Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Happy Christmas and New Year to EGA Members

A Chairde go Leir

On behalf of the UCD Engineering Graduates Association I wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.
We have had a very busy and successful year thanks to the attendances at our Annual Spring Lecture, our Annual Lunch/Distinguished Graduate Award and Autumn Panel Discussion the latter event led by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD. The high attendances at these events greatly raised our national profile and that in turn adds to our membership and engagement in Irish society. These events have all been recorded on our website including our new Engineers Newsletter.
This winter we are concentrating on growing our individual (€25/annum) and corporate (€250/€500/annum) members. I will be welcoming the first new corporate members early in the New Year and we will display their logos permanently on the EGA website.
Nollag Shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go leir.

P J Rudden

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Broad Welcome for Junior Cycle Reform – “Innovation and Identity”

The new Junior Cycle syllabus is termed “Innovation and Identity” by its authors the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) – a wonderful new organisation grown out of the Department of Education and Skills. The NCCA has created a new vision for secondary school education where the current focus is on Junior Cycle Reform and on Project Maths at Leaving Certificate levels.

I have been following the progress of this new development since it was first launched by then Minister Mary Coughlan in early 2010. This progress has continued under Minister Ruairi Quinn supporting NCCA in their mission.

The key skills that the new Junior Cycle seeks to embed in our young pupils are:
                                                       Managing Information and Thinking
                                                       Managing Myself
                                                       Working with others
                                                       Being creative
                                                       Staying well
As President of Engineers Ireland two years ago I was very critical of the old Junior Cycle at Second Level Education.In my school days, it was known as the Intermediate Certificate Examination later changed to the Junior Certificate Examination.

In 2009 I was Vice President of Engineers Ireland and was asked to chair a Task Force to investigate the teaching of Maths and Science at Second Level. This resulted from many senior national and international industry figures making negative comments about falling numeracy levels in Irish schools. This was just as the new Project Maths was being rolled out to 24 pilot Secondary schools countrywide.

The principal concern at the time was the relatively low % of students (16 - 19 %) taking Hons Maths at Leaving Cert. Because of the importance of Leaving Hons Maths to future careers in engineering and technology there were cries from industry to government to try to correct this deficiency. We published the Engineers Ireland Report in February 2010 making many recommendations most of which were taken on board by the Dept of Education and Skills.


The Engineers Ireland Task Force was well representative of industry, academia, teachers and Engineers Ireland. Vice Chair of the Task Force was President of NUIG Professor Jim Browne a Past President of Engineers Ireland. We set to work in late 2009 and it wasn't long before we realised that the principal challenge for Maths was not at Leaving Cert but earlier at Junior Cycle.

One of the key issues is that most Second Level Maths teachers had no sufficient qualification in Maths. They have a degree in an allied subject like Biology, Physics or Chemistry or another numerate language like Accountancy or Music. They may be excellent teachers in their core subjects but with no particular love or passion for Maths. These ‘out of field’ Maths teachers were invariably assigned to the Junior Cycle classes by School Principals whereas more qualified Math teachers were assigned to Leaving Cert classes.

Secondly we found that there was no 'joined up thinking' between Primary and Secondary education in Ireland. There was and still no national assessment of students at the end of Primary level and therefore no 'report card' for pupils to bring onto their new secondary school teachers. The respective primary and secondary teachers never meet. I thought this whole lack of asset management of the primary school student to be quite extraordinary and a systemic failure in the 'duty of care' we owe to our children. I understand that the new Second Level curriculum now deals with the necessary overlap with Primary Level.

Engineers Ireland President Dr. Chris Horn (second from left) launching the Engineers Ireland Report on Mathematics and Science, together with Teacher Reviewers Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin and Sarah Green with Engineers Ireland Vice President PJ Rudden, who was author of the Report and Eamon Prendergast, Engineers Ireland.
With regard to the then falling interest in Hons Maths at Leaving Cert this was found to be unsurprising as only about 40% were taking Hons at Junior Cycle level so it was inevitable that less than half that number would go on to take Hons at Leaving Cert.

