National Conference

Engineers Ireland's 2022 National Conference took place at the Convention Centre Dublin on Wednesday, 19 October. Members were encouraged to join us for this premiere learning and networking event. It was complimentary for members of Engineers Ireland to attend. 

With a title of Engineering in a time of challenge; innovation, decarbonisation and the role of engineers, Engineers Ireland’s National Conference showcaseed best practice deployed by ambitious engineering companies/firms or organisations with an engineering dimension, in progressing their business, with a focus on innovation and a net zero/reduced carbon objective.

As in previous years, our opening session featured thought leaders who will set the scene from a financial and economic perspective.


Engineers Ireland’s President John Power opened the event at 9:30am on 19 October and was joined by:


Michael McGrath TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform


 ,Dr. Eddie O'Connor, Chair of SuperNode, who has pioneered the concept of the SuperGrid in response to the challenge of decarbonising electricity generation in Europe


Professor John Fitzgerald, Economist and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Trinity College Dublin and member of the Climate Change Advisory Council


Róisín Quinn, OBE, Electrical Engineer, Director of Customer Connections, National Grid, Great Britain


Paul Stein, CBE, Chairman, Rolls Royce, Small Modular Reactors; Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Former Director General, Science and Technology, UK Ministry of Defence


Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz, Ceng, Lecturer in Energy Systems Engineering at University of Galway and Director of Ireland’s new National Construction Technology Centre

Michael Quinn, Director of Engineering, Ardmac on modern methods of construction


Dr Meadhbh Connolly, engineer and Senior Manager, Future Opportunities in ESB Generation & Trading. She has a particular focus on Renewable H2 in delivering “Net Zero 2040”, a part of ESB's new strategy


Dr Val Cummins, Managing Director, Emerald and Western Star floating wind joint venture partnerships between the Simply Blue Group and Shell. Simply Blue is a blue economy developer, with a focus on floating wind, wave and low impact aquaculture


Matias Johansson, Chief Financial Officer, Länsimetro (the West Metro) which extends the Helsinki metropolitan subway system by 13 new stations, which is due to open very soon. The West Metro is a joint project of the cities of Espoo and Helsinki with annual revenue of over €120m and a total CAPEX of over €2b

Full speaker biographies

Session 1

Michael McGrath, TD

Michael McGrath is currently a TD for Cork South Central and is the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.  Michael grew up in the harbour town of Passage West in County Cork. Before entering national politics, Michael served in local government as a member of Passage West Town Council and Cork County Council (Carrigaline electoral area). He was elected to Dáil Éireann at the first attempt in 2007 and has been re-elected in every election since (2011, 2016 and 2020).

Michael secured a first-class honours Commerce degree in UCC and went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in Cork City. Before going into politics full time, Michael held senior positions including at UCC as Head of Management Information Systems. 

Professor John FitzGerald

Professor John FitzGerald is an Adjunct Professor in Economics at Trinity College Dublin. He is a former Research Professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). Over his career in the ESRI he published extensively in the fields of macro-economics, energy economics and environmental economics. John FitzGerald is a member of the Government’s Climate Change Advisory Council and was its inaugural Chairperson from 2016 to 2020.  John has Masters degrees in History and Economics from University College Dublin. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Dr Eddie O’Connor

Dr O’Connor is the founding force behind SuperNode Ltd based in Dublin. SuperNode is a cutting-edge global technology development company that designs and delivers superconducting connection systems to connect renewable generation and increase grid interconnection in mature markets.  Dr O’ Connor pioneered the concept of the ‘SuperGrid’ in response to the challenge of decarbonising electricity generation in Europe and formulated the initial proposals for the SuperGrid in 2001, which resulted in the establishment of ‘The Friends of the SuperGrid’ (FOSG), the precursor to much of the consortia that have moved the concept forward since then.  

A lifelong career in the energy sector in Ireland, Dr O’Connor worked for ESB and Bord na Mona before he founded Airtricity in 1998 which, within ten years, became a leading global renewable energy company with developments throughout Europe and North America. Airtricity was sold in 2008 to E.on and Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) for €1.8 billion.  In 2008, Dr O’Connor set up Mainstream Renewable Power, which he also developed into a leading global renewable energy company with projects spanning across 5 continents. Mainstream was sold to Aker Horizons in 2021.

Paul Stein, CBE

Paul Stein is an engineer and Chairman of Rolls-Royce SMR Limited, the business established by Rolls-Royce to develop and manufacture low-cost nuclear power.  Prior to this, Paul was the Chief Technology Officer of Rolls-Royce plc, responsible for the Group’s technology strategy and balance of engineering and technology investment.

