Conference Main Speech

ICEE-2011 Conference Opening Ceremony

Belfast Waterfront Hall, Monday, August 22, 2011


I consider it a great honour to be given this opportunity by the University of Ulster, the host institution, this year, of the prestigious ICEE-2011, International Conference on Engineering Education beginning today here in Belfast.  I have had the opportunity to learn a little bit about iNEER and ICEE. I find your network to be a unique organisation that welcomes members from all over the world, promoting engineering education and research, allowing for cooperation across countries and fields of expertise and collaboration on fascinating projects. All of these I believe the delegates of this year’s conference will have the opportunity to share with one another throughout the week that lies ahead, realised through the rich blend of the presentations that have been programmed for delivery. The theme of this year’s conference “Engineering Sustainability for a Global Economy” is well chosen and fits well with what all peoples of all nations all over the world are striving to achieve. I know the importance of this having served as Minister for regional development here in Northern Ireland.


I understand you are here for the full week. I have seen the programme really packed full with interesting presentations in quite a wide variety of engineering education subject areas covering broadly the strands of sustainability, education and globalisation. Statistics just revealed that you all come from well over 40 countries.


Northern Ireland is a very warm, friendly and highly welcoming place and just like the University of Ulster we are proud to see Belfast host the ICEE Conference this year. Our history is one filled with great achievements in engineering. The great Titanic built just few miles from where we are today is recognised as one of the great achievements of engineering history. In Northern Ireland all aspects of Engineering are covered and our institutions of further and higher education of which the University is the largest helps to make sure we take our rightly place amongst peers on the global stage. Today the title Sponsor Company Bombardier dealing with the air transport feels very much at home here with the calibre of highly knowledgeable and skilled workforce that exist in Northern Ireland.  Talking of engineering achievements involving landed vehicles, you are aware of Dunlop tyres and plants owned by FG Wilson to name a few.


Northern Ireland is known for its coastal beauty and other interesting things to do that are not wholly limited to Belfast. There is the Giants Causeway, The Glens of Antrim, the Mountains of Mourne, in County Down, my very own County all of which are there for you to explore during your visit to the region. I am aware that you have a packed technical programme during this conference. I do implore you to avail of the very rich social programme which the University and the organising committee have worked very hard to put in place for you.


Without much ado, Vice Chancellors, Chairpersons, distinguished guests, ladies and gentle, it give me great pleasure now to declare the ICEE, International Conference on Engineering Education, 2011, Belfast open.


Thank you.




File:Margaret ritchie.jpg

Margaret Ritchie is an SDLP MLA and MP for South Down and SDLP Leader. She was appointed Minister for Social Development on 8th of May 2007 to 2010.

Margaret Ritchie’s political career began in 1985 when she was elected to Down District Council representing the Rowallane Area. Later she was appointed Parliamentary Assistant and Political Researcher to the MP for South Down, Eddie McGrady. Margaret was subsequently elected to Down District Council in successive elections 1985 and to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2003 and again in 2007. Miss Ritchie resigned her council seat on the 22nd of June 2009, under the SDLP policy of double jobbing. While this move was tinged with sadness, Miss Ritchie has continued to work and deliver for the people in her district council electoral constituency.

Margaret Ritchie’s love of South Down is well known and she is an active lobbyist for a wide range of causes in the area. She is also committed to building a shared future in Northern Ireland and this theme permeates all aspects of her political life, from local councillor, to MLA, to Party Leader.