This program reflected the hope that everyone could make the most of the three days we spent together
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 we have to deal with. In addition, we discovered a huge amount of work still to be done as most of the youngest group.
Let us summarize a bit what happened those days, from 13 to 15 of July 2022 after the excellent organization given by the Boston College team with whom we have worked regularly over the past months.
The first day, Inspiration, was for remembering and knowing the progress done during the past three years, by the Executive Committee and the Tasks Force and Projects leaders. In that aspect, 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 our engineering schools and to engage as many faculties as possible in IAJES.
The second and the third days had a similar structure combining inspirational conferences and working sessions for knowing, thinking, and sharing communitarian and personal thoughts that would help the growth of the association for a better service to the Engineering community and the world. Nevertheless, the second day was devoted to Reflection and the third to Action. The 3 pillars, considering the first-day Inspiration, of the Ignatian spirituality.
Let us remark on the initial sessions of those two days conducted by James (Jim) Keenan SJ, Vice Provost for Global Engagement of 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 our attention. Without recognition, communities are not considered. He also focused his speeches on vulnerability as the capacity to be responsive to others, but not as a disease, and highlights that the strongest voices talking on 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 quasi all the IAJU regions, allowed us to consider what mentoring means under the Ignatian sense. Something was clear, the controversy that this word raises, especially in English speakers’ countries. Nevertheless, it was clear that for us mentoring is not giving advertisements and 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 a tool for working together.
We had very inspirational invited speakers. Let us mention only one, David M. Sengeh, Biomedical Engineer at MIT, Sierra Leone’s first chief innovation officer and youngest ever education minister. When he came back to Sierra Leone, he realizes that all work done at MIT was not useful in his country, there is nothing. He should begin from zero, looking for the population’s needs and putting the accumulated knowledge at MIT at the service of their citizens.
He urged us to work for social justice because it is not a nice word, it is necessary for a better world for learning for real sustainable development, for involving Engineering in policy, and for splitting education all around the world. Let us add two ideas from Fr. Keenan. First, don’t do like most of the people that are interested in what our students are, do 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.
All of us thank the extraordinary work done by Prof. Sunand Bhattacharya, Prof. Glenn Gaudette and their teams, not only for the logistics but also for their professionalism and for choosing speakers and offering very nice ideas that help the summit to be a great success.
Finally, in the closing session, Joseph Christie SJ encouraged all of us to work according to what happened those 3 days at Boston College, to split our experience among all our colleagues, and to work all together putting our engineering knowledge and common sense at the service of people for building a better common house. Prof. Rosa Nomen, the elected president, closes the event, saying that we, IAJES members, have the strength, energy, and desire to work together, but we need the support of our institutions by giving us time and recognition to let this network consolidate and grow.