In 2010 bonus points were introduced for grades at or above D in Leaving Cert Hons Maths. As a consequence the numbers taking Hons at both Junior and Leaving Cert level have swelled at least temporarily. While this may well prove to be simply a temporary 'quick fix', it does not deal with the fundamental problem of the need for better teaching and a more in depth understanding of the role that Maths has in creating the innovation agenda that will drive economic growth and jobs in the future.

The new Project Maths is based on a contextual understanding of how maths helps to solve the problems of everyday life. This is best illustrated by engineers who intuitively use maths every day to solve the problems of traffic, water supply, telecommunications, energy, smart phones and so on. It is therefore a long term project which will take a generation to embed in students who will eventually filter into the employment world. While some rote learning is needed from an early age (eg 5 or 6 times tables) Project Maths is more graphical than before and shows an increasing everyday relevance to everyday life.




Thursday, 5 December 2013

EGA Engineers hold Mock Interviews

Last year the Engineering Graduates Association decided to assist Final Years by conducting Mock Graduate Interviews for those graduates who wished to avail of this service. These interviews were kindly organised by Karina O'Neill Marketing Manager for the College of Engineering and Architecture. We conducted such interviews in October 2013 and we have more planned on Saturday 8th February 2014.
While the student uptake of this service was low last year I'm pleased to say that it has now grown to be very popular with Final Years. This is not surprising as it’s a highly useful service of which all Final Year students should avail to improve their prospects of early employment after graduation.
To have the benefit of scrutiny of your CV and career progress to date by a senior peer engineer prior to Employer Interview will be of great value.
Courtesy of Education-Portal.com
Firstly the student will get advice on CV preparation to focus on strengths and emphasise positive personal achievements to date. Secondly to be questioned on the quality of your career to date will identify any gaps in learning and experience for any likely employment. Thirdly it will give the student greater confidence to face his or her employment interviews.
I am very grateful to the EGA Board members who conducted these interviews on a Saturday morning in their spare time. The interviews have been led by senior Board Members Michael Loughnane, Ann Fingleton, Donal Wyse and Tony O'Brien.
The UCD Final Year students will be the richer for this positive life experience. I wish them well as they prepare for their Finals in 2014 and exit from college into the world of work experience.
Those who have switched to the new 5 year Masters programme (a prerequisite for Chartered Engineer status with Engineers Ireland post 2013) will have a further opportunity to train with mock interviews in 2014/15.

This area of career development is deemed of great importance to the EGA and for that reason we intend inviting the UCD Head of Careers to the next Board meeting in January 2014. 

Thursday, 28 November 2013

New EGA Strategy Adopted at AGM

Last week we had our Annual General Meeting on November 18th last which was our last meeting of 2013. It was a very business like meeting reviewing the events and achievements over the past year. Our membership has grown and our new membership fee structure will increase our revenue.

This years 'events' were all very news worthy and helped raise the EGA profile as we hosted An Taoiseach, leading engineering manufacturing entrepreneurs, the CEO of Water Regulation Authority for England and Wales, the German Ambassador and Pat Kenny.
PJ Rudden EGA President, Professor Gerry Byrne Dean of Engineering,
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Dr. Hugh Brady UCD President
We discussed and adopted the new UCD EGA Strategy 2013 - 2016 and a new EGA Constitution. There was an animated discussion on how 'fit for modern purpose' our current Engineering Building was. The final text is more realistic than some of the earlier drafts but all agree that UCD Engineering facilities and equipment needs a transformation to meet the current record intake numbers in 2012 and 2013. We need an ambitious plan to meet this growing demand together with a vision of how UCD can take its place among the world class engineering colleges in the world.
UCD EGA Strategy
The EGA Board was refreshed at the meeting arising from the resignations of Peter Brabazon and Angela Treanor. Peter gave a number of year’s good service coming from his educational training background. Angela was only one year on the Board but turned out to be a human dynamo on the early preparations for the Engineers Picnic and both Peter and Angela served on the Board Subcommittees which led to the new Strategy.

