Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame

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5 April 2014 The Lusitania Window

On Saturday 5 April 2014, IESIS and Scottish Opera held a most enjoyable event in the Rankine Room of the building at 39 Elmbank Street. This building was commissioned as the headquarters of IESIS in 1908. It was sold to Glasgow Council in 1968 and is now leased to Scottish Opera for rehearsals. The Rankine Hall of the building is named in memory of William McQuorn Rankine, the first President of IESIS and a 19th century Scottish engineering genius. Windows in the Rankine Hall are of high quality stained glass. One shows the liner Lusitania that was torpedoed in 1915. Recently it was discovered that the Lusitania window needed extensive refurbishment. The meeting in April supported fundraising for this work.

Professor Tony Slaven, a historian and former President of IESIS, gave a presentation about "Scottish Shipbuilding The Great Days 1812-1914". In 1821 the Clyde produced about 15% of UK output of ships. In 1913 about 29% of world merchant shipbuilding was carried out on the Clyde. The Clyde had a reputation worldwide for excellence in marine engineering and in the construction in a wide range of ships, but especially for warships and great liners. Tony described the very high levels of innovation, entrepreneurship and quality that were drivers in achieving this. Another feature was the extensive networking that took place. Although there was fierce competition for orders, ideas for improvement were shared across the yards. IESIS had an important role in such sharing of information.

Professor John Hume former Chief Inspector of Historic Buildings in Scotland spoke about the history of the building. An appeal to members in 1904 resulted in such a "hearty and generous" response that it was possible to use high quality specification for the building and finishes. That an institution with probably not more that 1000 members could commission such a fine building from donations from its members is evidence of the high level of financial success of engineering and shipbuilding in Scotland at that time. At the inaugural event in 1908 the President John Ward, stated that it was "a monument of past achievements and realised hopes". John Hume then went on to explain the History of the Lusitania. She was launched from John Brown's shipyard, Clydebank in 1906 and, like the IESIS building, was designed to a top specification. The Lusitania and her near sister ship the Mauretania "looked superb from any angle and they became, from the first, national symbols of the country's prestige and prowess at sea." On 7 May 1915 she was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the Old Head of Kinsale, Southern Ireland, and sank quickly with the loss of 1198 lives.

After tea, Shuna Scott Selden accompanied by Derek Clark, Musical Director of Scottish Opera entertained the audience with a superb half hour of songs - operatic, showtime and Scottish.

2 March 2014 Workshops on Forms of Contract

In January and February 2014 IESIS, in collaboration with DWF Biggart Baillie, held a series of 6 early evening workshops discussing different forms of engineering contract. Forms of contract covered were: FIDIC, ICE, IChem, Shipbuilding, and NEC3. At the final session legal case studies were discussed. Average attendance at the sessions was 38. Feedback about the sessions was positive.

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