Friday, 17 June 2016

Highlight of the Year Annual Awards Dinner

Our Annual Awards Dinner was very successful this year on June 13th last - heightened by the mystery of who the award winners were.

On the night of June 13th in the National Concert Hall all was revealed - we were awarding the 2016 EGA Distinguished Graduate Award to EPA Director General Laura Burke one of the youngest UCD graduates to win this award. In fact Laura was the first EGA Distinguished Graduate to come from the engineers who qualified in the 90s.
Pictured at National Concert Hall is UCD EGA President PJ Rudden, EPA Director General Laura Burke and UCD Principal College of Engineering & Architecture and Dean of Engineering, Professor David FitzPatrick
Laura qualified as a Chemical Engineer in 1992. She subsequently worked in industry before joining the EPA in 2004 as one of four Directors. She firstly was Director for Corporate Affairs and then for Climate Change and Licensing before becoming Director General in 2011. Copy of the Press Release announcing her award is shown hereLaura was presented with her award in advance as she was unavoidably abroad on the week of the Awards.

At the Annual Dinner therefore attention focussed on the President's Award to Dr Tom Hardiman a mechanical and electrical engineer who qualified in 1952 from UCD.  Tom joined Dept. of Post and Telegraphs and then joined RTE as Head of Outside Broadcasting in the early 1960s. He then rose quickly to Director of Engineering before appointment as Director General in 1968.
Dr. Tom Hardiman describes some of the challenges he faced and overcame as RTE Director General
He served in this role for his full term of 7 years during what must have one of the most challenging periods for Irish Broadcasting. The Troubles erupted in Northern Ireland in 1968 though Tom tells me they were brewing from the mid 60s. There was a Government prohibition on allowing interviews with proscribed organisations in the South. Much tension between Government and RTE resulted in the RTE Authority being fired but the Director General survived. We had the Arms Trial, the suspension of Stormont, introduction of Internment and Ireland joining the EEC as it was called then - all in Tom's tenure as Director General. The three Ministers he served under were the late Erskine Childers, Gerry Collins and the late Conor Cruise O'Brien. The experience he gained in RTE subsequently led to an extraordinary career which he still carries lightly in his 87th year.
EGA President PJ Rudden presents Presidents' Award to Dr.Tom Hardiman
(Photos of Tom as RTE Director General in the background)
When Tom's 7 year term expired he went into the private sector world of science, industry, commerce, banking and international relations. He was first Chairman of the National Board of Science and Technology (pre-runner of Forfas and Science Foundation Ireland). He was President of Confederation of Irish Industry (now IBEC) and President of Dublin Chamber of Commence as well as chairing the Government Commission into Higher Education which directly led to the setting up of DCU and UL the first new universities in the Irish State. He was subsequently Chancellor of DCU for three years.
Former Dean of Engineering and EGA Founder, Professor John Kelly
with EGA First President Dr. Tom Hardiman
He was conferred with two honorary doctorates by NUI and by Lynn University Florida. He was admitted to the Royal Irish Academy in 1990 and many other singular awards like the Order of the Rising Son Gold Star from the Emperor of Japan which he proudly wore on the night.

The main reason he was the first recipient of the EGA President's Award is because of his extraordinary career spanning over 50 years and that he was chosen as the first EGA President in 1983 when the UCD Engineering Graduates Association was set up by then Dean of Engineering Professor John Kelly. We also had John present last Monday night so I asked him why Tom was chosen. He replied that 'Tom was head and shoulders over any other candidate at the time' such was the esteem in which he was held nationally.

You can read the press release on Tom's President's Award here.

We had a large attendance on the night in the National Concert Hall led by the President of Engineers Ireland Dermot Byrne and many of his Directors. Thanks to Director General Caroline Spillane for arranging this.
Group of Attendees from Engineers Ireland led by President Dermot Byrne and from Coillte led by
Strategy Director Padraig O'Donoghue with EGA President PJ Rudden
We were also most grateful to the organisations who sponsored tables Coillte, Energia, Engineers Ireland, ESB, RPS and UCD and to all our Corporate Members who help support our activities.

EGA Board Member Cormac Mannion with Group of Energia staff

Úna Fitzgerald, Louise Connolly and Cormac Bradley of RPS Group
 The UCD contingent was led by Professor David Fitzpatrick Principal of the College of Engineering and Architecture and included Professors David Timoney, Tom Brazil, Colm O'Donnell, EGA Hon Sec Dr Vincent  Hargaden and EGA Head of Social Media, Killian McKenna.  It was also great to have Rebecca Patterson UCD College of Engineering Marketing and Engagement Manager and Katie O'Neill Marketing Manager there on the night. Sincere thanks for the organisation of the evening must go to Clare Ryan the very efficient EGA Administrator apart from her other college duties. Our thanks also to the staff at the National Concert Hall.
UCD College of Engineering Group with EGA President
Back L to R: Prof David Timoney, Prof Colm O'Donnell, PJ Rudden, Prof David Fitzpatrick
Front L to R: Killian McKenna, Prof Tom Brazil, Clare Ryan, Katie O'Neill and Rebecca Patterson

We were also delighted to have former UCD Deans of Engineering present on the night Professor Gerry Byrne, Professor David Timoney and Professor Emeritus John Kelly former UCD Registrar and EGA Founder.
Former Dean Of Engineering Professor Gerry Byrne and Former President of
Irish Academy of Engineering Michael Hayden
The greatest tribute that I can pay to Tom Hardiman is to remark on the extent of the feedback from the younger generation of attendees on the night all of whom would not have been born when Tom led RTE. Many of them remarked to me the personal privilege they felt on meeting him in person and his great humility despite his stellar career. Tom in turn told me that he was delighted to meet them and to give them good advice to be courageous in their careers.
Some of the attendance at 2016 EGA Awards Dinner in National Concert Hall
He was obviously the same icon of engineering and public service in 2016 as he was in 1968 when chosen as RTE Director General and in 1983 as first EGA President.
Professor David Fitzpatrick UCD Dean of Engineering and Principal College of Engineering and Architecture
and Rebecca Patterson Marketing and Engagement Manager UCD College of Engineering and Architecture


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