Friday, 29 July 2011

President's Forum at Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland

Last week I was an invited guest of Finn Ahern, President of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland, at the Annual President's Forum and lunch.

The Association represents the Consulting Engineering profession in Ireland who plan, design and supervise the construction of major engineering projects. They mostly consist of the major civil, structural, mechanical and electrical consultancy firms engaged in Engineering Design.

The structural design for the leading landmark buildings in our cities have been designed by members of ACEI - recent examples are the National Convention Centre, New Courts Building Parkgate St, Limerick Tunnel, Grand Canal Theatre, Stadia at Aviva and Thomond Park , Samuel Beckett Bridge, Mizen Head Bridge and M6 Motorway to Galway and many more..

If you take the overall life cost of any of these projects or buildings -  the breakdown of life time cost runs about 2% for design, 23% for construction and 75% for operation/maintenance and replacement. We therefore have to ensure as responsible Engineers that we invest heavily in the quality of Design in terms of innovation, energy efficiency, reduced maintenance and whole life sustainability.

More importantly our public and private clients have to realise that awarding Design Contracts solely on the basis of cost to the 'lowest bidder' will return to haunt them in terms of greater multiples of operational and maintenance costs. 

The ACEI President's Forum was a useful discussion opportunity between ACEI and Engineers Ireland  on the current state of the engineering industry and the challenges that face us. Many of the ACEI design consulting firms have been reduced in volume work by 50% or more in adjusting to the greatly reduced planning and development market that currently exists in Ireland.

Pictured at the ACEI President's Forum lunch were Derrick Edge of Arup, P J Rudden President of Engineers Ireland, Kate Gannon YPE Chair and Ryan Hanley, Phelim Devine of Arup and Finn Ahern President ACEI
An interesting initiative of ACEI has been the Young Professional Engineers Forum. This forum is for the younger members of the profession in order to attract the bright and talented into consulting. It was set up in 2007 and continues to go from strength to strength. This year's Chair of the YPE Forum is Kate Gannon a young engineer from Galway.

I raised the issue of Regulation of the Engineering profession which Engineers Ireland have been pursuing with Government. ACEI were totally supportive of this initiative.

I also informed ACEI of Engineers Ireland's plans to have a national campaign this Autumn to raise the profile of Chartered Engineer in terms of the role of engineers in society - supplying power, clean water, transport systems, IT systems,  biomedical services and communications in terms of everyday living.

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