Speaker: Regina Moran, CEO of Fujitsu and president of Engineers Ireland. Author: Mary Anne Carrigan, editor, EngineersJournal.ie Engineers Ireland must work hard to attract software engineers and encourage more women into the profession and the organisation itself, according to Regina Moran, newly appointed president of Engineers Ireland. Moran, who is chief executive offer of Japanese multinational Fujitsu, was officially appointed as president at Engineers Ireland’s 2014 Annual General Meeting, which took place on Thursday the 29th of May. Dermot Byrne was also welcomed as incoming vice-president. Moran, who hails from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, began her career as an electronics engineer. In her inaugural speech last week, she spoke of the convergence and collaboration between all forms of engineering and technology. “There’s a collision between the physical and the digital world, which is creating many opportunities for all of us in the engineering and technology sectors. For example, you can’t design and build the Samuel Beckett Bridge without technology and you can’t design a smartphone application without engineering can’t build the Samuel Beckett Bridge without technology, and you can’t design a smartphone application without engineering,” she said. The technology sector in Ireland directly employs over 105,000 people, with 75% employed in multinational companies and the remainder in the indigenous digital technology sector. In the last three years alone, technology companies have announced more than 17,500 jobs. The sector is responsible for 40% of our national exports and is home to all of the top ten global technology companies. Ireland is emerging as a global technology hub. “Fujitsu, where I have worked for more than 25 years, is part of this sector. It has a vision of a ‘human-centric, intelligent society’ with engineering at its core,” said Moran. “In fact, Fujitsu was founded as an engineering firm in response to the great Kanto earthquake in 1923. And this continues through to today – during the crisis at the Fukashima nuclear plant, the Fujitsu president made all engineers available 24 hours a day, to repair data centres, to get telecommunication back online, to use engineering skills wherever possible. Engineering solves the most difficult human problems.” CONVERGENCE OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY The new president said that ‘Convergence of Engineering and Technology’ was to be one of the themes for her presidential year, with a view to increasing Engineers Ireland’s membership base within the technology sector. Another theme, she added, was to be ‘Women in Engineering’. “To quote the great Isaac Newton, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ I’m following humbly in the footsteps of the previous two female presidents of Engineers Ireland – Anne Butler and Jane Grimson. There have been just women presidents in 178 years. We must attract more young women into engineering,” she said. Last year’s Engineering Perspectives report gives an insight into the evolving engineering profession in Ireland, she continued. “On average, the ratio of men to women in engineering was 9:1, whereas one-fifth of all respondents in this survey were women. Of these, half were under the age of 35. This is a positive signal that more women are choosing a career in engineering as they recognise the variety of opportunities available in critical areas such as technology, energy and life sciences. It shows a very promising gender balance shift in the engineering landscape in Ireland. We must build on this and encourage young students, especially young women, to explore opportunities in engineering heartening to see that programmes like the STEPS schools outreach programme are producing results.” Moran said that in a recent report, it was reported that 44% of secondary-school students believe that STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects were more suited to males than females, however. She said that a lack of female role models, and a lack of encouragement from parents and teachers in this sector, contributed to these negative perceptions. “As an organisation, we’ve a strong role to play in the promotion of our profession. My plan is to visit schools across the country, promoting our profession and capturing the imagination of young people – and specifically young women. I intend to enlist the help of STEPS and use their extensive experience with schools around the country. I’ve had recent experience with this in the work Fujitsu has done with Rush Community School as part of Business in the Community’s schools/business programme.” The challenge is to describe ‘engineering’ to young people and their parents, she continued. “There are about 20 types of engineering – from aerospace to agricultural, from electrical to environmental, from civil to chemical and many more. Increasingly, technology is embedded in all forms of engineering. In working together across all our sectors, we’ll use the power of engineering to create social innovation that will give rise to solutions in the fields of energy, transportation, food, health, the environment and education.” Moran said that engineers are the only people on the planet who are going to tackle the ‘big issues’ like population growth, food, global warming, energy and water. PROMOTING THE PROFESSION OF ENGINEERING Back in 2005, Anne Butler, in her inauguration speech said that her main priority for her year ahead was to promote the profession. The new president said that message was still as relevant almost ten years on. “We need to get the message out that engineering is a good career choice, that it offers exciting prospects and that engineers shape the world we live in. It’s also an extraordinary varied career, offering immense choice and opportunities. It’s also a superb training for moving to other careers,” she said. “Our members come from all branches of engineering and I’m very proud of our organisation. We have many committed volunteers,” the new president continued. “I had the recent experience of being at a liaison committee meeting on a Saturday in Clyde Road. It surprised and delighted me how people travelled from all over the country, from as far away as Kerry, giving freely their own time to contribute and share to promote Engineering in Ireland. The huge commitment of both the staff of Engineers Ireland and so many volunteers is to be commended.” Moran went on to outline the most urgent priorities for Engineers Ireland in the short to medium term. She said that the membership base must be expanded into the growing technology sector and that Engineers Ireland must work hard to increase the participation rate of females in the engineering profession and in the organisation itself. “We need to work with the council and the executive on the strategic issues facing Engineers Ireland and determine our future direction,” the new president concluded.