Friday, 13 February 2015

2015 Annual Spring Lecture by UCD President Professor Andrew Deeks

UCD EGA have a busy programme for the coming year including Annual Spring Lecture by UCD President Andrew Deeks on Engineering Education in mid May and presentation of the 2015 Distinguished Graduate Award at our Annual Dinner at the end of May.

Prof. Andrew Deeks
We start our Programme on Saturday February 21st with Mock Interviews for final year BE and ME undergrads preparing for internship and job interviews.   Arrangements for these interviews this year have been made by Dr. Aoife Collins College Internship Manager and Katie O'Neill College Marketing Manager.  UCD Careers and Skills Consultant Dr. Aisling Harkin will also take a leading role in conducting these interviews.

We will have our Annual Past Presidents' Dinner on March 26th next when we discuss past, current and future EGA happenings and the Past Presidents usually make very constructive suggestions for future events. The Autumn Panel Discussion 2013 on Manufacturing which was led by the Taoiseach derived out of these discussions two years ago also the need for EGA to better communicate with Members through a new Newsletter and indeed this blog.

Enda Kenny
The highlight of this year's events with be the Annual Spring Lecture by UCD President Professor Andrew Deeks on "Challenges for Engineering Education in the 21st Century". This will be held on Wednesday 13th May at 7.00pm  in the Sutherland School of Law, UCD. This should be very entertaining as while Andrew is or was a civil engineer he is now very much an educationalist.

Judging by his inaugural address he is following in the footsteps of UCD founding rector John Henry Newman's 'Idea of a University'.

'Newman’s  spirited defence of the value of a liberal education continue to have impact today and indeed have shaped the development of UCD and influenced the development of university education worldwide. I want to follow in Newman's footsteps in another way, by reflecting on the idea of a global university'.

John Henry Newman

Idea of a University
“A man may hear a thousand lectures, and read a thousand volumes, and be at the end of the process very much where he was, as regards knowledge.  It must not be passively received, but actually and actively entered into, embraces, mastered.  The mind must go half-way to meet what comes to it from without.”

“The interlinking of different societies and viewpoints clearly promotes societal advance, and a society isolated from alternative viewpoints and ways of doing things will stagnate.  Within these interconnected societies, we see that advance is through a series of incremental steps, each building on the next, with the next technical step becoming inevitable at certain points in time and then a number of individuals independently making the step” he said.

As he expressed his view on the importance of a comprehensive, research-intensive university, Professor Deeks noted that the same utilitarian arguments  which confronted Newman in his day are still put forward today.

“These utilitarian arguments say that universities should prioritise the preparation of students for careers which are seen to be in demand, and to concentrate on developing practical skills. Like Newman, I reply that we are preparing out students to take their place in society and to contribute to the flourishing of that society, both national and international.”

“In Newman’s ‘The Idea of a University’ he argues for a liberal education which develops in the  mind the ability to, through a process of looking at things from a variety of viewpoints, come to full illumination or understanding of the subject matter.  He also sees university as developing a range of generic skills in communication, teamship and leadership that we would recognise today.  He stops short suggesting that everyone should be educated in a liberal way, but suggests that as long as a university has a range of scholars in a variety of subjects, and that they converse and debate matters of interest together, that the end goal of the university would still be reached.”
“These days we see exposure to and participation in research as being a vital part of the process of training the mind of which Newman was so passionate about, and a primary goal of the university.”

But Professor Deeks added, universities need to be global in their being in order to meet the needs of students and of society.

“To prepare our students to flourish in this interconnected global society, we need to be a global university.  We must be engaged nationally and around the world.  Different points of view do not only come from within the university, but also from outside,  We must also promote international mobility of staff and students, joint research and teaching programmes with universities around the world, and mutually beneficial strategic holistic partnerships.”

We will have our Annual Dinner in the National Concert Hall on Thursday May 28th at 6.00pm where will present the 2015 Distinguished Graduate Award.  Last year this was won by Patrick Joy of Suretank.

(L to R): PJ Rudden, Mrs Joy, Patrick Joy, Prof. Gerry Byrne
On August 31st next, we will have presentation of the EGA Gold Medals for the best results in ME degree in each engineering discipline.