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2022: A year of opportunity for the engineering profession

Professor Orla Feely, president of Engineers Ireland, recognises the achievements of Ireland’s engineering community and the opportunities that exist for the sector in 2022

Professor Orla Feely, President of Engineers Ireland.

Professor Orla Feely, president of Engineers Ireland

 

2021 was a tumultuous year for all, including those in the engineering sector. Despite the many obstacles that arose, Ireland’s engineers delivered a significant number of technical and innovative projects in the most challenging of environments.

Engineers Ireland has celebrated these engineering achievements and feats of engineering skill as part of our six-part Engineering Excellence Digital Series, held in association with ESB.

From millimetre-precise delivery on complex construction projects to grand-scale thinking and innovation to support our environment and climate ambitions, our video series recognises the talent behind projects delivered in the fields of innovation, impact, sustainability, buildings and structures, and infrastructure in 2021. The series also recognises the positive impact that engineers have made to society, with Engineers Ireland’s Engineer of the Year, Aisling Hahessy, and her impactful work on humanitarian and volunteer projects in Ireland and overseas also featuring in the series.

We encourage the public and our engineering community to explore the series and to witness the scale, complexity and ambitious nature of projects being undertaken by Ireland’s engineering community. Having featured in the series and on foot of a public vote, the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project was heralded the top engineering project of 2021 and awarded the title of Engineering Endeavour of 2021.

This project, delivered by Irish Water, is a testament to how engineers have a vital role to play to protect our environment and support our communities.

Following seven years of extensive engineering works and completed in September 2021, the drainage scheme now prevents the equivalent of 40,000 wheelie bins of raw sewage from Ringaskiddy, Carrigaline, Crosshaven, Passage West, Monkstown and Cobh Town being discharged untreated each day into Cork Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world.

The engineering prowess required to complete this project was clearly evident. In addition to constructing a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant in Shanbally, Cork, the project also involved two of the longest horizontal directional drills ever undertaken in Ireland to install sewer pipes over 1km long, some 60m below the Lee Estuary.

Worthy of particular note is the positive impact that the Cork Lower Harbour Main Drainage Project has had on the local community. Over 20,000 businesses and homes are now connected to the new wastewater scheme, which will protect the environment and support the sustainable development and growth of local communities.

As we look ahead to 2022, a number of the big challenges we face, including those arising from climate change, will require and benefit from engineering solutions

Celebrating the impactful achievements of Ireland’s engineering talent is just one of many ways in which Engineers Ireland showcases the diversity of the profession and the vital role engineers play to deliver creative and sustainable solutions for modern society.

Our celebration serves as an acknowledgment of the excellent work undertaken by Ireland’s engineering talent and its positive impact on society. It also provides inspiration for those considering careers in the engineering profession.

As we look ahead to 2022, a number of the big challenges we face, including those arising from climate change, will require and benefit from engineering solutions. Projects such as Ireland’s greenway networks, the expansion and electrification of our rail fleet, and the further development of sustainable energy solutions - which will all develop Ireland’s societal and economic infrastructure – fundamentally depend on engineering expertise.

Therefore, it is critical that we continue to cultivate technical skills nationally and nurture our future engineering talent to meet the needs of society and to meet the ambitions of Project Ireland 2040.

As we look to the months ahead, students across the country will be afforded the opportunity to get involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths) activities through the Engineers Ireland Steps programme, Ireland’s only STEM outreach programme with a focus on engineering.

From primary school competitions for third and fourth class students, to work placement opportunities for Transition Year students, the Steps programme is comprised of four key pillars which involve engineering professionals and students to help bring these exciting and immersive engineering experiences to life.

Steps Engineers Week, taking place from March 5th to 11th 2022, is a key initiative of the Steps programme, and with the assistance of engineering businesses, third level institutions, local authorities, and schools across Ireland, we hope to make this year’s week-long campaign the largest ever celebration of the profession.

I encourage members of the engineering profession to take an active role and participate in this week-long campaign. By inspiring Ireland’s future engineering talent, volunteers can support and encourage young people to find out more about the profession and how they too can play a pivotal role in transforming communities.

To view the Engineering Excellence Digital Series, held in association with ESB and supported by Accenture and Geoscience Ireland, and for more information on STEPS Engineers Week, visit www.engineersireland.ie