?’ When it comes to professional registration, do not hesitate, set your sights on expanding your knowledge and never stop your education.
Please describe your role within your workplace
I act as a consultant throughout the world, endeavouring to solve highway engineering problems, with more than 500 consultancies.
Can you describe a typical working day?
Checking examination papers for a university; assessing an application for IEng or CEng, drafting an application for a research grant for a client; preparing for a court case; preparing a lecture for a short course; analysing results from a series of laboratory tests.
Are there any particular challenges or unusual aspects to your role?
Doing something for £1 that anyone could do for £5.
What do you find most enjoyable about your job?
W B Yeats said: ‘Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.’ My enjoyment is seeing fires being lit.
Is there a personal professional achievement that stands out in your career?
In the 2012 New Year Honours list, the Queen awarded me the OBE for ‘services to highway engineering and higher education’.
What do you consider the biggest challenges facing the industry?
The biggest challenge facing the highway industry will be the finite resources of petroleum/ bitumen – less than 30 years left worldwide.
Where do you see yourself in your career in five years?
My ambition within the IHE is to increase membership, resurrect the Northern Ireland branch and establish an MSc in highway engineering to embrace all of the IHE CPD courses.
Do you participate in any other career-related activities, such as mentoring, volunteering or membership of other engineering groups?
I am a STEM Ambassador (Ambassador of the year 2018). I review for the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, the Institution of Engineers Ireland, the Institute of Asphalt Technology, and the IHE. As a member of the assessment panel of the Joint Board of Moderators I help assess all university degree courses. I also act as a mentor.
Outside work, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am a governor of a nursery school, a primary school, a grammar school and a regional college and serve on three university industrial advisory boards. I am vice chairman of the board of governors for a school in Cyprus. I am also visiting professor in highway engineering at the Technical University of Malaysia. I organised and instigated an award for primary school children (throughout Ireland) who have shown ‘encouragement to others’