We filled one of the vacancies by electing Louise McGuinness a 2013 civil graduate working for Roughan and O'Donovan Consulting Engineers.
Louise McGuinness
All in all it was a satisfactory ending to a very busy year. Thanks again to the Board and Membership for all their support throughout the year.



Friday, 25 October 2013

Visit by Taoiseach on Engineering Manufacturing was Best Ever EGA Event

The EGA Autumn Panel Discussion which was led by An Taoiseach has been hailed by many senior engineers as the 'best ever EGA event'. There is no doubt that it was one of the most extraordinary Engineering events I witnessed in my lifetime. That coupled with the iconic Engineers Ireland Annual Conference in the new Titanic building in Belfast at the 2012 Titanic Centenary.  
An Taoiseach is greeted on arrival by EGA President PJ Rudden, UCD President, Dr. Hugh Brady and UCD Dean of Engineering,  Professor Gerry Byrne

We witnessed such a unique combination of Innovation Design Manufacture and Marketing experience and plain sensible savvy laid out so graphically for a Head of Government. We saw an Taoiseach take such copious notes that he was able to respond point by point to the 4 Panel Speakers. It was real democracy in action before our eyes and tremendous performances by both the Taoiseach and by our Panel in their interaction.

The 'warm up' act before the Taoiseach's arrival was filled at short notice by UCD Engineering Vice Principal for Research and Innovation Professor Tony Fegan. He described in some detail the UCD Research effort concentrating on the diverse number of 'spin out' companies like BiancaMed, APC and others.

UCD Engineering Vice President for Research and Innovation Professor Tony Fegan
The Taoiseach arrived in good form after Leaders Questions in the Dail and wasn't long telling me that he wanted to see some 'action points' out of the Panel Discussion. I promised him that he would not be disappointed and I don't now believe he was. He himself left with his own very clear list of Action Points following the extended Debate.  

EGA President PJ Rudden, Prof. Gerry Byrne, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Dr. Hugh Brady Dean of Engineering
I welcomed him as a Taoiseach who was finally leading us back to be masters of our own destiny as a people. Engineering Manufacturing was leading the national recovery through the export of our food, biomedical, pharma, ICT and other engineering products. Indigenous manufacturing represented some 50% of total manufacturing in Ireland - a little known fact when all the media emphasis is on FDI manufacturing which is also an essential but not the only ingredient in our industrial mix.

'This Government's top priority is jobs' the Taoiseach said in his speech 'a strong manufacturing sector is essential to growing our exports to sustain and create jobs in innovative, home-grown businesses as well as in foreign companies who locate in Ireland'.

The Panel Speakers, four leading manufacturing entrepreneurs from the four corners of Ireland then gave their presentations.

An Taoiseach with the panel of speakers L ro R: Philip O'Doherty, E&I Engineering, Martin Mc Vicar, Combilift,  Edmond Harty, Dairmaster and Ian Quinn Creganna Taxtc Medical
Ian Quinn in his presentation called for a stable environment to allow manufacturing which has a future in Ireland. Short term jobs will come from small indigenous businesses. Long term jobs will come from innovative Irish enterprises'
An Taoiseach Enda Kenny listens intently to Ian Quinn
'Manufacturing is sustainable in Ireland' said Martin McVicar 'it is better to be a big company in a small niche market than a small company in a big market. There needs to be a close link between R&D and Sales/Marketing and we have a relatively short time to market'. Manufacturing long load and specialised forklifts, he has grown employment from 160 in 2009 to 275 in 2013 and hopes to grow to 400+ by 2018.

