Monday, 8 August 2011

July Executive Meeting

Strangely, the July Executive Meeting was held on August 4th this year due to the original July date clashing with other events. This was the first meeting of the newly elected Executive for 2011/2012, and it was great to sincerely welcome the 5 new members in particular - Tom Cleary, Justine Butler, Declan Howard, Dave Kelleher and Peter Quinn. All bring a new perspective either in terms of diverse skills and regions.  Four are private sector and one public sector. One is based in Northern Ireland and one in UK.

The Executive meets monthly (except in August usually!) to make governance decisions for Engineers Ireland while the Council which meets less frequently is the corporate policy making body. The Council with 44 members elects the Executive of 16 members including President, 2 Vice Presidents and Immediate Past President and Chairperson of the Finance Committee. The President chairs both the Council and Executive.

This was a most important meeting as we debated and decided on the future requirements for the award of title of Chartered Engineer for graduates who qualify post 2013. In so doing we raised the future requirement for Chartered Engineer to possess a 5 Year Master's Degree in Engineering or equivalent rather than a pure Bachelor's degree. This effectively raises the standard and quality of the Irish CEng title which is already classed internationally as in the first league. In all cases we will continue to require a period of Technical Training usually 2 years followed by at least 2 years of Professional Experience in all comprising some 4 to 5 years experience post college before becoming a Chartered Engineer in ones late 20s or thereafter. This new requirement flagged up some years ago is a response to the Bologna Declaration of 1999 to ensure the convergence of higher educational requirements for professions across Europe.

Since 1969, Engineers Ireland is the only body in Ireland who can legally award the qualification of Chartered Engineer. It is critically important though that our Chartered Engineer qualification is consistent with the best internationally especially in the English speaking world (UK US Canada Australia) as increasingly Irish graduates are travelling abroad to seek work and experience in those countries.

We also discussed at some length a promotional campaign commencing this autumn to highlight the importance of Chartered Engineers to society in general and to economic recovery in particular. Chartered Engineers will help create and drive the new Smart Economy, keep our clean drinking water flowing, develop our energy and communications systems, make our transport systems safer and make new biomedical discoveries to help save and prolong human life.

It was President Barack Obama, himself a lawyer, who once said in terms of economic growth 'Give me less lawyers and more engineers!'. No offence to my wonderful friends in the legal profession but he was really pointing to the reputation of engineers as 'doers' and indeed our own Taoiseach made a similar remark about engineers recently in Galway at the opening of the new NUIG Engineering School which I attended.

We also discussed our 2012 Annual Conference in Belfast to mark the centenary of the Titanic Story, which will recall the Regeneration of Titanic Quarter and other exciting new economic developments in Northern Ireland. We would like the maximum numbers of members from the South to travel North for that occasion to join our Northern colleagues on April 26th and 27th 2012.

As an Ulsterman myself I will be leading the charge as Belfast will be celebrating the city's proud history and heritage to a worldwide audience. Few realise that in the 1911 Census, when the Titanic was built, that Belfast (pop 386947) was the largest city in Ireland followed by Dublin (pop 304802).

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