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Conference to Showcase Ulster's Pioneering Engineering Research

18 August 2011

Pioneering research at the University of Ulster and the pivotal role engineering education plays in global development will be in the spotlight next week when several hundred delegates from 48 different countries attend the International Conference on Engineering Education (ICEE) in Belfast’s Waterfront.

ICEE–2011, hosted jointly by Ulster and the International Network on Engineering Education and Research, is an annual forum for academics and practitioners to meet, exchange ideas and explore ways to improve engineering practice to help tackle problems in the developing world.

Many of the world’s top engineers have registered for the conference, which is being hosted for the first time ever by a university in Ireland. Conferences have also been held in Puerto Rico, (2006), Portugal, (2007), Hungary, (2008), Korea, (2009) and Poland, (2010). UMIST, Manchester (2002) was the first and until now, the only UK university to host the event.

Conference chair is Ulster’s Dr James Uhomoibhi of the Faculty of Computing and Engineering at the Jordanstown campus. He says it is a major coup for Ulster to host such a prestigious international event as ICEE-2011. “This is an excellent opportunity to showcase Ulster as delegates will have an opportunity to see for themselves some of the pioneering engineering research being carried out by Faculty staff at the Jordanstown, Coleraine and Magee campuses.  

He explains: “The conference theme, ‘Engineering Sustainability for a Global Economy’, will be considered under three key strands: Sustainability, Globalisation and Education. Recent disasters around the world - both natural and man made - such as tsunamis, earthquakes, droughts and conflicts, have highlighted both the importance and relevance of the many engineering products and services being researched at Ulster.”

Dr Uhomoibhi says the conference will facilitate the sharing of expertise and knowledge between international partners.

“Participants at ICEE-2011 will be able to give valuable insights and cultural perspectives that will create opportunities for interesting discourse and creative developments, including the globalization of engineering education.  

“The conference will open the door to innovative ways of considering relevant issues affecting several people in diverse fields and across different subjects. Participants from around the world will explore and present works in such areas as technology for improved education practice, E-Learning, student engagement, curriculum provision, assessment, lifelong learning and university-industry collaboration etc. as well as the diverse aspects of engineering education related to sustainability and globalization.” 

The six-day conference programme includes parallel sessions for papers, workshops, seminars, special focus sessions and poster presentations and is designed to encourage greater international co-operation and stronger academic-industry collaboration aimed at engineering sustainability for a global economy.

Keynote speakers include some of the world’s most distinguished and respected engineers, all of whom have a proven track record in business.

Professor John Anderson, Founder, Director and Chief Technology Officer of HeartSine® Technologies Inc., was responsible for the development of the world’s first portable defibrillator, a life saving medical device which is now manufactured and sold worldwide. He was also the first director of the Northern Ireland Bio-Engineering Centre (NIBEC) and former Head of School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.   

During his working career, Professor Anderson has been responsible for ten start-up companies in the field of medical engineering. His presentation will focus on how universities and industry can work together to embed an entrepreneurial spirit in university education programmes.   Professor Helen Atkinson is President of Engineering Professors Council, head of Mechanics of Materials Group, Department of Engineering, University of Leicester. Prior to embarking on an academic career, she worked on strategic business planning for the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

Using examples from industry where significant engineering achievements have led to reduced energy and natural resource demands, Professor Atkinson will discuss how engineers can create wealth, while at the same time protect the environment and reduce global warming.

Professor Renata S Engel is President of the American Society for Engineering Education and Associate Dean for Academic Programs, PENN State University. Her presentation will consider how the engineering curricula has evolved to meet global needs and how to ensure that engineering graduates are equipped with the necessary skills to contribute to global society.  

Professor Paul Jowitt is Professor of Civil Engineering Systems and Executive Director of the Scottish Institute of Sustainable Technology at Heriot Watt University. Lack of access to basic infrastructure is at the root of world poverty and the human tragedies associated with it. Professor Jowitt’s keynote paper will address some of the issues associated with infrastructural investment in the developing world such as technical knowledge, procurement, project management and local community engagement.

Profssor Luiz Carlos Scavarda Do Carmo, Dean, Centre for Science & Technology - PUC-Rio, Rio de Janeiro, who has been actively involved in the process of Engineering Education reform in Brazil, will consider how engineering education is a strategic asset and key to economic growth.

Nigerian academic Professor Val Ekechukwu, who is Director of Research and Innovation at the National Universities Commission in Nigeria and Professor of Applied Solar Energy in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Nigeria will give a keynote address on engineering education in emerging economies with a specific focus on Nigeria.

ICEE: An International Conference on Engineering Education: 21-26 August 2011: Belfast. Full conference programme is available at