Friday, 28 October 2011

Will You Come With Me

Today and tonight the new Engineers Ireland radio and TV advertising campaign for Chartered Engineer goes live. This will coincide with the result of the Presidential election when target audiences are high especially this evening around 9 o’clock.

To the lyrics of ‘Will You Come With Me’ we invite Second Level students to consider engineering as a career and we invite existing graduate Engineers to become Chartered Engineers. The title of Chartered Engineer or CEng is only possible to achieve in Ireland through Engineers Ireland.

Chartered Engineer is only awarded following a Third Level engineering degree followed by a period (minimum 2 years) of Technical Training and a further period (minimum 2 years) of professional experience. Typically therefore new Chartered Engineers are in the age group 26 – 35.
Claire Lillis
Mechanical Design Engineer
Nick Gray
Senior Software engineer
The radio advert is 30 seconds long and the TV advert is 60 seconds. The messaging has to be more direct on radio to get the impact across while the visual imaging on TV carries its own powerful message. The TV advert involves the work of 10 existing Engineers (5 male and 5 female) operating in 10 diverse branches of engineering if Ireland.

The new advert shows that engineering is an exciting career – building bridges, turning the ocean waves into energy, developing new water supplies and giving life to people in our hospitals through biomedical engineering. Engineering also makes the work of defence forces more effective technically and creates jobs to new software development e.g. in gaming and entertainment.

Hope you enjoy the advert and all comments welcome. Link here to the advert.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Calling all Environmental Scientists

Engineers Ireland knows that we cannot rebuild a national recovery or even engineer a new Ireland on our own. While international companies exporting computing, medical and pharma products account for much of our current growth these enterprises employ a lot of different professions.

While there are many engineers involved in the design and manufacture of products and services there are also many other professionals contributing also to this great endeavour. The same is true of infrastructural projects in the Transport, Energy, Water, Food, Process and Environmental sectors where Engineers work closely with Scientists, Geologists, Statisticians etc.

That is why Engineers Ireland decided to open up our membership in recent years to 'cognate professions'. These are professions akin to engineering whose graduates are working 'in an engineering role' i.e. working on engineering projects or services. For instance, there are many environmental scientists working in engineering firms on Environmental Impact Assessments and Strategic Environmental Assessments.

These cognate professionals many with level 8 (BSc Hons) and 9 (MSc) qualifications can now become Members of Engineers Ireland (MIEI). If after suitable professional experience in an engineering role, they can then graduate to the title of Chartered Engineer (CEng MIEI) and when they become eminent in their field can apply for Fellowship of Engineers Ireland (CEng FIEI).

Last year my predecessor as President Martin Lowery conferred a Fellowship by Presidential Invitation on Elizabeth Arnett a Senior Environmental Scientist. Elizabeth qualified with a BAgrSc and MAgrSc by research from UCD, then worked as Green Schools Officer with An Taisce before joining MCOS as an Environmental Scientist in the late 1990s.

Martin Lowery President of Engineers Ireland, New Chartered Engineer and
Fellow of Engineers Ireland Elizabeth Arnett MSc and John Power Director
General Engineers Ireland at the Conferring of Titles in May 2011.

She subsequently developed her own brand of Stakeholder Engagement on sensitive infrastructural projects. That business then grew into an integrated Project Communications team employing environmental and social scientists, engineers, communications scientists and media consultants.

Elizabeth is now Director of Project Communications with RPS in Dublin leading communications on many national engineering projects. She has frequently been interviewed on national media shows such as Morning Ireland, The Right Hook, The Last Word and Prime Time.

Elizabeth as a scientist is not unique in gaining membership of Engineers Ireland. But she is a role model to demonstrate that Engineers Ireland membership at all levels is now open to other allied professions. I personally know a number of geologists who have also become members and apart from scientists I also know a forestry graduate engaged in GIS for engineering projects who has achieved MIEI in recent months.

So I'm calling on all those professions who work closely with us on engineering projects to consider membership of Engineers Ireland. Application forms are available on our website at

Monday, 24 October 2011

Farewell to a Great President

As this week draws to a close we will know who will be the 9th President of Ireland. I wish him or her well when elected by the people.

It signals the end of 14 years of Mary McAleese as our President. She has been an outstanding ambassador for Ireland crowned by two extraordinary visits in May by Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama.

She has represented us abroad with great distinction. Her predecessor Mary Robinson proved to be the symbol of a new tolerant Ireland. Mary McAleese was the symbol of a modern Ireland at peace with itself North and South. 'Building Bridges' was her motto and she fulfilled that ambition admirably. Her husband - now Senator Martin McAleese - also played a vital role in building these bridges North and South between nationalist and unionist traditions.

