UCD recently honoured Brian Sweeney, former chairman of Siemens Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), with the Degree of Doctor of Science

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Pictured at the conferring ceremony (l-r): Gerald Byrne, Principal of UCD’s College of Engineering and Architecture; Brian Sweeney FIEI; and Paul Lynam, chief executive officer, Siemens Ireland.

Gerald Byrne Chartered, College Principal of Engineering and Architecture at UCD, said of this award, “Brian Sweeney is an extraordinary Irish engineer, businessman and industrialist – an engineer who has shaped the future of industry, business and educational research in Ireland.”

The seed of Brian’s lifelong interest in engineering was derived from his maternal grandfather who became PA to Henry Ford. Through his early teens, Brian was fascinated by the skills of a family of blacksmiths, fitters and mechanics called Rea who lived in his home town of Cappoquin.

After he graduated from UCD in 1956, he left Ireland to work with Siemens in Germany. He was later employed as site engineer for several power stations being built by Siemens in Ireland. In the mid-70s, having worked through the different divisions of the company, he was appointed managing director, holding the post until he had completed 40 years with Siemens at which point he became chairman of the company, a position which he held until the beginning of 2009.

During his time as MD and later on as chairman of Siemens Ireland he led its development into a company of over 1,000 people - that’s 1,000 jobs in Ireland. In the course of this development, Brian Sweeney always placed a strong focus on young engineers and he opened up opportunities for the placement of engineers within Siemens companies across Europe”.       

Brian has served as a member of the Council and Executive of IBEC and acted as joint chairman of the IBEC/CBI North South Business Cooperation Initiative. He was also chairman of the Energy Committee of IBEC.

In 1999, while he chaired the Irish Technology Foresight Study, Brian presented this report in person before the full Cabinet of the Government asking for, and ultimately obtaining, agreement to research funding of €245m. This report created the path for Ireland’s commitment to basic research in biotechnology and ICT, and led to the establishment of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), of which he was the first chairman.

Brian has lectured final year undergraduate engineering students in UCD on marketing on a voluntary basis and was president of The Engineering Graduates Association of UCD