Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Launching Engineers Week with Infrastructure Update Report

Engineers Week was launched by Mr Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on Monday morning last with the publication of 'The State of Ireland 2012 - A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland' report by Engineers Ireland.

Pat Rabbitte TD, Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources launching the Engineers Ireland Infrastructure Report as part of Engineers Week together
with PJ Rudden President Engineers Ireland
and John Power Director General Engineers Ireland
The report states that Ireland struggles to meet peak demand in the infrastructural areas of transport, water and waste which all require significant investment and better maintenance. Ireland's regional communications infrastructure is improving but overall country-wide deficiencies in this area still hamper producer and consumer needs.

In launching the Report Minister Rabbitte stated that 'As my portfolio across energy, exploration and communications, I have some appreciation for the important role that infrastructure plays in our everyday lives and I also appreciate that engineers make infrastructure. Ireland needs to engineer its way to the knowledge-based society that we all agree is our future. We need more engineers. We need them now and we need them in the future. We need schools to make Maths and Physics interesting and we need more people to choose engineering as a career. That's why I welcome the initiative that is Engineers Week. It's a week of activities all over the country intended to capture the imagination of our young people'.

John Power Director General summarised the report by outlining the grading system given to infrastructure in Ireland with respect to Energy, Transport, Water and Flooding, Waste and Communications in 2012 as respectively B, C, C, C and B-. 'Capital investment is vital to meet the Government's desire to stimulate the economy and meet its stated job creation objectives outlined in the Action Plan for Jobs. Crucially vital skills are being lost to the Irish economy and the Irish construction industry through the absence of major infrastructural projects' he stated.

In thanking the Minister for launching the Report I agreed with him that despite the downturn in the economy that now was not the time 'to take the foot off the pedal' as far as the provision of infrastructure was concerned. We needed to create a greater awareness in society of the role that engineers played and instanced the IDA Ireland report from last month that 47% of the new jobs created in 2011 were from the engineering sector in computing, pharma and biomedical engineering. Even as I spoke 200 pharma science jobs and engineering jobs were being announced by Eli Lilly at a total investment of €330million in Kinsale County Cork by Richard Bruton Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation that morning. 

Engineers Week is packed this year with some 255 events nationally. After the launch John Power and I travelled north to Belfast for the Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture in Queens University. The title this year was 'Building Business in Belfast, Bangalore and Beijing'. The speakers this year were Philip Gilliland Partner at Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors Belfast and Pugalenthi Pandian Centre Manager for Schlumberger Europe in Belfast.

Each showed how companies from Northern Ireland can compete on a global stage and how they can develop a share in emerging markets with a particular focus on Asian economies. Philip in particular felt that the recent visit of Xi Jinping Vice President of China to Ireland would have very positive impacts on future prospects for Ireland as a gateway to Europe for our goods and services.

Tonight we have the McLaughlin Lecture on Moore's Law by Liam Madden Corporate Vice President of Xilinx inc. a graduate of UCD engineering and Cornell who is based in San Francisco. Moore's law named after the founder of Intel describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware whereby the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

Tomorrow, volunteers from Engineers Ireland visit Second Level schools all over Ireland to highlight the importance of Maths as a basis for engineering. This will support the new Project Maths curriculum currently being rolled out in all secondary schools.

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