The History of the Engineering Graduates Association

Professor John Kelly was elected Dean of Engineering and Architecture, UCD in 1979. The following is an account in his own words (with editing) of the founding of the EGA.

Sometime in 1980, I called a number of graduatesto my office in Merrion Street to discuss a two-item agenda:

  1. The establishment of UCD Engineering Graduates Association
  2. Concerning the intended move to Belfield of the Engineering School: to build alongside the Engineering building a “Graduates Memorial Building” to be funded by the Engineering graduates.

Attending the meeting were Desmond Green, Liam Connellan, Tom Hardiman and myself. Because the design of the new Engineering building in Belfield was being drawn up at this time, it was decided to move first on item 2 and initiate a fundraising drive, not for a Graduates Memorial Building, but rather for a building which would link the new Engineering building in Belfield with the Engineering graduates in Irish industry.

This building was eventually called the University Industry Centre, with Tom Hardiman acting as its first Chairman. We were joined in the fundraising drive by Eoin Kenny and by Paddy Galvin, not actually a UCD graduate but the CEO of Guinness Ireland (with whom I was doing a bit of consultancy at the time). Paddy acted as the Chairman of the fundraising drive and did a great job.

We hired an American firm to help us with the fundraising and, as best I could, I identified a “Class President” for every Engineering class back to the 1940s. These were charged with contacting the members of their respective classes and getting them involved. This strategy worked very well. I myself became the president for the class of 1957. Fundraising meetings were held mostly in the domed room atop Merrion Street, which was the Engineering Common Room at the time.

We raised over £1million and the names of all the subscribers are inscribed in the foyer of the University Industry Centre in Belfield. Scott Tallon & Walker, the architects for the Engineering building, were also the architects for the UIC, and the two buildings were constructed together. Through my nomination to the Senate of the NUI, both Tom Hardiman and Paddy Galvin were awarded honorary doctorates, partly in recognition of their contributions to the fundraising for the UIC and also for their other achievements in Irish industry. In addition, Paddy Galvin was made an honorary life member of the EGA.

The UIC was formally opened on 20 May 1985 by An Taoiseach Dr Garret Fitzgerald TD. A photograph of this event hangs in the foyer of the UIC. The Engineering Graduates Association believed that the future of Irish industry could be greatly assisted by closer co-operation between industry and UCD. Their intention was that the UIC would encourage such interaction by providing a location for meetings, continuing professional education courses, industrial exhibitions and seminars.

Around 1982, with the business of fundraising for the UIC more or less out of the way, we went about setting up the EGA. Tom Hardiman acted as the first President, and Agriculture and Food Engineering graduate student Clodagh O'Donnell served as first Honorary Secretary. Liam Connellan and Des Green succeeded as Presidents later also. Clodagh and I wrote a Constitution, which was agreed and implemented and I personally designed an EGA graduates tie.

The rest, as they say, is history.