Friday, 25 May 2012

Annual General Meeting and Goodbye

This is my last blog following the 2012 Engineers Ireland AGM. Last night I was pleased and indeed proud to pass the President's chain of office to Michael Phillips Dublin City Engineer as our new President.

It's been a great year to be part of Engineers Ireland and to work with the great people there - John Director General and Directors Fionnuala, Margie, Aiden, John and John and their lovely staff who do us proud on a daily basis.

I wish Michael every success during the coming year supported by Vice Presidents Dr John O'Dea CEO Crospon and Regina Moran CEO Fujitsu. In his Inaugural Address last night he set the tone for a year of positive engagement with the members at home and especially abroad who may come home someday. He also exemplified the spirit of public service towards society that he and others in the local authority and public sector strive to deliver to us all on a 24/7 basis.

To all the readers and followers of this blog a heartfelt thank you for coming on this special 'journey of discovery' with me during the past 12 months.

Goodbye and may your God go with you!

To read the full blog in pdf format click here: A Year the Life by PJ Rudden (President of Engineers Ireland 2011-2012).pdf

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Exploring the Burren in North Clare

I spent a few days holidays hiking around the Burren just prior to the Engineers Ireland AGM on May 24th. I had never been there before and found it a terrific natural heritage resource with huge tourism potential.

PJ Rudden outside Aillwee Cave entrance

This resource is also managed sensitively by the public bodies and all of the stakeholders involved. This is because they understand its heritage value and the degree to which a sustainable tourism product can co-exist to suit local people and the unique heritage in their midst.

PJ Rudden at Poulnabrone Dolmen
on Burren Landscape

The Aillwee Caves are the result of water erosion of weak limestone rock and is now one of the main tourist resorts as is also the Poulnabrone Dolmen both of which were attracting busloads of foreign tourists even in the month of May. In fact Aillwee Caves was only discovered in the 1940s by a local farmer who lost his dog into a hole in the ground chasing a rabbit. The farmer went looking for his dog through the opening in the ground and some hours later managed to find not only the dog but the natural heritage feature which is now known as the Aillwee Caves. This story was told by Lorraine Shannon one of the local guides who is an archaeologist.

Lorraine Shannon local archaeologist and guide
and PJ Rudden in Aillwee Caves

Both the cave and the dolmen are beautifully illustrated on signs together with many hundreds of other interesting features. There is little doubt that the Burren in North Clare will probably become Ireland’s 3rd World Heritage Site after Skellig Michael and Brú na Bóinne.

Flora at the Burren

The limestone landscape is interspersed with a wide range of flora which are in abundance at this time of year. All in all a lovely way to spend my last few days as President.

Annual Conferring of Titles

Over the past few weeks I had a busy round of Conferrings of Titles around the Regions and finally in the Helix DCU last Friday. These Conferrings were to the Titles of Fellow, Chartered Engineer, Associate Engineer and Technician Engineer. Travelling with me in each case was Shirley McDonald our Membership Growth Manager who organised the events together with the local Region Chairmen.

PJ Rudden President Engineers Ireland, Shirley McDonald Membership Growth Manager
and Professor Padraic O'Donoghue Chairman of the West Region

In March I had the first Conferring of Titles in the North West Region in Sligo. Then in April we had the same ceremony in the Cork Region. In May, we commenced in Limerick with the Thomond Region on May 1st followed by the West Region in Galway on May 9th and the Midland Region on May 14th. The National Conferring for the East coast and other regions were then held in the Helix DCU in Dublin on May 18th. I was delighted to see the family event that these conferrings have become where increasingly partners and children attend.

The National event included the annual award of Fellowships by Presidential Invitation. These were awarded for outstanding achievement in building national infrastructure, research leading to job creation, balanced regional development in addition to long service to Engineers Ireland. The seven recipients this year were Gerry Campbell of Shell, Andrew Cooke of EirGrid, Orla Feely of UCD, David Kirwan of Bord Gáis, Michael Loftus of CIT, Liam Madden of Xilinx and John Quinn of the North East Region.