Philip O'Doherty is in the electrical switchgear export business from Donegal has 475 staff in Ireland and 220 staff in Dubai. He promoted lean manufacturing and working with the education sector to produce highly skilled employees including showing local schools around his factory.

Edmond Harty employs over 300 staff making automatic milking machines. 'Innovation is the key' he said 'we are about making dairy farming more profitable, more enjoyable and more sustainable. Universities should be demonstrating the value and validating the performance of products. This would help exports. I can't get the people with the right skills in Ireland'.

Full attendance for Panel Discussion in Clinton Auditorium

A number of the speakers spoke of the support to FDI companies whereas there should be more State supports for indigenous Irish firms.

UCD Dean of Engineering Gerry Byrne then gave the Response to the Panel Discussion and spoke of the need to internationalise manufacturing education and practice calling the new cyber world the 'Internet of Things'. This was akin to the 4th generation industrial revolution which is now creating transformational in the way we manufacture and go about our business. Colleges like UCD are adapting to these new challenges and will continue to do this. Gerry was recently Chairman of the Irish Academy of Engineering national report on 'The Future of Manufacturing in Ireland' which he presented to the Taoiseach.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny listening to Professor Gerry Byrne's response to Panel Discussion
All through this the Taoiseach took extensive notes and then gave an unscheduled but very welcome and detailed response to what had been said. 'You four people represent the future of manufacturing and you have direct access now to the Head of Government. We hear what you are saying and we will investigate and act further if it creates new jobs for our people. I want to ensure jointed up Government thinking to ensure that we are acting correctly and efficiently. The Government through our Action Plan for Jobs will continue to support measures that will capitalise on our advantages - our people, our proximity to key markets and our pro-business policies.'
An Taoiseach wishing to reply in detail to the Panel Discussion

Taoiseach responds to Panel Discussion
 There was a very full and appreciative audience at the event including the Chairman of Enterprise Ireland Terence O'Rourke and its Director of Cleantech Industry and Global Markets Tom Kelly whose efforts were praised by a number of the Panel Speakers. The audience had many questions about industrial policy to which members of the panel replied.

At the UCD Panel Discussion were Professor Gerry Byrne,
Chairman of Enterprise Ireland Terence O'Rourke, PJ Rudden and Dr. Liam Connellan

Feedback on email, Twitter and Facebook concerning the event has been most positive and also personally by many who attended and thought it a most entertaining and inspiring event. I'm sure that the Taoiseach will bring his first hand knowledge to the relevant Ministers and what he learned to bear at many future educational and job creation events he will attend.

Thanks to UCD President Hugh Brady, Professor Gerry Byrne, Michael Redmond Buildings Officer, EGA Administrator Clare Davidson and security officers for permission and assistance in making the event such a unqualified success in the view of those who attended.

EGA President PJ Rudden with UCD Engineering Graduates at the Panel Discussion

Friday, 4 October 2013

"Manufacturing is a key part of the Governments Action Plan for jobs and is a driving force behind Ireland's economic growth" says Taoiseach

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD will lead the UCD Engineering Graduates Association Autumn Panel Discussion on Manufacturing on October 22nd next starting at 6pm in the Clinton Auditorium Belfield (beside Engineering Building). Manufacturing is very topical at present. What is not generally known is that indigenous firms produce about 50% of total Manufacturing in Ireland; the balance produced by foreign direct investment (FDI) firms from abroad who are also very welcome to Ireland.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, EGA President PJ Rudden and UCD President, DR. Hugh Brady at the centenary of the old UCD Engineering building (now the Taoiseach's office) 

The Taoiseach will be greeted on arrival by UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady, Dean of Engineering, Professor Gerry Byrne and myself. The Taoiseach will meet our distinguished Panel of Speakers from around Ireland - Ian Quinn of Creganna-Tactx Medical, Galway, Martin McVicar, Combilift, Clontibret Monaghan, Philip O'Doherty, E&I Engineering, Burnfoot, Donegal and Edmond Harty, Dairymaster Causeway, Co Kerry - who will tell their story of economic development and job creation - all from small beginnings each to national and international success stories.

