New Engineers Ireland president stresses need for investment in infrastructure
02 June 2017
Dr Kieran Feighan (right) receives the presidential chain from outgoing president Dermot Byrne
Engineers Ireland’s new president, Dr Kieran Feighan, said he intended to set out the case for increased investment in Ireland’s key productive infrastructure areas during his tenure – in maintenance and improvement of existing infrastructure assets and also in badly needed new capital investment.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual general meeting in 22 Clyde Road on 31 May, Feighan stressed the importance of pressing the case for a National Infrastructure Commission, “to develop and support the case for cross-departmental co-ordination of major capital projects, and to support the goals and development of the new National Planning Framework”.
He added: “The Ireland 2040 plan will be a hugely important document in laying out the framework for future development and investment in Ireland. I’m representing Engineers Ireland on the Advisory Group of Ireland 2040, and will continue to do so through the coming year.”
Dr Feighan is a chartered engineer, a Fellow of Engineers Ireland by presidential invitation, and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He holds a BE (First Hons) degree in civil engineering from University College Galway and was awarded the NUI Bursary in Civil Engineering in 1983, which he used to earn a master’s degree in civil engineering (1985) and a PhD in transportation engineering (1988) from Purdue University, Indiana. Prior to returning to Ireland, he worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers Research Laboratory and with a specialised pavement engineering firm in Champaign, Illinois.
He is the founder and managing director of consulting engineering company PMS Pavement Management Services Ltd. He has published over thirty papers in academic journals and conference proceedings in the pavements area and has lectured for over 15 years at UCD, Trinity and NUI Galway in engineering and business. The new president is currently a member of Executive in Engineers Ireland. He is a past chair of the Civil Division and a long-standing committee member of the Roads and Transportation Society.
Feighan paid tribute to outgoing president Dermot Byrne, “who committed a huge amount of his valuable time and invaluable experience to sustaining and improving Engineers Ireland across a wide range of topics”. He also thanked Bill Grimson (president 2015-16) and vice president Peter Quinn, and welcomed Marguerite Sayers, CEO of ESB International, as the second vice-president of the organisation.
In a deeply personal speech, the new president (by his calculations, he is the 125th president of the organisation) paid tribute to his wife Prof Aisling Reynolds-Feighan, a transport economist in UCD; his three children, Brian, Ciara and Eoin; his mother Máirín; sisters Máirín and Anne; and brother Aidan – along with the colleagues, former colleagues and employers who have inspired him along the way. Indeed, former colleague Katie Zimmerman, who flew in from Chicago for the occasion, first worked with Feighan over 30 years ago in the US and became a member of Engineers Ireland this year so she could officially attend the AGM.
He also stressed the importance of strong role models for young people, citing the life-changing influence of his teachers and lecturers and, of course, his own father Oliver Feighan, who was president of Engineers Ireland in 1984-85. “I’m very proud and fortunate to say that we’re only the second father-son presidential combination in the long history of this great Institution,” he added.
By way of giving back to the engineering profession and acknowledging his family’s proud history of involvement with it, Máirín Feighan presented a gift to Engineers Ireland – a green vice-president’s sash, adorned with a sterling-silver medallion depicting the original crest from the organisation’s founding days back in 1835 (which forms the centrepiece of the presidential chain). The medallion was specially commissioned from Thomas Fattorini Ltd in Birmingham, a family firm specialising in the production of insignia, honours and awards since 1827.
“I’m so pleased to see that the willingness to back yourself and believe in yourself is so much stronger [nowadays] in our engineering companies and our young engineers… We need to nurture and encourage our connections so that Engineers Ireland become the natural home for our engineers on graduation and throughout their professional lives. I’m fully committed to helping the roll-out of this new approach in the coming year,” the new president concluded.
Other speakers on the night included outgoing president Dermot Byrne, who outlined his highlights from his term in his President’s Review for the 2016-17 session. He asked for a minute’s silence for members of the profession who passed away over the past year, with special mention made of five engineers who had particularly strong relationships with the organisation:
- Michael Higgins, former president of Engineers Ireland;
- Patrick Hennigan, chair of Central Council of Cumann na n-Innealtóirí 1965-66 and former member of the Membership and Qualifications Board;
- Timothy Brick, director general of the Irish Academy of Engineering;
- Dr TK Whitaker, Honorary Fellow of Engineers Ireland; and
- Karen Fenton, who was an active member of Project Management Society.
Before he concluded, Byrne noted the sad loss in November of Michael Higgins, as mentioned above. “A Chartered Fellow of Engineers Ireland and a European Engineer (EUR ING), Michael served on Council and the Executive and was president of Engineers Ireland from 1991 to 1992,” he said. “He was a founding Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering (1997) and for many years served as its honorary secretary. It’s particularly on nights like this that we feel his loss – his very presence made you feel welcome.”
Engineers Ireland director general Caroline Spillane presented the Financial Report and the Statement of Accounts for the calendar year 2016, as well as the Director General’s Report 2016. Vice president Peter Quinn presented the results of the Council Elections and declared the members elected to Council for the three-year term 2017/2018 – 2019/2020:
- Clare Duffy;
- Jamie Goggins;
- Orla Lonergan; and
- John McCarthy.