President presents Fellowship of Engineers Ireland to Gerry Campbell
Project Director of Shell E&P Ireland Ltd

President presents Fellowship of Engineers Ireland to David Kirwan
Managing Director of Bord Gáis Energy

The event in each region also coincided with the AGM where the new Chairman and Committee for each Region were elected. I therefore witnessed the 'changing of the guard' in each region. In the Thomond Region the Chairmanship passed from Kieran Horgan (Consultant Engineer ex ESB) to Peter Tiernan (UL), in the West Region from Padraic O'Donoghue (NUIG) to Christy O'Sullivan (RPS) and in the Midlands Region from John Jordan (Wirtgen Ireland Ltd) to Damien Grennan (Offaly County Council).

President welcomes the new Thomond Region Chairman
Peter Tiernan of University of Limerick

President welcomes new West Region Chairman Christy O’Sullivan of RPS Group

At each regional event, I was also pleased to present my Presidential Address which I originally gave in Clyde Road last September. The substance of the address had not changed but I updated it to give it greater relevance to each of the regions themselves in terms of my particular visits to that region during the years.

Eoin Greaney of Pavement Management Services being presented with Chartered Engineer title 
 in Galway by President PJ Rudden and Chairman of the West Region Padraic O'Donoghue
- Eoin is joined by his wife and 3 children
In Tullamore President and Midlands Chairman presents Chartered Engineer title
to Linda Parkinson of Laois County Council
I was able to strengthen the address also in terms where Government had heeded what I had said in September and had made policy changes in the meantime. This was obvious to me in two important policy areas.

1. I had called for the re-initiation of long term economic planning as we had in the early 1960s in time of TK Whitaker and other national greats who led us forward.

Only in recent weeks the new Secretary General in Dept of Finance John Moran  announced that a new economic unit was being set up to better plan not only our economic recovery but to look beyond that phase of national development in the future. John Moran had recently been recruited into the public service from the private sector where among other things he ran a series of juice bars in the South of France. He was thus bringing lateral thinking and a welcome business acumen to the work of Government. He also represents a shift from the past less regulated thinking that practically brought the country to its knees. Well done to Minister Noonan who appointed him and to Minister Howlin who appointed a man of similar background and calibre in Robert Watt as Secretary General in the new Dept of Public Expenditure and Reform.

2. In Education I called for a new 'joined up thinking' between primary and secondary education in all subjects but particularly in Maths teaching and learning.

The new Junior Cycle reform agenda being planned by Minister Quinn includes for reconfiguring that transition between 5th and 6th class in Primary school and 1st year in Secondary school. Previously as we pointed out in our 2010 Maths and Science Report there is no 'end of school assessment or report card' at the end of Primary to give any guidance  to the secondary teachers on their new pupils which I found to be odd in the extreme and not resource efficient in terms of teaching and learning. Happily the new Junior Cycle curriculum 'Innovation and Identity' recognises this failing and seeks to correct it. Increasingly it is becoming obvious that it is at Junior Cycle that most of the issue with Maths learning exists as the unqualified Maths teachers are usually sent into this cycle and those better qualified sent into the Leaving Cert classes. The sooner the better this whole Maths situation gets rectified as it will take at least a generation for the new learning processes to embed.

Visit to Limerick IT

Limerick Institute of Technology is in fact in Cratloe in County Clare north of the new Limerick Tunnel. I discovered this on a recent visit to the college organised by Thomond Region Committee Member Maria Kyne who is Head of School Built Environment.

Left to right – Seamus O’Sullivan (Lecturer), James Collins (Head of Department Built Environment Management), Paschal Meehan (Head of School Science, Engineering and IT), PJ Rudden President of Engineers Ireland, Maria Kyne (Head of School Built Environment), Pat Gill (Head of Department Construction and Civil Engineering), James Greenslade (Acting Head of Department Electrical and Electronic Engineering).