Who would have thought that a small start-up company in North Kerry would be manufacturing and exporting 500 automatic milking machine installations in modular radial shape to farmers in China each year?

And hands up who knows what the function of the Dairymaster Moo Monitor is? Well, if you want to know, you will have to attend the Panel Discussion on October 22nd at 6pm.

I first came across this firm at an Engineers Ireland regional meeting in Tralee IT, some 2 years ago and have since marvelled ever since at their achievements. It was no surprise to me when Dr. Edmond Harty won the 2012 E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year.

The four speakers represent the biomedical, transport, electrical and agri-food engineering industries respectively. Our manufacturing output grew in early 2013 and already represents about a quarter of our GDP, according to the World Bank. Most of the markets for our products are international to the BRIC developing countries especially China and to Europe also.

Dr. Edmond Harty, Dairymaster
Philip O'Doherty, E&I Engineering
Ian Quinn, Creganna Tactx Medical

Martin McVicar, Combilift
All of our four speakers are leading global players in their niche areas and have been assisted in their development by Enterprise Ireland. Two of our speakers are winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Martin McVicar and Edmond Harty. Ian Quinn is Ireland's leading indigenous manufacturer of biomedical products employing some 800 people and Philip O'Doherty employs some 675 people making electrical products on Malin Head Co Donegal.

As I've stated in many other fora, engineering graduates of UCD and other colleges are leading the national economic recovery in manufacturing exports - both indigenous and FDI companies. To grow our way out of recession we need more of both type companies producing products and services out of Ireland.

The foundation of a successful manufacturing nation is our educational system. We need to build more of an entrepreneurial class of innovators who can challenge leading national and international brands in the same way as Coca Cola, VW, Siemens and others who have become household names. In this regard the German model of industrial training needs serious appraisal and adoption in Ireland.

Richness in education and economic planning leads to Innovation, Enterprise and Jobs. I'm delighted to see that the Department of Finance under Secretary General John Moran, is leading a new generation of national economic planning similar to the early exercises 50 years ago. That exercise together with the necessary structural reforms in education and training will see us ready as a nation to adopt innovative and competitive methods of manufacture as the Irish economy recovers to steady growth and employment levels.

This promises to be an interesting and exciting evening in over 2 weeks time. All are welcome regardless of profession or occupational status as job creation in Ireland must be a shared experience of all our people.

Medical Stent

Thursday, 19 September 2013

UCD launches new Energy Institute with Taoiseach

The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has formally launched a new UCD Energy Institute which will bring together energy researchers from industry and academia.The UCD Energy Institute has received donor funding of €5 million and further seed capital funding from industry.

UCD President Dr. Hugh Brady, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny & Dr. David O'Rielly, Chair, UCD Energy Advisory Board

The Institute will focus its research on Energy Systems Integration which provides the basis for improved energy performance, reduced cost and minimises environmental impact – a challenge across the world.

The Institute is developing a major national initiative Future Grid Test Bed – Ireland in collaboration with EirGrid and the ESB. This activity feeds into a further collaboration with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Danish Technical University (DTU) in the area of Energy Systems Integration. The integration of renewable energy to electricity grids is a strategically important research area for Ireland given its wealth of renewable energy resources and Ireland’s electricity grid is uniquely positioned to be utilised as an international location for testing new technologies.

The new Institute will host over 200 world class energy researchers working in partnership with industry and the energy policy community and builds on prior research investments by Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Irish Research Council, the EU and importantly, industry in this area.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD said, "We are at an exciting juncture in energy research. With the right ideas, talent and support, the next decade has the potential to be transformative in how Ireland produces, uses and transmits energy. UCD’s new Energy Institute will prove an invaluable resource in solving our energy challenges and realising new opportunities. This initiative clearly demonstrates the ability of our public institutions to work together and with other stakeholders in pursuit of common goals and scientific excellence. The Government will continue to support investment in science, technology and innovation through our Action Plan for Jobs."

