In appointing me its100th President, the Institution has conferred upon me a tremendous honour and provided me with an amazing opportunity for which I am thankful. The weight of responsibility is enormous but the road ahead, although challenging, is exciting and I count on your support as we walk it together.
The choice of title for this address is almost a given in the year 2020. It is opportune to pause and reflect on what has been achieved under the leadership of 99 illustrious past presidents. Recent presidents have contemplated the future of our profession and how we must adapt and develop to meet the evolving challenges that face us. In 2018, under Faith Wainwright’s presidency, Council was tasked with considering developing trends, methods, materials, etc. and the outcome was the seminal strategy publication, The future of our profession.
The Board formally adopted the report’s recommendations and the Institution’s April 2019 Technical Conference entitled ‘Strategically shaping the future of our profession’ explored three of the seven key issues in greater depth:
- data and artificial intelligence
- future of education for engineer
The Institution has since set up a task group to monitor progress as initiatives are rolled out, and its various committees and panels are also theming their activities around the key priority areas.
Although the intention of this address is not to stargaze, the wisdom of Confucius is relevant: ‘Study the past if you would define the future’. Technologist Mike Ivicak gave this a slight twist: ‘For an understanding of the future, look to the past’. Ivicak went on to say: ‘The past and the future are actually not so different. Every past event has a cause or causes that, as we look back at them, typically make sense to us from our vantage point in the present. Likewise, each past event has implications and influences the events that follow it.’