Monday, 14 May 2018

Presidential address

Presidential address

It is an honour and a privilege to accept the office of President of the Institute of Refractory Engineers. Something that would never have crossed my mind when I joined as a member, many years ago in South Africa. Moving to the UK has given me a new perspective of the importance of the IRE and made me even more aware of the need for this institute to exist. Countries like China and India are getting more actively involved into refractories, mainly because the industry has largely moved into those areas. However, the UK is still seen as a major contributor to the standards relating to refractories and we should still be very proud of that.

The IRE has been surviving over the last 20 years even though every presidential speech mentioned declined member numbers and difficult times. Just another testimony that the institute has an important part to play in the future of the refractory industry.

Over the last number of years great efforts have been made by every newly elected president to try and make it more relevant for the current times. We think of the introduction of the website and the efforts made to have a chat room for members to share their views and experiences. Then later, the expansion of the website to include advertising. