Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PSME 59th NatCon notes (#1)

04 November 2011
The Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers successfully conducted last week its annual national convention, participated in by at least 2,000 delegates and 1,800 students from all over the country and abroad.
This year’s program, as indicated in an earlier article, did, as intended, set new milestones (e.g., 1st National ME Student’s Conference, Philmach launching, CPE resumption, etc.) that will have its enhancing effect on the profession, and make the members of the organization proud. Despite this, however, it is this writer’s thinking that it was the message of the convention’s third day guest speaker, Atty. Teresita R. Manzala, Chairperson of the Professional Regulations Commission, that had the most profound impact on the “Society’s” ability to successfully pursue its objectives of “…advancing the arts and science of mechanical engineering…for the benefit of the general public…” and to “…participate and contribute in the social, economic, and industrial growth of the country”.
In her message, Chairperson Manzala enlightened the delegates on at least four important topics which are of significant relevance to the profession, namely:  the resolution of the PSME legitimacy issue, the Certificate of Good Standing, the Continuing Professional Education, and Green Energy/Engineering.
As a backgrounder, an election dispute in October 2006 resulted in two contending groups (one based in P. Paredes St., Sampaloc, Manila and the other in Bayoran St., South Triangle, QC) that claimed legitimacy as the leaders of the PSME. Although the conflict was resolved in May 2007 by the PRC (then chaired by Chairperson Leonor Rocero) in favour of the P. Paredes group, the division in the organization still created lingering confusion among the “Society’s” members as to which group they should secure their COGS – a requirement for the renewal of registration of practitioners. Addressing this problem was one of the justifications cited by the PRC (then under Chairman Nicolas Lapena) when they suspended the COGS requirement in July 2009, through their Office Order 2009-285. This decision, for various reasons, impacted negatively on the ability of the leadership of the “Society” to communicate with, and institute supervision over its members, as well as weaken its ability to operate effectively and provide the necessary services that would enhance both the profession and organization.  As a result, the number of active chapters shrunk from 90 to around 70 – its current level.
The PSME (P. Paredes) leadership, seeing the havoc being caused by the split in the organization, has, during the past four years pursued various initiatives geared to unify the contending groups and to stop the demoralization of its members and the deterioration of its chapters. But after experiencing only frustration after frustration from its efforts, it was forced to go to court to settle the legitimacy issue. This move resulted in a Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued very recently by the Manila RTC, Branch 24, enjoining the Bayoran St. based group (and its affiliates) from committing and performing the act of issuing a Certificate of Good Standing to mechanical engineers for the purpose of obtaining PRC licenses. On the strength of this Writ of Preliminary Injunction, the PRC issued Office Order #2011-375, dated October 27, 2011, directing (for immediate compliance) all Regional Directors and the Chief, Registration Division, to “…strictly implement the BME Resolution #5, S2003, and admit the COGS issued by the PSME holding office at Don Lorenzo Bldg., in P. Paredes, Manila and its duly accredited regional chapters”.
This positive development regarding the COGS, together with the resolution of the legitimacy issue (which was addressed earlier in favor of the P. Paredes group when it was granted on August 10, 2011 the Certificate of Accreditation No. I-APO-004, as the duly accredited professional organization for mechanical engineers) bodes well for the organization as it can now focus on “growing” the organization, as well as, rely on a more stable infrastructure for support, as it pursues its objectives.
In line with what she considers as an important function of PSME – that of educating its members - Chairperson Manzala  also formally announced that the CPE Council for mechanical engineering has already been constituted, and that the council is already empowered to approve CPE units of the seminars and trainings offered by the PSME. She further added that the attendance in the 59th Natcon would earn the delegate 20 units, provided he/she attends all seminars and lectures (and as a reminder all mechanical engineering professionals will now have to earn CPE units each year – at least 20 for PME/ME and 10 for CPM - to be able to renew their licenses). The convention, according to her, has reflected PSME’s support for PRC’s own advocacy for CPE, especially with the timely focus on Green Energy, whereby members of the profession were given the opportunity to keep abreast of the most recent developments in green energy and green engineering. This exposure, according to her, fulfils the purpose of providing education that would make mechanical engineers competitive; and since the current mechanical engineering curriculum does not yet incorporate subjects on green energy/engineering, it is now still within the realm of CPE to provide this education.
Chairperson Manzala touched on using the engineering report (or thesis) required of Professional Mechanical Engineering applicants (more on this later) as PRC’s vehicle for promoting awareness of Green Energy. She envisions that knowledge on it can be acquired through the incorporation in the report of the design of energy efficient as well as environmentally sustainable machinery and equipment.  She also opined that the mechanical engineer has a direct stake in the development as well as the efficient utilization of green energy (from sustainable sources) as it impacts on the competitiveness of business and industry.
In buildings, which according to the Philippine Green Building Council is a sector that accounts for about 30-40% of global energy use, the expertise of the profession could play a key role especially in the area of refrigeration and air conditioning design and installation. It is important , according to Chairperson Manzala that practitioners in this area keep abreast of the Montreal Protocol (the international agreement on the reduction and phase out of ozone depleting substances) where  the Philippines is one of the 196 ratifying countries. This is relevant in the sense that the HCFCs that are being used in the refrigeration and air conditioning systems as refrigerants (as well as solvents, fire extinguishers, blowing agents for plastic foam production, etc.) are just transitional CFC replacements. As the production and use of these substances are due to be frozen starting 2013, and reduced starting 2015, the services of the mechanical engineer will be needed in the conversion of the equipment to the new refrigerant.
The PSME was commended for putting its members in the right track by raising their awareness of green energy, and in effect promoting their global competitiveness. This awareness is expected to lead to the adoption of efficient energy utilization and energy conservation practices. The members were encouraged to benchmark their knowledge with the worldwide movement towards green building and to be pro-active and responsive to the challenges in our environment. Finally, the PRC Chairperson expressed hope that there would be a continuing momentum towards the greening of the Philippine mechanical engineer.
Early in her talk, Chairperson Manzala informed the delegates that she is the commissioner who has a direct oversight over the mechanical engineering profession (the only engineering profession under the PRC chair), and that this deep awareness and involvement has given her intimate views of its issues and concerns. This, according to her, gives the profession a special place mong the roster of regulated professions, and has made, as well, the upliftment of the mechanical engineers of special significance in the PRC. This was heart warming to hear, and it is this writer’s personal hope (as a mechanical engineering professional) that with her involvement, she would be a partner in addressing a lot of other matters that need correction or improvement in the profession, and bring about the significant upliftment of the Philippine mechanical engineering profession.

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