The Global Engineering Debate (GED), currently in its third year, is an initiative created and administered by the Young Members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The GED is a truly global initiative with young members from as far as Trinidad and Tobago, Hong Kong, and Singapore holding their own events. Its purpose is to create a platform where young engineers around the globe can debate the key issues that affect the current and future generations of engineering professionals.
The event helps to publicise the voice of young engineers on topics of international importance and highlight the contribution of young professional engineers towards solving global problems. Each year the debate focusses on a different theme reflecting the diverse ways in which engineering impacts on society. Previous topics have included fields readily associated with engineering such as energy and transport. This year the topic will be healthcare, a field which may surprise some members of the general public. The question posed to this year’s speakers will be ‘How can healthcare technology better support independent life for older persons?’
GED events follow a standard debate format with a chair/moderator and panelists representing a range of fields. Before the event the audience is surveyed to see where they stand on the topic. The speakers are then allowed to argue their case. Questions are invited from the audience and via social media before closing statements. The event is a test not only of presentation skill but also of persuasiveness; a closing vote is taken to see how much the speakers have managed to shift the audience’s opinions.
Launch Event 2016 – One Birdcage Walk, London
For 2016, the question posed to the panel of experts was ‘What is the future of local transport?’. In an event chaired by Philippa Oldham, the Institution’s head of transport and manufacturing, the following speakers represented each field:
- Automotive: Ian Bacon, Program Manager at AeroMobil: a company that is developing a flying car.
- Bus: John Bickerton, Chief Engineer for Reading Transport
- Rail: Ben Valley, Project Engineer on System Safety at Network Rail
- Autonomous: Siddartha Khastigir, Doctoral Candidate at Warwick Manufacturing Group researching the Testing of Driverless Cars and functional safety of Autonomous Systems
Before the debate the audience opinions were as follows:
Automotive – 7%
Bus – 12%
Rail – 49%
Autonomous – 33%
The debate focused on several issues such as benefits, economic impact, the environment, and political attractiveness. The speakers all presented their arguments well, in many cases looking at examples of how technology in their field can develop and mature. In any other environment talk of flying cars might be treated as science fiction, but Mr Ian Bacon presented compelling and persuasive arguments about their feasibility and advantages. The other presenters also gave strong arguments; of particular interest was the consideration that some degree of autonomy could be integrated into any of the different methods of transport. As always a post-debate audience survey was carried out, this showed some significant shifts of opinion.
After the debate:
Automotive – 16% (+9% Swing)
Bus – 21% (+9% Swing)
Rail – 44% (-5% Swing)
Autonomous – 19% (-14% Swing)
The launch of the Global Engineering Debate for 2017 will once again take place at the Institution’s headquarters in the heart of Westminster. The event will be chaired by Professor Garth Johnson, Emeritus Professor at Newcastle University. An expert in the field, Prof. Johnson has previously written a policy statement on the topic for the Institution which can be viewed here. Speaker information will be updated as speakers are confirmed.
Speaking for: TBC
The debate will be held in the lecture theatre at One Birdcage Walk on 6th April at 18:30 with a reception and refreshments from18:00. If you would like to attend places can be booked here or to keep up to date with the event, follow the working group on Twitter, Facebook or email the team via firstname.lastname@example.org.