Jesuit Engineering To Achieve A Better World All Together

After 3 years of online-only activities, IAJES celebrated its first in-person meeting at Boston College in July 2022.

The main conclusion at the end of the Summit was to confirm that IAJES is a young family happy to meet face-to-face and enthusiastic about the future. In addition, they discovered a huge amount of work still to be done as is the case for most new organizations.

Let’s summarize a bit of what happened during those days, from 13 to 15 of July 2022 after the excellent organization by the Boston College team with whom IAJES have worked regularly over the past months (Sunand Bhattacharya, Maria-Isabel Carnasciali, Siddhartan Govindasamy, Musa Kamara).

The first day, Inspiration, was for remembering and knowing the progress made during the past three years, by the Executive Committee and the Tasks Force and Projects leaders. In that respect, the rules of the Association were approved in which the vision, mission and ambition are declared, as well as the objectives.

  • A new organigram was designed with the aim to have more visibility inside their engineering schools and to engage as many faculties as possible in IAJES.
  • The new Executive Board constituted by the President, the Vice-president and the Secretary will work closely together to consolidate the work initiated by the former teams and find the right balance, between events, projects, and actions, for the future development of IAJES. Moreover, one of its first tasks is to write the road map that establishes the visibility inside and outside the IAJES, the relationship with IAJU and ensures the continuity of the Association.
  • A Governing Board, formed by the IAJU Region Representatives and the Executive Board, will work to guarantee the link with IAJU, to facilitate the participation of all Engineering Schools in all regions, and to validate and ensure the correct positioning of all the task forces and project.
  • An Operational Committee, formed by all the Task Force and Project Leaders and the Executive Board, will follow the progress of the task forces and projects and could propose the closing of an action or the opening of a new one.
  • The Task Force and Project Leaders will lead the different working groups. They will decide on its organization and the necessary means, in particular the rhythm of the team meetings which guarantees the progress of the actions.

The second and the third days had a similar structure combining inspirational sessions and working sessions for knowing, thinking, and sharing communitarian and personal thoughts that would help the growth of the association to better serve the Engineering community and the world. Nevertheless, the second day was devoted to Reflection and the third to Action. Including the theme for the first day, Inspiration, the three themes reflect the pillars of Ignatian Spirituality.

The first sessions were led by James (Jim) Keenan SJ, Vice Provost for Global Engagement at Boston College, for whom Engineering provides tools to build bridges of recognition. Something essential for initiating thinking about some need or necessity is to recognize that someone, some community, or something, needs attention. Without recognition, communities are not considered. He also spoke of vulnerability as the capacity to be responsive to others, but not as a disease, and highlights that the strongest voices talking about vulnerability are women because they have the capacity of recognition. Thank you, Jim.

The session devoted to the Mentoring IAJES project, with 37 members working in pairs from almost all the IAJU regions, allowed to consider what mentoring means in the Ignatian sense. Something was clear, the controversy that this word raises, especially in English speakers’ countries. Nevertheless, it was clear that mentoring is not about advertisements and giving answers, it is an accompaniment for personal growth. In Ignatian words, for a better use of people, putting the question and not many as it is written in the Spiritual Exercises. In the end, we recognize mentorship as a means for working together.

The meeting had very inspirational invited speakers such as David M. Sengeh, Biomedical Engineering graduate from MIT, Sierra Leone’s first chief innovation officer and youngest ever education minister. When he returned to Sierra Leone, he realized that much of his work done at MIT was not directly useful in his country as there was not much to start with. He had to begin from zero, looking for the population’s needs and putting the accumulated knowledge from his time at MIT to the service of the citizens of Sierra Leone.

He urged IAJES to work for social justice not because it is a nice word or phrase, but because it is necessary for a better world – for learning, for real sustainable development, for involving Engineering in policy, and for education all around the world. There are two thoughts of Fr. Keenan that relate to these ideas. First, don’t act like most of the people who are interested in what our students are, instead act like those who are interested in what they are not, and try to convert them. Second, do not tell students what they should do, show them what we are doing, and they will understand.

IAJES thank the extraordinary work done by Prof. Sunand Bhattacharya, Prof. Glenn Gaudette and their teams, not only for the logistics of organizing the conference, but also for their professionalism and for choosing speakers and offering very nice ideas that helped the summit to be a great success.

Finally, in the closing session, Joseph Christie SJ encouraged IAJES to work according to what occurred and was discussed during those 3 days at Boston College, to split their experience among all our colleagues, and to work all together putting their engineering knowledge and common sense at the service of people for building a better common home. Prof. Rosa Nomen, the elected president, closed the event, saying that IAJES members, have the strength, energy, and desire to work together, but they need the support of their institutions by giving them time and recognition to let this network consolidate and grow.

Share this Post:

Related Posts: