Irish engineers represented on the world stage at IEA annual meeting
01 August 2017
Engineers Ireland registrar Damien Owens travelled to Alaska to represent Engineers Ireland at the recent International Engineering Alliance annual meeting, where Ireland helped to progress international agreements
The annual meeting of the International Engineering Alliance (IEA) was hosted from 18-23 June in Anchorage, Alaska, by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
The attendance comprised approximately 168 delegates from 27 countries representing professional engineering organisations and accreditation agencies – in many countries, the academic component (accreditation) and registration (competence development) of professional engineers are overseen by different bodies. Representing Engineers Ireland at the meeting were registrar Damien Owens and Prof Cyril Burkley, chair of the Accreditation Board.
Many engineers are familiar with the Washington Accord, which was signed in 1989 and comprised six signatories, including Engineers Ireland. The Accord recognises the substantial equivalence of engineering education required for the formation of professional engineer.
The IEA was formed more recently as an umbrella body to oversee the development of a suite of Accords and Agreements that includes 24 signatories across three Accords and five Agreements. Many of the signatories are G8 and G20 members and therefore represent the engineering profession in heavily industrialised economies that rely on engineering talent and ingenuity to stay competitive.
The International Engineering Alliance is an organisation that works to advance benchmarking and mobility in the engineering profession. It meets every year to progress international agreements.
There are six international agreements governing mutual recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence. In each of these agreements, countries/economies who wish to participate may apply for membership and, if accepted, become members or signatories to the agreement. The body making application must verify that it is the appropriate representative body for that country.
Agreements and accords for engineering
- Accords covering tertiary education qualifications in engineering:
There are three Accords covering mutual recognition in respect of tertiary-level academic engineering qualifications:
1. The Washington Accord
2. The Sydney Accord
3. The Dublin Accord
- Agreements covering competence for practising engineers:
The agreements cover recognition of equivalence at the practising engineer level, i.e. it is individual people, not qualifications, that are seen to meet the benchmark exemplars. The concept of these agreements is that a person recognised in one country as reaching the agreed international standard of competence should only be minimally assessed (primarily for local knowledge) prior to obtaining registration in another country that is party to the agreement.
1. APEC Engineer agreement
2. International Professional Engineers Agreement (IPEA)
3. The International Engineering Technologist Mobility Forum agreement (IETA)
4. Agreement for International Engineering Technicians (AIET) – this is the first meeting.
It is important to understand that the agreements are based on determination of substantial equivalence, using agreed exemplars. In practice, what this means is if an engineer holding an accredited engineering qualification under one of the Accords comes to Ireland, then Engineers Ireland will recognise the qualification as substantially equivalent to an accredited Irish engineering qualification.
Similarly, an engineer recognised under one of the Accords will have their professional experience recognised by other signatories.
The work of the meeting
The week-long meeting is structured around discussions on each agreement in turn, updating each agreement, approving new signatories and reviewing existing signatories. Decisions generally require unanimity among members.
Given the global nature of the event, it is likely that at any point in time at least three quarters of the attendees are significantly out of their time zone and English is not their mother tongue. Far from being drawbacks, the global mix provides a richness of contributions and perspectives on topics that has enabled great progress in the transnational recognition of engineers, engineering technologists and technicians.
Since the establishment of the Washington Accord, this formula has delivered a set of supports for global mobility that is the envy of other professions.
At the meeting, Engineers Ireland was granted a further six years’ membership under the Washington Accord 2017-2022 for Bachelor honours degrees (level 8) and Master degrees (level 9). Also, Engineers Ireland was accepted as a founding member of the Agreement for International Engineering Technicians (AIET) – this allows for mutual recognition of Eng Tech members from the signatory jurisdictions.
Damien Owens was elected chair of the Dublin Accord for the period 2017-2019.
Contribution of Engineers Ireland’s members
Our members make significant contribution to the work of the IEA through periodic assessment visits to other signatories. These reviews typically last a week and involve the observation of accreditation visits at least two third-level colleges, assessing the accreditation standards and processes of the signatories and observing meetings of their accreditation panels and boards.
More recently, Engineers Ireland members have undertaken a number of reviews of other signatories, including:
- Dr Eddie Jones NUI Galway, who assessed South Africa for Washington Accord review;
- Damien Owens, who was in Hong Kong its for Sydney Accord review;
- Maria Kyne of Limerick Institute of Technology, who assessed Canada for AIET review;
- Peter Roche, industry consultant, who assessed the Engineering Council UK for Dublin Accord review;
- Prof David Kennedy, Dublin Institute of Technology, who reviewed the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka for Sydney Accord membership.
In addition, Engineers Ireland is mentoring Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica (CFIA) as part of its application for Washington Accord. Dr Jorge Oliveira (University College Cork) recently undertook an accreditation visit to Costa Rica to support CFIA. We are also supporting the application for the International Professional Engineers Agreement by the Royal Netherlands Society of Engineers (KIVI).
Engineers Ireland also participated in a follow-on meeting of the Seoul Accord, which provides similar accords but for computing and information technology disciplines. The attendance comprised approximately 29 delegates from eight countries representing professional computing associations such as the British Computer Society, Australian Computer Society, etc. Engineers Ireland’s status at the meeting was as a provisional member.
The hosting of the meetings rotates among the signatories and Engineers Ireland signalled its intent to host the meetings in Ireland in 2021. Engineers Ireland last hosted the meeting in Clyde Road in 2002, when the Dublin Accord was signed. The increased membership of the IEA and global recognition of its work means that a much larger venue will be needed – but that, after all, is the price of success!http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2017/08/01/international-engineering-alliance-meeting-ireland/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/anchorage-alaska-1024x622.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/anchorage-alaska-300x300.jpgNewseducation,Engineers Ireland