Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Merry Christmas one and all

I wish all Corporate and Individual Members of the UCD EGA a Happy and Restful Christmas and a Rewarding 2016.


This is my last Christmas Message as EGA President so I want to thank You our members and our hard working Board a big thank you to you all. You helped us to build the EGA into the resilient force it now is in UCD and assisting economic recovery in the country at large. UCD is Ireland's largest university and the EGA is UCD's largest and most active alumni group. I’m hoping that together we can make 2016 another exciting year for the EGA and raise our profile further as an organisation that debates the issues that concern us all.

2015 has been a momentous year. We had some of the brightest days and some of the darkest nights. Bright days saw us hosting our UCD President, Professor Andrew J. Deeks for our Spring Lecture, award of the Distinguished Graduate Award to Vice President Professor Orla Feely and the Autumn Panel Discussion on our Digital Future with market leaders.

Our darkest night was surely on Bloomsday June 16th when six Irish students including three from UCD were taken from us in the tragic Berkeley apartment balcony collapse and the multiple injuries of many more students all starting on a working holiday in Berkeley California.

Ireland had many highlights in 2105 from the courageous Same Sex Marriage Referendum to the Fresh Start Agreement in Northern Ireland and our second Six Nations Rugby Championship victory in a row.  Internationally, we had a migrant crisis arising from war in Syria and the COP 21 agreement in Paris on Climate Change.

In 2015 UCD held its national placing in the global league table of Universities though slipping slightly together with Trinity both I am sure the victim of third level education cuts during the austerity years.

The EGA increased its Corporate Membership by over 30% and hosted the best ever attended Spring Lecture and Autumn Panel Discussion on Engineering Education and the Digital Future respectively.

The highlight of the year for me and many others was the 'coming home' recognition finally of the University Industry Centre (UIC) founded by Professor John Kelly. The 30th anniversary of the UIC foundation was marked by unveiling of a plaque by President Professor Andrew J Deeks in NovaUCD and in the UIC. This facility built in the mid 1980s is now firmly recognised as the research forerunner of NovaUCD and a future resource facility of great value.

We had our first ever Corporate Members Reception hosted by President Deeks and continued our efforts to encourage greater Gender Balance in Engineering Education and in the Profession. UCD 1st Engineering had an encouraging intake of 27% female this year and we need to build on this success in the years ahead.




Thursday, 10 December 2015

AGM Reflects on Successful Year

Our recent AGM saw 2015 was a year of consolidation for UCD EGA. Most of the objectives in the EGA Strategy 2013 - 2016 had been achieved or under way so we spent 2015 building on the progress made particularly on profile building and as a consequence a value added proposition for Corporate Membership.

The Strategy objectives were to assist UCD in the mission of excellence as Ireland's global university. To do this we had to raise the profile of UCD Engineering through our graduates and act as a host to discuss critical issues affecting the Irish economy i.e. Jobs, Economic Recovery, Water, Food, Energy and Engineering Education. By having these events led by national and international leaders in their respective fields, we raised the EGA and indirectly the UCD profile as thought leaders in these important subjects.

As we look back on a busy and successful year, we recall a number of memorable events - the Annual Spring Lecture by UCD President Andrew Deeks on Engineering Education, the Autumn Panel Discussion on Ireland's Digital Future fronted by leading industry figures. At out Annual Dinner we presented the EGA Distinguished Graduate Award to UCD Vice President Orla Feely and a Lifetime Achievement Award to EGA Founder Professor John Kelly.

We also had further significant growth by 35% in Corporate Membership no doubt helped by our increased public profile. President Deeks also kindly hosted a Reception for EGA Corporate Members in Ardmore House on campus.

Group photo at NovaUCD (from L to R back row):
Prof. David Fitzpatrick, Prof. John Kelly, Prof. Orla Feely, Prof. Andrew Deeks, PJ Rudden, Dr. Liam Connellan,
Dr. Vincent Hargaden,
(from L to R front row): Sean Murphy, Clodagh O'Donnell, Dr Pat Frain, Dr John Bourke, Dr Tom Hardiman, Eoin O'Cathain

We celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of NovaUCD research and incubation centre in the University Industry Centre (UIC). This building was funded and built by UCD EGA founded by then Dean of Engineering Professor John Kelly to create an important link between the university and industry. From early seeds then, NovaUCD went from strength to strength transferring to its current campus on Fosters Avenue from where it is facilitating very significant research and innovation success in terms of funding and job creation for the Irish Economy. Only last month one of the companies there Logentries was sold to a US firm for $68.

First EGA Secretary Clodagh O'Donnell and EGA Founder
Professor John Kelly at EGA Annual Dinner in National Concert Hall

The EGA support for the new 3+2 Masters Programme was recognised in two very tangible ways -transfer of the EGA Gold Medals from the BE to the ME programmes and secondly an intensification of Mock Interviews for students applying for internships on the Masters programmes. The EGA are indebted to the UCD Careers Office under Acting Deputy Director Dr Aisling Harkin for the professional assistance with these interviews.

EGA Graduate Board Members Louise McGuinness and
Killian McKenna at Annual Lecture by President Deeks

The year was also marked with sadness after the Berkeley UCD and other students tragically lost their lives in June while in the U.S. working for the  summer on J1 visas. This evoked the nation's grief as they were brought home to be buried in Ireland. Tributes were led by UCD President Deeks who recalled that they died on Bloomsday  and quoting from James Joyce's Finegan's Wake that they 'had lived and laughed and loved and left ..... we will not forget them'.

The AGM elected new Board Member Harriet Walsh an ME graduate in Energy Systems who currently is Transmission Access Planning Engineer in Eirgrid. We also reelected the current Hon Treasurer Donal Wyse who is Airworthiness Officer with the Irish Aviation Authority for a further 3 years.
New EGA Board Member, Harriet Walsh
We recorded with regret the recent resignations of Robyn Kelly and Louise McGuinness both of whom stepped down from the Board for business reasons. We sincerely thank both of them for their contribution to Board activities over the past number of years. Both were active on various EGA Subcommittees.

We heard reports on the work of two existing Subcommittees - from Michael Loughnane who leads the Gender Balance group and Aisling Harkin who leads the Corporate Membership group. A new Social Media Subcommittee was set up under Chairman Killian McKenna assisted by Katie O 'Neill and Harriet Walsh.

I conclude this yearly review by recapping with photographs on the success of our Annual Spring Lecture on Engineering in the 21st Century and our Annual Autumn Panel Discussion on Ireland's Digital Future.
UCD President Professor Andrew Deeks at EGA Corporate Member
Reception in Ardmore House prior to Annual Lecture.

At Annual Spring Lecture by UCD Professor Andrew Deeks Engineers Ireland Vice President Kieran Feighan,
Engineers Ireland Finance Committee Chairman Murt Coleman, Engineers Ireland Council and Executive
Board Member Cormac Bradley, UCD Engineering Vice Principal Teaching and Learning Dr Amanda Gibney and PJ Rudden
And our Annual Panel Discussion

At the Autumn Panel Discussion were EGA President PJ Rudden, CEO Vodafone Anne O'Leary,
Vice President Google EMEA Ronan Harris  & UCD Vice President Professor Orla Feely.

Q&A at Autumn Panel Discussion CEO Vodafone Anne O'Leary
and CEO Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Dr Brain Motherway

Autumn Panel Discussion Q&A: Dr Helen McBreen, Dr Eleni Pratsini,
Ronan Harris, Anne O'Leary, Dr Brian Motherway and P.J. Rudden