I had the pleasure of meeting the President when she invited Engineers Ireland to the Áras in June 2010. Our President Martin Lowery was abroad so I led the Engineers Ireland group together with Director General John Power. The occasion was the 175th anniversary of the founding of Engineers Ireland in 1835 - when Sir John Fox Burgogne was our first President of what was then The Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland. Fox Burgogne was Chairman of the Board of Works based at the Custom House.

President Mary McAleese with Engineers Ireland Vice President PJ Rudden and Director General John Power during our visit to Áras an Uachtaráin in June 2010 to mark our 175th anniversary celebrations

President McAleese made the visit of our 50 members so memorable. She gave us a tour of the State Apartments and then treated us to tea with the help of the Áras staff.  She was very informal to make us feel at home insisting on pouring out our teas herself and chatting with us throughout about the many challenges we faced professionally and personally. She has an engineer daughter which greatly helped her understanding of the profession.

Also striking was the courtesy of her military aides who were most helpful in explaining the history of the Áras and indeed the history of the Presidency. The confident ease of these aides bore large testament to the respect they had for the President and her family and it was obvious that it went well beyond their professional duty. You could see too the confidence that she had in them also to be faithful custodians of a proud heritage.

She expressed her wish that there would be a visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth before she left the Áras in 2011 and her wish was granted. No doubt the short visit by President Obama also in May of this year was an added bonus during her term.

As she retires to private life, we salute her two terms as President for all the people. We wish herself, her husband and family a happy and fulfilling life in the years ahead.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Annual Energy Institute Dinner

On Tuesday night I attended the Annual Energy Institute Dinner at which Minister Pat Rabbitte spoke on Government energy policy. The dinner was hosted by the Republic of Ireland branch of the Energy Institute currently chaired by David Taylor who was Sustainable Energy Ireland's first CEO.

Minister Rabbitte identified the key priority as 'the delivery of our vital energy infrastructure projects to underpin security of supply.....development of GRID 25 is critical to our long term economic recovery… has been argued in some quarters that the severe step down in economic activity ought to result in pulling back investment in this area…..but infrastructure investments are long term investments by nature.....they increase competition and assist in achieving our ambitious renewable targets'. Link to Speech.

Therefore it was 'game set and match' to the continued investment in grid developments including North South and East West interconnectors and in renewable energy projects all of which Engineers Ireland strongly support in our State of Ireland Infrastructure Report of May 2011.

The lack of interconnectors between Ireland and the UK 'is imposing significant costs on electricity generators and consumers on both sides of the border' the Minister added.

He also spoke of the national importance of the Corrib project which 'is capable of supplying over 60% of Ireland's natural gas needs - this underlines the strategic importance of the project'.

With regard to further oil and gas exploration, he ruled out any prospect of a state exploration company as a 'persistent myth' together with any further need for changes in the exploration 'fiscal regime'. The reasons for this are very clear from his announcements of the previous day on the '2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round' - of the 13 exploration licences issued, many are new entrants and there were no signs of any interest from the large global energy companies.

The message from the major oil and gas industry players was very clear - Ireland is not fully open for business based on legacy issues which we all understand.

The Minister also drew attention to the 'development over the new few years of a significantly more interconnected pan European energy market'. Ireland he said 'will ultimately be a small part of very large European regional electricity and gas markets'.

He concluded by stating that the current review of national policy by the International Energy Agency (IEA) will inform a new Energy Policy Framework to be published in 2012 which will replace the 2007 Energy White Paper.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

YES Ball - Third Level Education Liaison

On Friday night I was pleased to accept the invitation of Justine Butler Chairperson of the Young Engineers Society (YES) to their Annual Ball at the Morrison Hotel.

It was a 'masked ball' affair with both John Butler the other guest and myself together with our partners exempt from the masking formalities. (John is the HR Director in Engineers Ireland). All of the young engineers donned their masks though led by Justine whose mask was painted on!

Julie Goggins Third Level Liaison Engineers Ireland,
P J Rudden President Engineers Ireland,
Justine Butler Chairperson YES and Richard Burke UCD Student Engineer

The YES Ball was a spectacular success with double the attendance of last year. There were two reasons for this - firstly more companies were represented than last year and secondly there were a substantial number of engineering students present from UCD, DIT, DCU and as far away as DKIT.

