Thursday, 24 May 2012

Annual Conferring of Titles

Over the past few weeks I had a busy round of Conferrings of Titles around the Regions and finally in the Helix DCU last Friday. These Conferrings were to the Titles of Fellow, Chartered Engineer, Associate Engineer and Technician Engineer. Travelling with me in each case was Shirley McDonald our Membership Growth Manager who organised the events together with the local Region Chairmen.

PJ Rudden President Engineers Ireland, Shirley McDonald Membership Growth Manager
and Professor Padraic O'Donoghue Chairman of the West Region

In March I had the first Conferring of Titles in the North West Region in Sligo. Then in April we had the same ceremony in the Cork Region. In May, we commenced in Limerick with the Thomond Region on May 1st followed by the West Region in Galway on May 9th and the Midland Region on May 14th. The National Conferring for the East coast and other regions were then held in the Helix DCU in Dublin on May 18th. I was delighted to see the family event that these conferrings have become where increasingly partners and children attend.

The National event included the annual award of Fellowships by Presidential Invitation. These were awarded for outstanding achievement in building national infrastructure, research leading to job creation, balanced regional development in addition to long service to Engineers Ireland. The seven recipients this year were Gerry Campbell of Shell, Andrew Cooke of EirGrid, Orla Feely of UCD, David Kirwan of Bord Gáis, Michael Loftus of CIT, Liam Madden of Xilinx and John Quinn of the North East Region.

President presents Fellowship of Engineers Ireland to Gerry Campbell
Project Director of Shell E&P Ireland Ltd

President presents Fellowship of Engineers Ireland to David Kirwan
Managing Director of Bord Gáis Energy

The event in each region also coincided with the AGM where the new Chairman and Committee for each Region were elected. I therefore witnessed the 'changing of the guard' in each region. In the Thomond Region the Chairmanship passed from Kieran Horgan (Consultant Engineer ex ESB) to Peter Tiernan (UL), in the West Region from Padraic O'Donoghue (NUIG) to Christy O'Sullivan (RPS) and in the Midlands Region from John Jordan (Wirtgen Ireland Ltd) to Damien Grennan (Offaly County Council).

President welcomes the new Thomond Region Chairman
Peter Tiernan of University of Limerick

President welcomes new West Region Chairman Christy O’Sullivan of RPS Group

At each regional event, I was also pleased to present my Presidential Address which I originally gave in Clyde Road last September. The substance of the address had not changed but I updated it to give it greater relevance to each of the regions themselves in terms of my particular visits to that region during the years.

Eoin Greaney of Pavement Management Services being presented with Chartered Engineer title 
 in Galway by President PJ Rudden and Chairman of the West Region Padraic O'Donoghue
- Eoin is joined by his wife and 3 children
In Tullamore President and Midlands Chairman presents Chartered Engineer title
to Linda Parkinson of Laois County Council
I was able to strengthen the address also in terms where Government had heeded what I had said in September and had made policy changes in the meantime. This was obvious to me in two important policy areas.

1. I had called for the re-initiation of long term economic planning as we had in the early 1960s in time of TK Whitaker and other national greats who led us forward.

Only in recent weeks the new Secretary General in Dept of Finance John Moran  announced that a new economic unit was being set up to better plan not only our economic recovery but to look beyond that phase of national development in the future. John Moran had recently been recruited into the public service from the private sector where among other things he ran a series of juice bars in the South of France. He was thus bringing lateral thinking and a welcome business acumen to the work of Government. He also represents a shift from the past less regulated thinking that practically brought the country to its knees. Well done to Minister Noonan who appointed him and to Minister Howlin who appointed a man of similar background and calibre in Robert Watt as Secretary General in the new Dept of Public Expenditure and Reform.

2. In Education I called for a new 'joined up thinking' between primary and secondary education in all subjects but particularly in Maths teaching and learning.

The new Junior Cycle reform agenda being planned by Minister Quinn includes for reconfiguring that transition between 5th and 6th class in Primary school and 1st year in Secondary school. Previously as we pointed out in our 2010 Maths and Science Report there is no 'end of school assessment or report card' at the end of Primary to give any guidance  to the secondary teachers on their new pupils which I found to be odd in the extreme and not resource efficient in terms of teaching and learning. Happily the new Junior Cycle curriculum 'Innovation and Identity' recognises this failing and seeks to correct it. Increasingly it is becoming obvious that it is at Junior Cycle that most of the issue with Maths learning exists as the unqualified Maths teachers are usually sent into this cycle and those better qualified sent into the Leaving Cert classes. The sooner the better this whole Maths situation gets rectified as it will take at least a generation for the new learning processes to embed.

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