A wide range of matters were discussed pertaining to the engineering profession and how they could be applied to the industry, at the first interaction forum this week in Colombo between the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka (IESL) and the industry.
While divergent views were pooled, the quality and efficiency of the engineers cannot be determined as there lacks opportunity and challenge.
The integrity, prowess and efficiency was proved beyond comprehension during the reconstruction after the Tsunami devastation. It transpired that during the tsunami reconstruction the local engineers were charged with the challenge, opportunity and responsibility and the rose to the occasion exceptionally completing major work pertaining to roads, power supply telecommunication and water supply in record time than what was estimated by foreign companies who applied to do such work.
Prof. Ananda Jayawardena, IESL President explaining the purpose of the forum said that this initiative is to identify their representative role in the engineering profession and their institution as the governing body has a vital role to play in engineering education, professional development and employment of engineers.
It needs to build a link among engineers, academia, the industry and society as its partners or stakeholders in both private sector and public sector to make use of these services.
He said that the ethical standards of the institution is very stringent and if any member violates the ethical code and the regulations they would be disciplinarily dealt with or where necessary punishment would also be meted out. They would also entertain public complaints against their members and these complaints would be investigated.
He said that they have realized the importance of collaboration and rapport with the industry as they have understood that they could do quite a lot of things to obtain multiple performances and achieve many objectives. He called upon the engineers to become their members so that the interaction with the industry would be easy.
Prof. Jayawardana indicated that there are many technical personnel who work in the construction sector, but they are not engineers and said that they should be properly and professionally qualified to maintain the standards.
Ranjith Gunatilleke, Managing Director, Sanken Lanka said that they represent the construction industry and added that it is very difficult to get graduate engineers to the construction industry. He said that most of the engineers are confined to Colombo and it is extremely difficult to move them to the provinces, finding it difficult to transfer one engineer from one section to another.
He said that private sector construction is going with the local industry and it has a major role to play in the development strategy. He said that in the early ‘70s there was no private sector in major construction projects like multi storied buildings. He said that 15 storied buildings were constructed by the State Engineering Corporation and inquired as to what happened to them now.
He said that engineers have a major role to play in the development of the country and queried as to why the engineers cannot be part of the policy makers in the country.
There are no engineers as politicians but there are doctors and lawyers who are the cream of the country.
Ranjith Gunawardena, Past President, IESL who mooted the idea of industry interaction said that they specially need to interact with the private sector and said that public sector engineers are their members and their interaction is ensured. He said that as a result of this many of the private sector engineers are not chartered engineers and are also not graduate engineers. He said that private sector employers have not realized the importance of having qualified graduate engineers.
Views were also expressed that though large amounts of funds have been spent on road rehabilitation the work completed was unsatisfactory. It was also pointed out that there was poor technology transfer and this is actually done through some NGOs.
Power specialist and engineer Dr Tilak Siyambalapitiya moderated the forum.