The students added greatly to the fun and glamour of the night. Their presence in force was a tribute to our two new Third Level Liaison officers in Engineers Ireland - Julie Goggins and Richard Wilson - whose outreach into the colleges has obviously been extremely successful over the past year. I have no doubt that this engagement with the Third Level Education Sector will continue to grow in the years ahead. I say this as both Julie and Richard continue to 'weave their spell' on the students who appear to have enormous respect for both of them and after Friday night I can see why.

William Meara President of the DIT Engineering Society, Julie Farrelly DIT Eng Soc, Richard Wilson Third Level Liaison Engineers Ireland and James O'Meara Project Engineer Dromone Engineering and Innovative Student of the Year 2010 (DIT)

Many thanks to the companies who took tables and sent their young engineers to enjoy the night - ESBI, Clifton Scannell, DPS, Arup, Cedco and RPS. Thanks also to the many students who see a bright professional future with Engineers Ireland.

In my speech I assured the gathering that Engineers Ireland will continue to work all of our creative skills to generate employment for our graduates whether in manufacturing, infrastructure or exporting our services.

We take the importance of the Young Engineers Society very seriously in Engineers Ireland as we see in YES the young engineers who are the leaders of our future.

This year for the first time we have co-opted the Chairperson of YES Justine Butler to both our Council and to our Executive Board to give a voice to the young engineers at the highest levels of the profession. Justine through her contributions has already shown that she is up to the challenge of helping to chart the roadway for the future with Engineers Ireland.

I was delighted to learn also that at least three of the young engineers who attended on Friday night are in our new Advertising Campaign for Engineers Ireland ('This is My Land This is Your Land') so look out for them when they appear in a staring role on TV  next month - Elva Bannon, Jamie O'Meara and Katie O'Neill!

I wish the Young Engineers Society every success and growth in quality and numbers in the years ahead. They are truly the future of Engineers Ireland.

Monday, 17 October 2011

October Executive Meeting

We had our October Executive Meeting last Thursday which I chaired before going onto the Annual Dublin Chamber of Commerce Dinner.

Highlight of the meeting was a Presentation by our Education Advisor Paul Sheridan and STEPS Manager Caitriona Geraghty giving an update on the Educational Initiatives this year by Engineers Ireland.

Paul is particularly involved in the whole educational policy space in terms of curriculum reform at Second Level. This includes the whole new Project Maths issue, a new look Junior Cycle involving less subjects but more 'learning' and a new Science Curriculum at both Junior and Senior Cycle.

Paul has also been engaging with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the Teaching Council (TC) who are responsible for teacher registration at Second Level. This engagement has included finding a 'roadmap for engineers' to enter the Second Level teaching profession especially for Maths and Science subjects.

Caitriona outlined the current STEPS programme in a strategic alliance with Discover Science and Engineering which is currently part of Forfas. There is the National Xperience event for Primary Schools every year in the Helix. For Second Level schools tremendous work is being done in conjunction with University of Limerick National Centre of Excellence for Maths and Science and with various industry players to produce case studies to illustrate the role and importance of Maths and Science in the day to day operation of these industries (eg Wavebob, Defence Forces, Shell, Arup etc).

Barry Stokes our Communications Executive gave a presentation on our Free Junior and Senior Certificate Maths Grinds on a Saturday in Clyde Road. These grinds need a lot of logistical and institutional support to the Engineer Volunteer Tim Joyce BE. These Saturday events are currently oversubscribed in Dublin with a substantial waiting list.

We are currently looking to extending the Free Maths Grinds to the cities of Cork Limerick and Galway with the support of the local Regional Committees of Engineers Ireland over the course of the current year.

All in all the current support that Engineers Ireland gives to Education in Ireland at primary, second and third level is truly phenomenal. It has increased exponentially over the past year with the same staffing levels as in 2010. This is all achieved by truly remarkable Engineers Ireland staff Paul Sheridan, Caitriona Geraghty and Barry Stokes at the various levels coupled with the Third Level Liaison by Julie Goggins and Richard Wilson.

Royal Town Planning Institute Conference - Building Strategic Infrastructure

On Wednesday last October 12th I was invited to speak at the Royal Town Planning Institute conference in Dublin - 'Building Bridges - Planning for Strategic Infrastructure Development'.

The topic I was given was 'Towards a new National Policy for Waste Infrastructure'. Other sectors covered were Power Transmission Lines, Wind Energy, Environmental Risk and Public Communications.

