This is my 6th column and indicates that a Presidential year has passed. It is therefore appropriate that I reflect on the achievements in the past year and look forward to the events which will unfold over the next year of office.
In previous columns I’ve considered the aims of the Institute to “disseminate information”, “encourage the exchange of information and ideas amongst the members” and “foster and promote the skills and science of refractory engineering”. To achieve this I wanted to augment the mainly axial relationship with the members where information is exchanged predominantly through the Journal with an interactive one where members can converse on a wider basis through the website.
The re-vamp of the website has been instrumental in this philosophy and especially the forum to encourage debate. Please note that although the website is now fully operational, we should consider it as subject to continuous improvement and consequently if you have any ideas for additions please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The General Council met in July and set a deadline of the end of August for the launch of the new website. Consequently in order to adhere to this deadline the text has been chiefly my own and whilst this has enabled the task within the time limit please browse through the various “introductions” and if there is anything you would like to add, please let me know.
In the last Journal John (editor) mentioned an electronic Journal format and this is certainly possible. Whilst this hasn’t been a topic of discussion at the General Council for some time, I think that it is nether the less an interesting development.
The back issues of the Journal on the website are appropriate for handheld devices although a member has pointed out that the column layout of the Journal is awkward to view as you need to constantly scan up and down the page. Consequently I will propose to Council that we look at a Journal electronic friendly format to sit alongside the printed version, it would be very easily distributed by e-mailing an access code to those who may want it.
I hope that this would satisfy all member requirements and I’ll keep you advised of progress.
As we approach the National Conference on the 26th of September and looking back over the past year it would be remiss of me not to consider the financial situation.
Whilst there is loss to our account this year the “devil is in the detail” and I would therefore direct you to the comments made by Paul, Chairman of the Executive Committee, in the draft accounts.
There is unfortunately insufficient President’s column space to go through the key essential “one-off” costs through the year, however after considerable discussion at the General Council I am assured and therefore hopefully you are that the Institute is in a sound financial situation.
We have unfortunately had to write-off some “bad and doubtful debts”, however Jayne (treasurer) now starts with a clean sheet.
So, looking to the next year, hopefully we’ll see the website forum grow and an e-Journal launch.
In regard to the overseas branches, I’ve noticed that we’ve received very few news articles for the Journal recently and I would like to encourage the branches to submit anything which is suitable for wider distribution. In my first year of office, I’ve had very little interaction with South Africa and Australia and this is something that I’d like to reverse this year.
The Institute continues to grow at a steady rate with new members ratified at virtually every Council Meeting; we are also losing members for various reasons, however I feel that we are in a net positive situation and hopefully this statement can be validated by Jayne in the near future when the SAGE database is complete.
It is a challenge to keep track of the membership especially as our industry in recent years been through so much rationalisation. However with our policy of one member one invoice hopefully we’ll have the most definitive list of membership possible on the SAGE system. On behalf of Jayne I request that if you receive the Journal and haven’t yet received an invoice for Membership please let Jayne know email@example.com , although all available membership lists have been merged and we’ve strived to be as accurate as possible inevitably someone could have dropped through the net.
Look forward to seeing you at the National Conference on the 26th; I hope you’ll enjoy it.