I met Maria and her colleague Paschal Meehan Head of School Science, Engineering and IT who kindly gave me a tour of the college where I met both staff and students. Indeed I was also glad to meet Seamus O'Sullivan and Gerry Ryan both former classmates of mine in UCD and both now lecturing at the college. Seamus was Limerick City Engineer for a period of major infrastructural development in the City prior to taking up a lecturing role at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT).

Paschal Meehan in the Electronics Laboratory with PJ Rudden

Maria Kyne, PJ Rudden and Paschal Meehan in Solar Energy Laboratory

LIT specialise in civil mechanical and electrical engineering in addition to construction management studies. Both areas that are currently growing in the college are electronics and the whole area of studio sound and acoustics for music and theatre events which I visited to view some dress rehearsals. Firstly I toured the surveying, motor engineering and electrical engineering depts meeting various staff members and students.

Gerard Meagher (Lecturer) and PJ Rudden President of Engineers Ireland
in the Music Media and Performance Technology Department

Maria Kyne and Paschal Meehan in the Motor Engineering workshop with PJ Rudden

I then visited some of the music centres where students at various stages were testing their sound and acoustic talents in advance of gaining employment in radio TV stage and screen.

PJ Rudden President of Engineers Ireland and Peter Diffley (technician)
in the LIT Millennium Theatre

I was brought into the LIT Millennium Theatre where I was shown the equipment used to mix the sound and music effects of a full production.

Ger Hartigan and PJ Rudden President of Engineers Ireland
in the Surveying Department

I left LIT realising that every IT has its own set of specialist areas and service specific areas of the economy. LIT graduates have project management skills for construction and logistics management in industry generally and also specialise in producing graduates who are the engineers that make stage and screen events happen in Ireland and internationally wherever they go.

Cuairt ar An Roth

Cúpla miosa ó shin, cuir me cuart ar An Roth I gCumann Innealtoirí na hÉireann. Bhí Cathaoirleach An Roth an Doctúir Fionn O Muircheartaigh ina gceannais ag an uair sin.

Ins an Céad Oráid mar Uachtaráin Mi Bealtaine seo caite, deir mé go bhfuil suim agam sa Gaeilge agus ag an abhar sin déanfadh mé mo dhicheall freastal ar cuart amháin no beidir faoi dhó i rith mo bhlian as Uachtaráin.

Freastal mé ar leacht Matt Hussey iar-cheannaire eolaíochta i DIT ar “An Chichipéad Eolaíochta agus Teicneolaíochta”. Bhí slua reasúnta i labhair agus roinnt daoine eile ar an líne ríomhaire ina theach no oifig fhéin. Leacht ana suimiúil a bhí ann a chuir comhtheacs ar stair an eolaíochta and teicneolaíocta and an ceangail ata idir an dá ábhair.

Cloisimid faoi na Eolaí agus na Innealtoirí cailiúil i rith na céadta mar shampla. Copernicus, Lavoisier, Laplace, Faraday, Brunel, Stephanson, Volta, Boyle, Hamilton, Boole and na céadta eile. Cloisimid freisin ar an éifeacht mór a bhí ag baint leis na fionnachtáin agus na claichlú a rinne siad ar caighdeán beatha na ndaoine ar fad an domhain. Fuair me fochlóir nua ar na céadta tearma teicneolaíocta as Gaeilge. Bhí an leacht abhartha don saol ata inniu ann agus go háirithe ar an gearroráid a bhi agamsa don Roth. Freisin bhí pictiurí ana suiliúil ag Matt mar shampla - An Bealach na Bo Finna (The Milky Way phenomenon in outerspace) nach chonaic mé riamh roimhe sin.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Robert Boyle

Seo é an oráid beag a rinne mé fhéin ar an oiche sin tas éis leacht Matt Hussey.