Before joining Rolls-Royce in 2010, Paul was the Director General, Science and Technology, in the Ministry of Defence responsible for the UK’s national investment in defence science and technology.

Leading up to 2006, Paul had many years of experience in the communications and electronics industries including technology leadership positions with Siemens, Thales and Philips.

Paul serves on several Government advisory committees including an appointment in March 2020 to the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.

Paul was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2022 Late Queen Elizabeth’s Birthday Honours for services to British enterprise.  Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Institute of Engineering and Technology. Paul graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from King’s College London in 1978. 

Róisín Quinn, OBE

The National Grid own the high-voltage electricity transmission network in England and Wales. It is responsible for making sure electricity is transported safely and efficiently from where it's produced to where it's needed.  Róisín Quinn joined National Grid PLC’s graduate programme in 2004, after graduating with a first from University College Dublin and winning one of the Engineering Graduate Association Medals. Since then, she has held several senior leadership roles across the group, most recently as Director of Customer Connections for National Grid Electricity Transmission. Róisín is accountable for connecting customers to the network. This involves managing the customer journey and experience from first contact to construction of connection points, including revenue and billing. To respond to customers' needs in the current climate, this also requires identifying and progressing significant changes to established industry frameworks. 

Formally she was Head of National Control for National Grid ESO (Electricity System Operator), accountable for the real-time operation of Great Britain’s electricity system and the systems and processes that support it. She was also the ESO’s first Chief Engineer. 

In 2022 Róisin was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the Honorary awards to foreign nationals list announced as part of the late Queen Elizabeth II Birthday Honours, for services to the Electricity System, Energy Security and Decarbonisation.

Married with two children, she is also member of the Advisory Group for Imperial College’s Energy Futures Lab, a Trustee Director of the NGEG ESPS and Vice Chair of the Board of RenewableUK.

Session 2

Dr Meadhbh Connolly

Dr Meadhbh Connolly is the Senior Manager, Future Opportunities in ESB Generation & Trading, responsible for monitoring horizon level technology developments and policy trends to identify and assess the potential impact on energy markets and future investment opportunities. She has a particular focus on the role of renewable H2 in delivering “Net Zero 2040”, a core part of ESB's new strategy. Meadhbh has almost 30 years’ experience working in a wide range of roles within ESB Generation & Trading, ESB National Grid and ESB International. She holds a BE and a PhD in Engineering from University College Dublin.

Dr Val Cummins

Dr Val Cummins is Managing Director of the Emerald and Western Star floating wind joint venture partnerships between the Simply Blue Group and Shell. She joined Simply Blue as Ireland Projects Director in 2021. Simply Blue is a blue economy developer, with a focus on floating wind, wave and low impact aquaculture. Val’s move to industry was inspired by a desire to have an impact on the energy transition and to lead blue growth initiatives in a company that is dedicated to Sustainable Development Goals for the oceans and seas. This followed 21 years as a researcher and an ‘entrepreneurial academic’ in University College Cork, where she developed a track record in the field marine resource management, and was awarded for her leadership in building research capacity in marine science.  She now has responsibility for an international, multidisciplinary team from Shell and Simply Blue, working on the early-stage development of two major floating offshore wind farms; off the coast of Cork and Clare. She seeks to inculcate the values of integrity, diversity, courage, passion and responsibility in projects and processes, particularly in stakeholder relations. 

Val is working to influence future energy policy and supply chain development for floating wind in Ireland through her role as Chair of the Wind Energy Ireland FLOSH Committee (Floating offshore wind, supergrid and hydrogen); as a council member of Wind Energy Ireland; and a council member and non-executive director of the Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA). Val is an Eisenhower Fellow, and has participated in Women in Leadership executive training at Harvard University. She is co-editor of the Coastal Atlas of Ireland, published in 2021 and winner of the An Post Best Irish Published Book of the Year. A career highlight has been to serve as co-chair of Future Earth Coasts from 2016 to 2020, facilitating the development of a community of scientists and practitioners, including young scientists, from around the globe with a vision to support transformation to a sustainable and resilient future for society and nature on the coast.  She now serves as a member of the Future Earth Coast Academy. 