Dr Hugh Brady, President, UCD said, “Energy research is a strategic priority for UCD and establishing the UCD Energy Institute reflects of our ongoing commitment to this important area. It will supply a critical mass of world class researcher’s multidisciplinary engineers and scientists trying to bring that research and working collaboration with the industry to ensure that Ireland will absorb the new technologies. This is a highly competitive field internationally and we are proud of our research leaders who have built a strong reputation for research excellence on the world stage that can now realise benefits for Ireland.”

The UCD Energy Institute will be led by Professor Mark O’Malley, UCD School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering as Scientific Director and Paddy Teahon as Executive Director.

UCD students Shaun Sweeney, Lucy Van Djik, Meadbh Ní Chéirigh with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny at the launch of UCD Energy Institute
 The Strategy for the Institute was developed by the UCD Energy Advisory Board led by Dr. David O’Reilly, UCD graduate and former CEO of Chevron. It builds on the reputation of UCD as a leading centre for energy research, in particular UCD’s Electricity Research Centre supported by leading energy companies and its Petroleum Geosciences research supported by Tullow Oil and other oil industry companies and groups.

Dr. David O’Reilly, Chair, UCD Energy Advisory Board, added, “I am delighted that the Institute is now up and running. I am confident that it will attract high calibre researchers who will help propel Ireland to a leadership position in energy research.”

Jerry O’Sullivan, Managing Director ESB Networks Ltd said, “ESB is delighted to be involved with the new UCD Energy Institute which we know will transform energy research here in Ireland and internationally. As a leading destination for energy researchers the Institute will capitalise on UCD’s academic expertise across Engineering, Science, Business, Law, Economics and Behavioural Sciences. ESB is committed to the development of Smart Electricity Networks which will implement Smart Grid initiatives and enable the development of renewable technologies capable of making a substantial contribution to transforming and decarbonising the energy industry. We are delighted to be involved in a number of research projects which will enable this to happen and to position Ireland as a leader in the energy field.”

Michael Walsh, EirGrid’s Executive Director for Corporate Affairs, Planning and Strategy said, “EirGrid shares UCD's strong commitment to ensuring that Ireland plays a leading role in the world of energy research. Already Ireland and Northern Ireland’s power system has higher levels of instantaneous wind penetration than any other synchronous system in the world. This creates a unique opportunity to develop new world leading technologies and UCD's Energy Institute will play a crucial role in delivering the cutting edge research to support this.”

He added, “EirGrid is committed to working with all our partners including the UCD Energy Institute to deliver a Smart Grid that will continue to providing secure, sustainable and competitive power for consumers and making sure that the island of Ireland is well placed to attract high-technology employment.”

Friday, 6 September 2013

Joy for Students and Parents at Annual Gold Medal Ceremony

This week we had the UCD BE Conferrings in O'Reilly Hall. Prior to the Conferrings, the EGA and our sister organisation, the Architecture Graduates Association (AGA) hosted the Annual Gold Medal Ceremony for those who obtained 1st place in each of the branches of Engineering and Architecture.

The 7 Engineering Gold Medals were awarded to Claire Dunne, Ian Kenny, Eoghan Power, Conor O'Malley, Raymond Carley, Robert O'Donoghue and Brian Kealy in Biosystems, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Electronic, Mechanical and Structural Engineering with Architecture respectively. These Gold Medals were sponsored by GEA, Helsinn, RPS, Airtricity, S3, CRH and ARUP respectively. ARUP also sponsored the EGA Architecture Gold Medal awarded to Andras Dankhazi. All were present to accept the Medals except Brian Kealy who is currently working in the US and was represented by his parents at our event.

