THE HONG KONG Institution of Engineers (HKIE) has come a long way since the old days when the organisation operated more like a country club where members could get together and socialise. Today, it is one of the largest professional bodies in Hong Kong, with a seat in the Legislative Council and votes in the election committee, and a consultant to the government on every aspect of its engineering projects. The organisation's main objective has been to pursue engineering excellence. Since 1975, when the government passed the HKIE ordinance, another role has been to ensure that members are qualified to serve the community. On other fronts, the HKIE is responsible for advancing engineering technology and making sure engineers follow a strict code of ethics and maintain professionalism. 'It is a brand name. The HKIE is a quality guarantee of its people,' said HKIE president Greg Wong. 'Since Hong Kong is a metropolis, we are always pushing for excellence in engineering, and for the government to change rules and introduce new technology, to encourage innovation for the betterment of society.' With the recent tough period for the profession, following the downturn in 2003-04, engineers in future will increasingly have to look northwards and to Macau for work. With more than 20,000 members, half of whom are fully accredited with the organisation, there is no doubt the HKIE is set to grow from strength to strength. 'Hong Kong engineers have to improve themselves and be technically advanced in order to compete in the Chinese market, which will be inevitable ... ,' Dr Wong said. He said that just as engineers in New York might serve clients outside of the city's immediate perimeter, Hong Kong engineers must do the same.