Monday, 7 November 2011

Can Engineers Save the Economy?

Last week I was kindly invited by the UCD Dean of Engineering Professor Gerry Byrne to a 'Celebration of UCD Engineering Past and Present' in the Clinton Auditorium in Belfield. I was joined by UCD President Hugh Brady and by both Vice Presidents - Des Fitzgerald VP Research and Peter Clinch VP Innovation all of whom I have met at previous engagements in UCD.

It was also the occasion of the presentation of the UCD Engineering Graduates Association (EGA) Distinguished Graduate Award 2011 to Professor David O'Reilly former Chairman and CEO of Chevron plc based in the US. Before the Award presentation Professor O'Reilly presented a lecture on 'Can Engineers Save the Economy?' David O’Reilly graduated in Chemical Engineering in UCD in 1968 and went on to head up Chevron’s worldwide organisation with 58,000 employees and annual turnover of $200 billion.

In an inspiring address Prof O'Reilly pointed out the contribution that engineers had in building the Irish economy in terms of development of hydropower, energy water and transport infrastructure and the smart economy. He urged engineers to get out of their comfort zone and enter management and politics if we are to effect change in society.

He acknowledged though that this was not happening sufficiently in the US either so engineer reluctance to engage actively in community and political life was not just an Irish problem. He also urged engineers to keep their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and life long learning up to date.

David was a worthy winner of the 2011 EGA Distinguished Graduate Award. The UCD President gave the closing address and presented Prof O'Reilly a metal bound presentation copy of the book 'Building of the State'. This is the fabulous book on the 100 year history of Government Buildings Merrion Street launched by the Taoiseach in early July (see my blog of 8th July 2011).

Michael Loughnane EGA President, Professor Hugh Brady UCD President, Professor David O'Reilly 2011 EGA Distinguished Graduate and Professor Gerry Byrne UCD Dean of Engineering.

Professor Gerry Byrne Dean of Engineering and Principal of the School of Engineering and Architecture in his opening remarks outlined some very welcome changes in the further restructuring of the UCD School of Engineering and Architecture - the reinclusion of the Dept of Food Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering into the School of Engineering taking it back from the School of Agriculture, the inclusion of Materials and Bioengineering in the Dept of Mechanical Engineering, the inclusion for the first time of Communications in the Dept of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering and the inclusion for the first time of Environmental Engineering in the new Dept of Civil Structural and Environmental Engineering. I have no doubt that each of these reconfigurations will allow the new UCD School of Engineering to continue to prosper and reach its full potential in the years ahead. As my own third level Alma Mater, I wish UCD every success.

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