London: The UK’s Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), an independent professional association and charity for civil engineering professionals, has elected Professor Anusha Shah as its new President. She is the first Indian and the second woman to hold this prestigious position in the 205-year history of the institute, which has around 95,000 members worldwide.
Professor Shah took charge as the 159th President of ICE on Tuesday and delivered her presidential address at the ICE headquarters in London. She spoke on the theme of nature-positive engineering, which is the idea of designing and building infrastructure that enhances the natural environment and benefits the people.
She said, “My presidency will focus on how we can reposition our profession as nature-friendly and people-positive in the public’s mind. We have failed to appreciate the interdependence between infrastructure and nature. We are implementing nature-based and green solutions globally but at a limited scale. They are not yet mainstream.”
Professor Shah is an expert in water and environmental engineering and has 22 years of experience in leading and managing major projects and programs in the UK and internationally. She has worked on projects such as the Thames Tideway Tunnel, the London 2012 Olympic Park, the Crossrail 2, and the National Infrastructure Assessment.
She said that the construction sector is responsible for 30% of the global biodiversity loss, but adopting a nature-positive and people-positive approach can help engineers prevent environmental damage and create positive social impacts. She also highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in the engineering profession and urged the ICE members to be more proactive in engaging with the public and the policymakers.
Professor Shah was born and brought up in Kashmir, India. She developed an interest in engineering at the age of 23 when she visited a consulting company in New Delhi that was working on the conservation of Dal Lake in Kashmir. She wanted to learn more about the role of engineers in solving environmental problems.
She was one of the two recipients of the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship in 1999, which enabled her to pursue a Master’s degree in Water and Environmental Engineering at the University of Surrey in the UK. She later obtained a PhD in Environmental Engineering from Imperial College London.
She has received several honors and awards for her contributions to the engineering profession and society. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Engineering by the University of East London in 2021 for her efforts to combat climate change. She was also appointed as an Honorary Professor by the University of Wolverhampton in the same year for sharing her knowledge and expertise. She founded the Climate Change Advisory Panel for the Planet in 2018, which provides strategic advice on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
She was the youngest and the first female President of the ICE London Region, before becoming a Fellow of the ICE in 2016. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Women’s Engineering Society. She is passionate about mentoring and inspiring the next generation of engineers, especially women and girls.