(L–R) UCD Dean of Engineering Prof. Gerry Byrne, Ian Kenny (Chem), Robert O'Donoghue (Mech), Andras Dankhazi (Arch), Claire Dunne (Biosystems), Raymond Carley (Electronic), Eoghan Power (Civil), Conor O'Malley (Electrical), EGA President PJ Rudden.

In addition, there were a number of additional Prizes awarded for Civil, Chemical & Bioprocess, Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering sponsored by Roughan O'Donovan, Pat McAdam, PM Group, Mark Carthy, Cylon and Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Rep of Ireland Branch). Prize winners here were Eoghan Power, Sharon Quigley, Aisling Brazel, Sheila Courtney, Donal Finegan, Killian McKenna, Adrian Walsh, Claire Lambe, Philip Flahavan, Fionnan McNamara and Robert O'Donoghue.

In my Welcome Speech, I emphasised the importance of engineering to everyday life in terms of energy, water, transport and communications. That 'engineering genius' is not celebrated in Ireland as much as literary genius as it is not as well known. That is not surprising given our national reputation for winning Nobel Prizes in Literature by Yeats, Beckett and Heaney.

On the day of the prize giving, the funeral of the late and great poet Seamus Heaney who died suddenly at age 74 from a short illness was taking place a few hundred metres further up the Stillorgan Road at Donnybrook Church. Later that day he was buried in his native Derry. His poetic talent was legendary across the English speaking world as he was a very sensitive yet very graphic communicator with his imagery. Engineers need to be graphic also in our use of the English language and other communications tools to show our relevance in society.

Seamus Heaney
As a profession we need to celebrate our engineering skills on a wider stage where it is not realised that it is engineers who are driving our national recovery in terms of the manufacture and export of biopharma, ICT, biomedical and other engineering products.

From the moment we waken each day to the moment when we fall asleep engineers have created the products and services we use from electricity to clean water to safe roads, rail and airports to buildings where we work and go to school, to the cars we drive, the Internet, iPods and iPhones we use to stay in touch.

In job creation announcements we are told that new jobs are being created in 'Life Sciences' when in fact they are jobs in engineering and that is where many of the future jobs in a growing Irish economy lie - career guidance teachers, parents and Leaving Cert students need to be aware that it is an Engineering Degree that will lead them into these exciting new careers that will nurture, support and save human lives. I visited the fabulous new UCD Science Centre last year and found that many of the researchers working there were engineers as well as scientists.

Edwina White, Airtricity presenting the EGA Gold Medal in Electrical Engineering to Conor O'Malley

Arthur Rogers, GEA Tuchenhagen presenting the EGA Gold Medal in Biosystems Engineering to Claire Dunne

Eimear O'Flynn, CRH presenting the EGA Gold Medal in Mechanical Engineering to Robert O'Donoghue

Eileen Lee, Project Management Group presenting the PM Group Design Award to Shelia Courtney

Padraig Somers of Helsinn Birex Pharmaceuticals presenting the EGA Gold Medal in Chemical Engineering to Ian Kenny

Mike Murray of S3 presenting the EGA Gold Medal in Electronic Engineering to Raymond Carley

Larry O'Toole, RPS presenting the EGA Gold Medal in Civil Engineering to Eoghan Power

Rory Mc Gowan, ARUP presenting the EGA Gold Medal in Structural Engineering with Architecture to father of Brian Kealy

Tony Dempsey, Roughan O'Donovan presenting their prize to Sharon Quigley

Professor Don Mac Elroy presenting the Pat Mc Adam Scholarship in Chemical Engineering to Aisling Brazel

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Engineers Picnic a Great Success

The Engineers Picnic has been judged a great success by the large crowd who attended. The weather was not as 'fantastic' as forecast earlier in the week but it settled into a lovely evening in the Rose Garden after the initial drops of rain at the start.