Anuraidh i mí Bealtaine 2011 bhí me tofa mar Uachtaráin ar Cumann Innealtorí na hEireann. Is mór an ónóir domsa bheith pairteach sna gluais mór naisiúnta seo le cathair a ghabháil do tir le fás agus forbairt a áthbheochaint and fostaíthocht a leathniú sna toinscail teicneolaíochta.

Cad is fath don Chumann san lá ata inniu ann? Bhuil is guth náisiúnta fíor nó udarach é ar son an gairm innealtóireacht uilig san Éirinn. Ta fómhór an fás eacnanaíochta atá ar bun na laethanta seo ag tarlú ins na fiortair fearma, an ríomhaireacht, bith-theicneolaíocht and ins an tionscail fuinneamh.

De réir na meáin cumasáide ta an fás agus an forbairt seo ag teacht ón Eolaíocht amháin. Ta sé sin beagnach ceart! Is as na Tionscail Innealltóireachta atá na jobanna a chruthnú!! Tá an Eolaíocht ceart go leor ach is an Eolaíocht agus an Maitimatic bunaithe ar an Innealtóireacht. Tá na hInnealtóirí ag chruthú na jobanna sin mar is an Innealtóireacht a deanann an Eolaíocht ina fiontar trachtála ar an gceád dul síos. Níl sé sin áisúil a rá áfach!

Tá Comairle an Chumann ag obair ana dícheallach an bliain seo! Tá muid ag iarradh proifil an Innealtóir Cairte no Gairmúil (CEng) a chur chun tosaigh leis an fogra ar an teilifis ar RTE, SKY agus na meáin mar sin de.

Dún Duchathaoir Arann

Taimid tar éis na Riallacha Ballraíochta a airdú conus go mbeadh Céim Mhaistir  nó comhbhrí ag gach éinne a bhuil CEng á lorg. Freisin tá na heolaí imshaolach nó na gairm nach bhuil céim innealltóireach acu ach go cinnte tá said ag obair ar scéimanna innealltoíreachta  tabhartach. Da bhár sin anois tá siad in ann an MIEI a ghnothaigh or a baint amach anois freisin.

Criunniú na mBád
Ta mé tar eis cuart a gabháil ar beagnach gach coláiste triú leibhéil agus beagnach gach fiontar taighde in Eirinn mar shampla Institiuid Tyndall I Corchaigh agus Institiuid Nasiúnta na Mara I nGaillimh agus na cúigead roinn innealtóireachta I gColaiste Ollscoil Blath Cliath. Sé an spreagadh a bhí agam ná tabhair chun súntais conas atá Oideachais ina síol don Fiontar agus ina ndhiaidh sin, ina síol an Fhostaiocht a leathrú. Se an ábhair a bhí ar mo Oráid Uachtaráin ná ‘Building a Sustainable Recovery’ (Téarnamh Eachamíocht a Athbeochaint).

Ar an Cuan Nua i Cill Rónáin bhí An Ollamh Pádraic MacDonnacha NUIG,
Padraig Ó Rodáin Uachtarán Chumann Innealtóirí na nEireann
agus Cathy Ní Ghoill Bainisteoir Comharchumann Forbatha Arann
Freisin tá mé ag chur cuart ar sceimanna bonneagar mar shampla bhi me ag an Droichead Nua Mizen in iarthar Chorcaigh i mhí Lunasa, ag Tullán Luimhnigh I mí Feabhra, ag Sceim Draenála i gCeatharlach in Mí Eanair, go hArainn i Chuan na Gaillime I Mí Bealtaine. Chuaigh mé go Chill Ronáin leis an cuan nua i Cill Ronáin a fheiceáil in éineacht le Chomhairchumann Arann agus an Bainisteoir iontach sin Cathy Ní Ghoill atá ar bhall Bord Udarás na Gaeltachta freisin. Bhí me ina comhairleoir don Chomharchumann de bhliain ó sin ar scéim nua athcusála a chur ar bun. Sin an gealltanais a rinne me anuraidh and sin a rinne mé - le cathair a tharraing do na hInnealtoiri and na daoine sna ceantair eagsúla timpeall na tíre.