Chairing the conference was Des Cox  of Eirgrid and Chairman of the Irish Branch of RTPI and Special Guest Speaker was RTPI President Richard Summers who is Head of Planning at the The Landscape Partnership in UK.

Des Cox of Eirgrid and Chairman of the Irish Branch of RTPI 

The constant theme of the speakers was in favour of 'plan led' strategic development with which Engineers Ireland fully agree. I based my presentation on the State of Ireland Infrastructure Report published by Engineers Ireland in May of this year. This Report sets out the Engineers Ireland policy on waste management.

The priority themes in the report were support for the continuation of Regional Waste Management Plans but better coordinated on a national basis. Also the need to ensure that integrated waste plans are implemented - therefore the ownership of waste should be vested in local authorities and these authorities to direct waste to strategic national and regional facilities on the higher tiers of the EU Waste Hierarchy as currently happens in most other EU countries at present.

All the speakers spoke of the need to fast-track 'national strategic infrastructure'. In this regard, in my speech I identified the recommended Waste to Energy plants in the North East and Dublin Regions as capable of substantial landfill diversion to satisfy the ambitious targets in the EU Landfill Directive. The Landfill Directive has been implemented in other leading EU countries though a similar integrated approach.

The urgent national environmental imperative is to further reduce our landfilling from the current near 60% by the faster introduction of the waste to energy plants authorised by the current regional plans.

Naturally the landfill/MBT contractors in the Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA) don't accept that but the current Minister appears determined to confirm and correctly implement EU and national policy in this regard. Engineers Ireland very much support the Minister's resource based waste policy and look forward to early implementation.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Answer my Friend is Blowing in the Wind

On Thursday, 6th October, I was pleased to be in Killarney to speak as President at the Irish Wind Energy Association autumn conference which was opened by Minister for the Environment Community and Local Government Phil Hogan TD.

The title of my paper was 'Renewable Energy Opportunities for the Engineering Profession'. I detailed the challenge we all face to meet national and EU energy targets but these present tremendous opportunities also in both onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal power.

PJ Rudden speaking as President of Engineers Ireland
at the IWEA autumn conference

Minister Hogan was keen to assure his audience that current regulatory obstacles impacting on offshore energy infrastructure will be removed with a new Marine Planning Bill. He was also reassuring on Government commitment to REFIT (Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff) 2 as otherwise there can be no Round 3 renewable developments whether licensed or not.

In my own address I referenced our State of Ireland Infrastructure Report of May 2011 which very much supports Government and EU targets on renewables.

I stated in unequivocal language that not only does Engineers Ireland support our current national renewable targets but that we differ with the tiny  minority of engineers who for their own reasons don't support these targets.

Frankly those who wish to rely on fossil fuels for longer than is needed lack a long term vision of what's happening in the world today particularly with regard to the accepted reality of climate change. This is the type of blinkered thinking by some engineers to whom I referred in my Presidential Address as unlikely to influence or inspire any recovery in the Irish Economy.

The Engineers Ireland policy priorities three themes - security of supply, decarbonisation and competitiveness. Of course ongoing policy review must have regard to current demand projections but we must now plan a 'fit for purpose' energy infrastructure for the longer term having regard to the medium to long term gestation period for most of the larger energy projects.

We need a fully diversified energy mix as future security. While fossil fuels will always be part of that mix it will be a slowly decreasing part. Our future policies need to respond to that reality. Our Government and most other Governments in the developed world do so as do most global professional organisations who wish to lead their members forward.

I also referred to the tremendous opportunities that the full development of our offshore renewable resources can provide in term of multibillion export if we align the regulatory regimes in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland at least and also England and Wales as the UK will have an energy deficit in some 10 years from now. We as engineers need to seize that export opportunity as part of our economic recovery drive.

I look forward to the Irish Scottish Energy Links Study (ISLES Study) Conclusions and Recommendations being announced by the three Ministers for Energy in Glasgow on November 23rd next. This is deemed to be the seminal study which will dictate the development of Offshore Renewables (Wind, Wave and Tidal) off our coastline for the next 30 or 40 years.

These are difficult challenges requiring a balanced technical environmental and social assessment. They require a vision and firm leadership which Engineers Ireland will continue to give. We will continue to support successive ambitious Government thinking with which we are firmly aligned.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

CPD Company of the Year Awards

On Wednesday morning I hosted the presentation of the CPD Company of the Year Awards which is one of the highlights of the Engineers Ireland year. CPD is Continuing Professional Development which is the means by which people maintain and grow their knowledge and skills related to their professional lives.

