Tuesday, October 6, 2009

IEEE and Engineers Ireland National Society Agreement

I attended the official ceremony in London today,  along with John Power and Catherine O'Sullivan (head of our UK region and Council member),  of a co-operation agreement with the IEEE.   The co-signatory with me was John Vig,  President of the IEEE.

Both Engineers Ireland and the IEEE (via the US Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) were founding signatories of the Washington Accord in 1989,  which now covers 13 nations with a further 4 on provisional status.   The Accord achieves mutual recognition of accredited academic degree programmes necessary as a prerequisite,  in each signatory territory,  for professional engineering status.   Nevertheless,  a direct link and co-operation agreement with the IEEE should provide a basis for further co-operation.   The Agreement signed today was rather general in scope,  but we will both be following through to seek advantages for our members.   I am also particularly thankful to Dr John McLoone,  of NUIM Maynooth,  and who is the current IEEE President for region comprising the Republic of Ireland and the UK,  who catalysed the co-operation agreement.

The ceremony was hosted at the Royal Institution,   which includes the laboratories where Michael Faraday conducted his experiments.  There is a fascinating museum of scientific exhibits in the basement,  including work by John Tyndall,  after whom the Tyndall Institute in Cork is of course named. 

The IEEE celebrated its 125th anniversary on May 13th last,  and John Vig was in London to celebrate with the EMEA region of the IEEE.   But as John himself noted,    it is of course Engineers Ireland's 175th anniversary next year...

For the record,  I attach my short speech below:

"Dr Vig,  members of the IEEE and of Engineers Ireland,  ladies and gentlemen,

It is a sincere honour for me to represent Engineers Ireland this afternoon at this National Society Agreement.   I warmly congratulate the IEEE on their 125th anniversary on May 13th last.  Although this is a National Society Agreement,  I do note that in fact the IEEE represents itself as a global organization,  and so perhaps this is in some sense a Worldwide Society Agreement.

I am also particularly pleased to meet John Vig,  who not only has been awarded 55 patents,  published more than 100 papers,  and nine book chapters,  but also was deeply influential in establishing the IEEE Sensors Council,  and its associated journal.   And,  as I have observed courtesy of the internet,  John is also a very accomplished ballroom dancer!

Unlike the IEEE,  Engineers Ireland represents in a single organization all facets of professional engineering.   We have a number of divisions,  including electrical and electronic,  and – separately – information and communication technologies.   We also have a number of societies,  working across multiple technology sectors,   such as project management,  and water and the environment.  As John noted,  we celebrate our 175th anniversary next year.

Both Engineers Ireland and the US Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology were founding signatories of the Washington Accord in 1989.  As I understand it,  the US ABET is an umbrella organization for accrediting engineering courses within the USA,  and includes the IEEE as a founding member in 1932.  The Washington Accord is now signed by Australia,  Canada,  Hong Kong,  Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand,  Republic of Ireland, Singapore, South Africa,  South Korea,  Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States.   Germany,  India,  Russia and Sri Lanka are also provisional members. Graduates of accredited programs in any of the signatory countries are recognized by the other signatory countries,  as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of professional engineering.    The Agreement between the IEEE and Engineers Ireland today extends our friendship beyond the provisions of the Washington Accord,   and fosters further collaboration between us.

At a time when technology is becoming more complex and intricate,  and when our global society faces new challenges in sustainable environments,  it is particularly important that professional engineers take a strong lead and are recognized by governments and society at large for safe design,  and careful operation,  of technology systems.   Unprofessional and poorly skilled engineers can place the public at risk.   High professional standards are required and,  in a global world,  mutual recognition of those high standards demanded by national engineering organizations,  such as the IEEE and Engineers Ireland,  facilitate engagement and true international teamwork.

I am delighted that the IEEE and Engineers Ireland are initiating a stronger and further co-operative relationship between us,  and I look forward to highly fruitful friendship."

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