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.
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|
'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|
|An Taoiseach Enda Kenny listens intently to Ian Quinn|
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|