Our Guest Keynote Speaker was Colin Cadas Specialist in Knowledge Management (KM) from Rolls Royce. His company branding speaks for itself. He was inspirational and gave logical expression to many our intuitive human KM techniques.

Pictured at the Presentation of the Engineers Ireland Public Sector
'Company of the Year 2011' to Cavan County Council
L-R: Ger Finn Director of Services to Cavan County Council,
John Power Director General Engineers Ireland, Jack Keyes Cavan County Manager,
PJ Rudden President Engineers Ireland, John Brannigan, Brendan Jennings
and Kevin Smith of Cavan County Council Staff
This year there were five awards to five very excellent companies all of whom have used CPD to drive increased national and company enterprise to create jobs and for many to expand into international markets:
  • Small-sized Company Award - Jennings & O'Donovan, Consulting Engineers, Sligo
  • Medium-sized Company Award - MCS Kenny, Marine Consultants, Galway
  • Large-sized Company Award - Farrans (Construction) Ltd Belfast
  • Public Sector Award - Cavan County Council
  • OVERALL WINNER - Openhydro Tidal Technology, Greenore Co Louth
Openhydro the overall winner is a truly remarkable company. Founded in 2005 they are a technology business that designs and manufactures marine turbines to generate renewable energy from tidal streams at the bed of the ocean. The electricity produced is completely renewable since it relies on tides that are created by the gravitational effect of the sun and the moon.

Openhydro Technology on surface

Openhydro Technology on seabed

Openhydro currently employ some 50 people in their R&D facility in Greenore County Louth and have announced plans for taking on 20 additional staff including project engineers and managers, manufacturing engineers as well as finite element and structural engineers. I will certainly be visiting their facility in Greenore as part of my national tour this year of research and infrastructure sites to see this example of 'growing Enterprise through Innovation'.

Openhydro won the award for using CPD to go from a start up R&D firm to becoming a global player in marine turbines that generate renewable energy from tidal streams.

Equally remarkable I thought was the achievement of Cavan County Council for winning the Public Sector Award for a very innovative application of CPD. Through a comprehensive CPD approach the Council ran a most successful Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in 2010 and 2011.

A town of 10,000 population was transformed into a tourism footfall of 250,000 visitors for the Fleadh week and brought an additional €35million to the local economy each year. Such was its success that Cavan has now won the privilege of staging it also in 2012 - that's a truly remarkable injection of €105 million into the Cavan economy over 3 years.
Session on the 'Rig' at Cavan Fleadh 2011
Courtesy of
Spearheading this achievement is Jack Keyes Chartered Engineer and Cavan County Manager supported by his engineering and administrative staff. Jack was in fact also Chairman of Cavan's Fleadh Executive Committee.
The CPD achievement was to marshall the technical and managerial resources of the Council through leadership and training to deal with the many logistic challenges that these national events bring to a small town. They include traffic management, parking, crowd control, water and waste management, street cleaning and overall environmental management.

Finally let me say that none of this marvellous CPD effort through Engineers Ireland nor the CPD Company of the Year would be possible without the inspirational leadership of Engineers Ireland CPD Director Aiden Harney supported by CPD staff members Dee Keogh, Ronan Kearns and Kelly Scott. Thanks also to Director General John Power who opened the event. Our Vice President John O'Dea who chaired the Panel Discussion with Patrick Duffy of Boston Scientific, Gerry Duane of Fingal County Council, Conor McCarthy of Jennings & O'Donovan and Kieran Kavanagh of MCS Kenny. Michael Hayden chaired the Judging Panel for the Awards. The entire event was kindly sponsored by Aveva.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

US President of Building Services Engineers visits Ireland

On Monday evening in Clyde Road, Engineers Ireland hosted visiting ASHRAE President Ron Jarnagin and his wife Linda from Richland, Washington State, USA. He had earlier delivered a lecture on his profession at DIT. He will travel onto Edinburgh, London, Paris and Brussels to meet fellow professional bodies before returning home next week.

ASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. Ron is a Mechanical Engineering Graduate working in the North West National Laboratory. He was accompanied by Derek Mowlds Chairman of the Irish Branch Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

As fellow professionals speaking to Ron we found that we had much in common with our US colleagues with respect to Sustainability and Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Indeed arising from the visit there are opportunities of increased cooperation locally between Engineers Ireland and CIBSE.

John Power Director General Engineers Ireland, P J Rudden President Engineers Ireland, Ron Jarnagin President ASHRAE and Derek Mowlds Chairman of Rep of Ireland Branch of CIBSE