Thursday, 22 September 2011

Chartered Biomedical Engineer is new Trinity Provost

I had the pleasant task on Monday of accepting the kind invitation to attend the Inaugural Address of the new Provost of Trinity College Professor Patrick Prendergast, a biomedical/mechanical engineer and native of Co Wexford. He will serve a 10 year term as Provost.

He is the 44th Provost of Trinity and was Professor of Bioengineering from 2007 to 2011. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland - the second Chartered Engineer to head an Irish University following in the footsteps of Dr Jim Browne current President in NUIG. Both of them incidentally qualified as Mechanical Engineers.

Paddy graduated in Mechanical Engineering in 1983 and later with a PhD in Bioengineering. He then did research in Italy and the Netherlands before returning to lecture in Trinity in 1995. Together with colleagues in Engineering, Dentistry, Medicine and Physiology he established the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering in 2002.

Prof Prendergast's research is in the area of medical device technologies where he has developed well known theories on mechanoregulation of tissue behaviour. He has significant industrial collaboration in implant design and development including his role on the board of Clearstream Technologies plc who manufacture stents and catheters for the medical device market.

His Address was inspiring. It concentrated on the global position of Trinity and the need for increased 'research based education.' Education should be based on outputs not inputs in terms of teaching hours, he said. Universities delivering quality education to large numbers of students could be significant creators of jobs.

'A recent survey of employer expectations showed that employers of our graduates value critical and independent thinking, excellent communications skills and students who have developed a capacity for responsibility and initiative through extra curriculum activities' he stated. This sounds like the modern definition of what the products of a modern university should be.

'Students who are even wiser than they were yesterday; students engaged in lifelong learning, who are sound in their foundations but not stuck in their opinions; that's what we want. That's who will reap most private benefit and who will sow most public good' he said.

All in all as I listened to the new Provost setting out his vision it sounded like the 21st century vision for Third Level Education - a lot like the modern day John Henry Newman who in the 1800s wrote world famous English prose on describing the ideal university and indeed the ideal gentlemen - bizarrely ladies did not go to university in the 19th century!

All of us in Engineers Ireland wish this highly talented Engineer now Provost of Trinity College every success in his challenging new role over the next 10 years.

Professor of Bio-Engineering and Newly elected Provost at Trinity College Dublin,
Professor Patrick Prendergast (Trinity College Dublin)

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