People enjoying the Picnic!
We are very grateful to our Sponsors Eircom Networks, ESB and Eirgrid for their support and to our superb Picnic Committee of Karina O'Neill, Angela Treanor, Robyn Kelly and Tony O'Brien for their very hard work and dedication to see it through to such an acknowledged success. Thanks to UCD for the use of the fabulous Rose Garden - a little known amenity on the Belfield Campus beside Belfield House now known as the Clinton Institute.

Karina O'Neill & Robyn Kelly

The quality of the BBQ by With Taste Catering was excellent and the music by TradSoc in the Rose Garden and JazzSoc in the Clinton Auditorium played tastefully in the background. We are indebted to the Class of 1988 who came in large numbers including members from both UK and the US.

JazzSoc playing at the picnic

TradSoc playing at the picnic
Some friends from the Class of 1988

We are also indebted to the Energy Needs Ireland (ENI) students of Electrical Engineering led by Professor Mark O'Malley who had a superb multifaceted exhibition expertly manned in turn by most of their 21 enthusiastic members.

PJ Rudden, Mark O'Malley and ENI Students

These are highly talented 21 undergraduate students from universities throughout Ireland who are spending the Summer of 2013 working on the technical, business and social aspects of projects that are related to the "Smart Grid". The group will make unbiased findings on their views of the future for these projects.

The group includes mostly electrical/electronic engineering students but also students of theoretical physics, earth sciences, commerce, mechanical engineering, chemistry drawn from UCD, UCC, TCD, UL and QUB. It’s great to see this interdisciplinary approach with engineers not just talking and conferring with themselves but interactive and drawing expertise from other professional disciplines. This is how 'big picture' problems get solved in today's world and ENI is an excellent formative model for the students involved. 

ENI Students examining Energy Policies

A number of people who attended the Picnic were greatly taken by the ENI exhibition and students particularly by the enthusiasm with which they displayed their research, their ability to communicate and their thirst for knowledge and innovation. I too was bowled over by their individual and collective performance. Their practical demonstration as to how a Smart Meter works to save energy in the home is a good example that these students know who their real audience must be - John and Mary Citizen! - and how best to communicate this message.  I regard the ENI Exhibition as the highlight of the 2013 Engineers Picnic.

The ENI project is conducted with the financial support of Science Foundation Ireland and the Electricity Research Centre (ERC) in University College Dublin in collaboration with the Smart Grid Innovation Hub. ENI was set up by the ERC in 2007 and has operated every second year with growing success from an initial handful of students to 21 motivated young people from across Ireland in 2013.

Back to the Picnic itself! There was an excellent cross section of generations and ages there as the photographs clearly show and a lot of 'third generation' families not seen previously at an EGA event or indeed in UCD. 

Mother with future engineer???

'I'm really enjoying this picnic!'
Maria Blair, Gerry Byrne, Anne Morrissey, Seamus McCague, Anne-Marie McCague, PJ Rudden & Domhnall Blair

The event was briefly and dramatically interrupted by the landing of a giant cardinal red Sikorsky helicopter from the Irish Coastguard Search and Rescue Team bringing a man on a stretcher from where he was rescued on a Wicklow mountainside to a waiting ambulance on the UCD athletics track beside the Rose Garden.

When asked what was happening I was tempted to tell people that 'Its Pope Francis coming to the Picnic as he's a Chemical Engineer'! 'Habemus Papem' in our profession as our eminent EGA Founder Emeritus Professor John Kelly recently put it so well in the Engineers Journal!

Everyone who attended got a copy of the new Engineers Newsletter July 2013 to bring home - also a notice on the forthcoming EGA Panel Discussion on 'Engineering Manufacturing and Job Creation in Ireland' which will be opened by Taoiseach Enda Kenny at 6pm on October 22nd next.

Liam Connellan & Friends
UCD Engineering Graduates

Mc Carthy's, O'Brien's & PJ Rudden outside the Clinton Institute