‘Where there is no engineer’ event, DIT Grangegorman
Tuesday Jan 19 2016
Thanks for inviting me this evening. I spent some years in East Africa in the 1980s and later I was Minister for Overseas Aid. So the issues that feature in tonight’s event are familiar to me personally and I am very pleased to participate and to encourage students and staff of our third level institutes to get engaged in this project.
I am also delighted to be back in Grangegorman and to see how the overall DIT project is progressing.
I was a staff member of the DIT for 20 years and the Grangegorman scheme was a never ending topic of conversation though few really believed it would ever come to fruition.
Today it one of the flagship projects that highlight what Ireland’s economic recovery means in practice.
One of the really sad features of the country’s collapse 7 or 8 years ago was the loss of job opportunities for graduates and the consequent flow of young people away from Ireland in search of jobs.
Today that has changed completely and the latest report for all the colleges is that many graduates have a choice of jobs available to them when they complete college.
Hence the importance of proceeding with this and many other expansion projects at third level and also the revised welcome expansion of apprenticeships.
Within individual engineering courses I believe it is important to identify the long term challenges that face every country and to encourage students to think creatively about solutions.
Climate change , clean water supply , renewable energy, energy conservation, natural resource management, food security, nutrition are all particular issues that could benefit from creative thinking.
So I welcome any initiative that places development issues on the learning agenda of engineering students.
Even the smallest communities of the most remote areas of Africa and Asia produce problems that require knowledge based solutions and equally it is those individual micro problems that offer the best challenges to a young enquiring mind.
Last Year’s competition was based in a Kenyan Village. This year the focus is on Nepal and I welcome the members of Ireland’s Nepalese community who are here this evening.
I have known very few people who went to work in the developing world who did not relish the excitement of that experience. For most it changed their lives and attitudes.
It certainly did for me.
I recall one sharp comment by an American politician who made this remark.
“All we know about the new economic world tells us that nations which train engineers will prevail over those which train lawyers. No nation has ever sued its way to greatness. ”
So I am again very happy to be here in the DIT to wish this project every success.