Industry Forum

Industry Perspectives on Educating Contemporary Engineering Graduates for Sustainability

The EESD2021 ‘Industry Forum’ (Wed, 16th June 2021, 10-11am (UTC+1)) features a number of industry stakeholders from some key sectors operating in the Cork region and in broader national and international contexts.

The Forum is Chaired by Dr John Hayes of UCC School of Engineering and Architecture, and will feature Conor Healy, ESB, Orla Cronin and Brian Kearney of AbbVie, and Cork County Engineer Kevin Morey.

Panelists will reflect on and discuss the sustainability related knowledge, skills, and values that contemporary graduates require, based on their own educational experience, professional practice and on evolving contemporary societal imperatives and industry norms, for graduates (engineers, architects and planners), who will work up to and beyond the middle of the current century.

The reality is that engineers rarely or never work on projects which are merely just in the technical domain, but also encompass economic, societal, environmental and ethical domains, oftentimes with a high degree of uncertainty, and increasingly working in multi- and transdisciplinary settings and teams; just look at the COVID-19 pandemic!

A dialogue with delegates, drawing on their own insights and experiences, will ensue to tease out some of the issues, hurdles and opportunities that arise, including around sustainability related attributes, and graduate, academic and industry imperatives.

Given the context of EESD2021, the Cork Harbour region will be taken as a case study.

This region has significant engineering activity and employment, including a high concentration of industry (particularly bio/pharmaceutical and food), served by local higher education institutions/universities and research centres (e.g. MaREI, Ireland’s national Marine and Renewable Energy Research Centre) and a broad mix of rural, urban and naval.

The region has significant growth potential in the years and decades ahead, but it also requires transformation and resilience in terms of energy systems, transportation, planning and other societal and socio-technical issues, each of which are intertwined with issues around climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, all requiring broader productive public engagement and dialogue.

– What therefore is the appropriate skillset of the mid twenty first century engineer in this context?

– What role can today’s educators and industry stakeholders play in facilitating the ‘fit-for-purpose’ engineer? In doing so, what are the win-win situations, and are there more problematic areas?

– How might the experiences of Cork and those of other regions of the world, be used to learn from each other on this journey?