Monday, July 20, 2009

Chinese Academy of Engineering

We had a visit from the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) this morning at Clyde Road, led by their Vice President, Prof. Pan Yunhe who in turn was a software academic and prior head of Zhejiang University. From our side, we had Jack Golden, representing the Irish Academy of Engineering and its Vice-President; John Power, Director General; Damien Owens, from the ICT Division, and myself.

The CAE was formed in 1994 in Beijing as an independent, not-for-profit organisation to represent Engineering perspectives to the Chinese Government. It is limited to 1,000 elected & nominated members: it currently has 711 domestic members, and 32 foreign honorary members (no Irish at this time). It has a secretariat of 70. Its general assembly meets every 2 years. It has a Governing Board, 9 Divisions and 7 Committees. The Divisions and Committees are somewhat similar to our own in focus, but unlike us it does have a Division on Agriculture (ie Engineering in Agriculture), and on Medical Systems.

It conducts strategic studies which influence national Chinese technology policy and to vet and review major engineering projects. Recent major national studies include water infrastructure; renewable energy; population trends and the consequences for urbanisation; environmental protection; and disaster management (in the light of the Wuchen earthquake and separately the Guangdong snows, both in 2008).

It has 20 international co-operation agreements with Engineering Academies worldwide. Mr Cheng, deputy DG of international co-operation, noted a particularly longstanding and mutually fruitful co-operation with the Swedish Academy which has included joint study groups on renewable energy, and environmental protection. There have been student exchanges, and bilateral secondment of student engineers into industry positions for work experience. In oher cases - the UK and USA - there have been Young Engineer seminars on a bilateral basis.

We expressed a strong desire to put a formal agreement in place between Ireland and China which could support such activities, but noted that in the current national fiscal environment it may be very difficult to finding Government funding pro rata equivalent to the support of the Chinese government to the CAE. Jack Golden, as VP of the IAE, will be leading a delegation to Beijing next year.

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