Session 3

Matias Johansson

Matias Johansson is an experienced corporate executive with a broad background in major construction projects, real estate development and environmental management. He has rebuilt organisations and processes for companies in crises and tendered for, won and executed some of the biggest infrastructure investment deals in Finland.  For almost 6 years, Matias has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Länsimetro (the West Metro) which extends the current Helsinki metropolitan subway system by 13 new stations and an underground train depot. Helsinki’s wider metropolitan area population is circa 1.4 million people and its metro system is in demand.  The West Metro is a joint project of the cities of Espoo and Helsinki with an annual revenue turnover of €120 million and a total CAPEX of over €2 billion.  As the CFO of the project, he is responsible for the financing, financial forecasting, reporting and control of the project.  He holds an Executive MBA from the Hanken School of Economics and a Master of Arts from the Freie Universität Berlin.

Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz

Dr Magdalena Hajdukiewicz is a Chartered Engineer, lecturer in Energy Systems Engineering at University of Galway and Director of Ireland's new National Construction Technology Centre.

Coordinated by the University of Galway and supported by Enterprise Ireland, the Construction Technology Centre also comprises of Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork and the Irish Green Building Council. The Centre’s vision is to make Ireland a global research and innovation leader for sustainable construction and built environment technology. The Centre brings together 22 multidisciplinary research groups across 5 partner institutions, with over 300 researchers currently research active on topics related to construction and built environment.

Magdalena’s research interests focus on sustainable built environment, building performance modelling and monitoring, computational fluid dynamics simulation, smart and sustainable construction. Magdalena is actively involved in Engineers Ireland’s West Region Committee (former Chair and representative on the Council of Engineers Ireland). She has an MEng in Structural Engineering from the Wrocław University of Science and Technology, Poland and received her PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Galway. 

Michael Quinn

Michael is a Chartered Engineer with over 20 years’ experience in leading multidisciplinary design and engineering teams in various sectors.  In his current role as Director of Engineering at Ardmac he oversees their architectural and engineering functions helping to deliver innovative engineering solutions for controlled environments to their Clients.  Michael has a keen focus on the development of team members, helping them to reach their full potential whilst also ensuring Ardmac continue to provide a ‘best-in-class’ service to their Clients.         

Michael is a Mechanical Engineering Graduate of UCD and holds a Master’s Degree in Project Management from the University of Limerick.

Session Chairs

John Power

John Power is an engineering graduate (1975) from University College Dublin (UCD), later completing a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering (MIE) and an MBA. Following graduation, he began working as a Technical Advisor with General Electric in the USA and South America. In 1978 John joined ESB, where over a 30-year career, he enjoyed a number of diverse roles in Engineering Management, Marketing and Corporate Change before becoming HR Manager in ESB Networks, Executive Director in ESBI, and finally, Head of ESB Corporate Affairs. 

A former Director General of Engineers Ireland (2007 - 2015), he greatly enhanced the profile of the profession by highlighting the contribution of engineering to the quality of all our lives.  He also promoted the title of Chartered Engineer and was instrumental in the inclusion of the CEng title in the revised building regulations. Other initiatives included raising the reputation of Irish engineering qualifications internationally and the requirement for a Masters degree or equivalent, to secure the title of Chartered Engineer. The first television advertisement, promoting the profession, was produced during his time.  During this period, John also chaired the International Centre for Graduate Education in Micro and Nano Engineering (ICGEE) and chaired the Rail Safety Advisory Council for seven years. He received the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland President’s Award in 2013. He is a Past President of the UCD Engineering Graduates Association.  John became a Fellow of Engineers Ireland in 1985.

Now practicing as an Executive Coach, John deploys his broad career experience supporting others.  He graduated with his Executive Coaching qualification from the UCD Smurfit Business School in 2016.  He is now an accredited Senior Executive Coach with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.   John serves as a Trustee of the Arup Charitable Trust and is a member of the Engineers Ireland Benevolent Fund committee. He was inaugurated as Vice-President of Engineers Ireland in June 2020. He became President of Engineers Ireland in June 2022. 

Damien Owens

Damien Owens is the Interim Director General of Engineers Ireland and also our Registrar. Damien graduated from Trinity College Dublin with Primary and Master’s Degree in engineering. He also has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Open University.  He is currently the Chair of the International Engineering Alliance.   Damien is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland.

Dr Maria Kyne

Dr Kyne is Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest.

She is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland and has worked as a civil engineer for over 30 years. Her professional experience began in a civil engineering consultancy in the UK before joining the University of Galway as a civil engineering lecturer. She lectured to civil, mechanical and electronic engineering students and moved to UL to lecture in project management. She continued her engineering education experience in the Technical University of the Shannon (TUS) as Lecturer, Head of Department and Head of Faculty. She is currently Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment in TUS. She is a member of the Engineers Ireland Accreditation Board, the Mid-West Regional Skills Forum, Explore Engineering Steering Committee, TUS Academic Council and the THEA Apprenticeship Committee.