Thursday, 26 April 2012

Annual Conference opens in Titanic Belfast

Last night the Engineers Ireland Annual Conference opened in Belfast at a reception hosted by the Northern Region of Engineers Ireland and was attended by the High Sheriff of Belfast.

The Northern Region Chairman Peter Quinn welcomed the delegates to the Europa Conference Centre and introduced the Chairman of the Titanic Trust, Jonathan Hegan, and CEO of Titanic Quarter, Mike Smith. Mike Smith gave a fascinating outline of the planning financing construction and fitting out of the new Titanic Belfast visitor centre that delegates will visit this evening before the conference dinner at Belfast City Hall.


Peter Quinn Chairman Northern Region Engineers Ireland, PJ Rudden President Engineers Ireland, May Campbell High Sheriff of Belfast, Don McQuillan Director RPS Structural Designer of Titanic Belfast and Jonathan Hegan Chairman of the Titanic Trust
It was a mammoth task to get Titanic Belfast built on time for the centenary of the Titanic story in April 2012. Getting work started on time in 2009 was challenging, as the world financial crisis impacted adversely on financing of the new centre. The developers at Titanic Quarter overcame their difficulties with the help of the architects firm Todd Associates, RPS Consulting Engineers and EC Harris Project Managers, resulting in the centre opening on time last month.

Jonathan described the combination of pride and humility with which they have celebrated the opening of Titanic Belfast which has attracted over 80,000 visitors already since its opening three weeks ago.

In thanking the Northern Region and the Titanic Trust for the reception and talks on Titanic Belfast, I welcomed all the delegates and hoped that the conference would be stimulating technically and exciting to see the iconic new Signature Building which is in the shape of a white star, each corner of which is a replica of the hull of the ship itself.

The conference will focus on the Manufacturing tradition of Belfast, now transformed from shipbuilding into the manufacture of turbines and other engineering components for the Offshore Energy industry, which are now taking place in part of the regenerated Harland & Wolff Shipyard in the middle of the new Titanic Quarter.

This morning I will open the conference on Harnessing and Developing Creativity followed by Dr Stephen Myers of CERN Accelerator Laboratory in Switzerland and Alex Attwood MLA Minister for the Environment in Northern Ireland.

Then we will hear leading speakers from the Irish Energy industry including John Barry MD of Bord G√°is Networks and Bob Hanna Chief Technical Adviser in the Dept of Communications Energy and Natural Resources in Dublin.

It's great to be in Belfast on such a wonderful occasion and see the attraction it has become on the strength of the new democratic institutions here.

I'm especially delighted with the number of our members who have come from Cork, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Sligo and all along the west coast of Ireland to share in this national occasion in Belfast.


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