Sustainable approaches in engineering, digitalisation within the sector including cyber security, and the role that engineers can play in the recovery of the economy post Covid-19 and Brexit, will be the topics discussed at Engineers Ireland’s 2021 National Conference taking place today, Wednesday.

Themed Engineering in a new world: digital and sustainable solutions for society, conference session speakers will discuss the recovery of Ireland’s economy, and how engineers can contribute to social, environmental and economic development. Engineering companies/firms presenting will also focus on best practice from a sustainability perspective and in the use of digital technology.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Director General of Engineers Ireland, Caroline Spillane, said: “The challenges we face, in providing sustainable solutions, in improved efficiency or making use of digital technologies, will all require and benefit from engineering.  And Engineers Ireland is committed to ensuring our members can lead on sustainable development and are encouraged in their roles to be drivers of a more sustainable, green and digital future.”

Professor Orla Feely, President of Engineers Ireland, added: “Our 12.5 per cent corporation tax, along with other elements of the national tax environment, has been a key differentiator for Ireland.  One problem with the strength of this tax policy is that too many people, within and outside the country, have come to believe that it is not just a component of our national offering but that it is our national offering. This minimises and misrepresents what we have achieved within industry in Ireland over recent decades and clouds what we can achieve in the future.

“It is a time to be strategic. In my experience we are at our strongest when we address matters as a system, bringing all relevant minds to bear on identifying the way forward and I believe that we need such a conversation now. We have an enormous amount on which to build but we need to think, drawing from our considerable expertise and a position that is the envy of many, about the elements that need to be in place to support future success.  Our conference theme and the information that will be exchanged today is timely in this respect. Post Covid-19 and Brexit, and with the challenge of climate change, the expertise of engineers will be very important in finding practical and cost-effective solutions to the significant societal issues we will face now and into the future.  Sustainability needs to be at the forefront of our minds,” she added.

Professor Orla Feely also said: “With digitalisation an integral part now of our engineering sector, today’s engineers need to be all-rounders. Digitalisation is transforming how and where we live, work and learn.  Digital and data infrastructure and defences against cyberthreats are also vital.”

Hundreds of engineers will hear talks and presentations online from speakers including from economist, David McWilliams; Alliance Party Leader in Northern Ireland, Naomi Long, MLA; Leo Clancy, the new CEO of Enterprise Ireland and Linda Doyle, President and Provost at Trinity College Dublin. Provost Doyle, Leo Clancy and Minister Long are all engineers.  There will also be contributions from Paddy Hayes, the new CEO of ESB; Peter Walsh, CEO of Transport Infrastructure Ireland; Vivian Farrell, CEO of Modular Automation and Cathy Cronin, Senior Environment Health and Safety Engineer at Intel Ireland.

International speakers include Mathew Vola, Arup Structural Engineer, who will present on the Netherland’s tallest wooden residential building and Nicola La, Associate Director, Atkins Hong Kong, who will give her perspective on cycle paths and their utilisation in Hong Kong’s New Territories. Cyber security advice will be shared by Brian Martin, Head of Product, Strategy and Innovation at Integrity 360 – one of Ireland’s largest cyber security firms. Procad’s Cormac Lyons will speak about how design tech is improving manufacturing in Ireland.