“Membership has its privileges.” The National Council has been giving this adage much thought in recent months. Our Institute exists to serve its members. We are a member-driven organization, one that reflects and acts on the needs of marine engineering professionals in Canada’s industry. Our members continue to say that membership should be a mark of career distinction. They have also remarked that the Institute has relevance as the best place to advance the work and business of those engaged in marine technology in our country. Members enjoy the social connection the Institute provides, and the opportunity to pursue their professional education in local meetings and at Mari-Tech.

Having been a member in three Branches, I can credibly reflect the sentiments of others when they observe that membership is a local affair. We share ideas, connections, the pursuit of business, and advocacy for marine engineering and technology most intensely in familiar circles. Branches are where the action is. So if the work of the Institute is to benefit members, then the work of the National Council is to support Branches in that endeavour. Getting this right means balancing interests and, sometimes, competing views. Should the Institute move to more of a single-tier and less professional qualification-based standard for the admission of new members? What can the Institute do to promote the marine engineering profession and to represent it in government and regulatory circles? How can the Institute serve students at the start of their careers? What services should the Institute offer centrally to all members, including relevant and improved information and connections in the coming new website? These are good questions the Council is asking, and are ones that should be recalled often.

As the annual year of Branch meetings begins again, please consider how you can get the most from membership in our Institute. Membership should benefit each of us. How the Institute makes that happen should be a question on all our minds. So, go ahead and ask it: “What is the Institute doing for marine engineering and for its members, locally and across Canada?” The many answers to this question will help shape our organization and make it relevant in the years to come. And a relevant organization with a sense of its place in our industry is one that will be best equipped to serve each of us.

Jeff Smith, Chair National Council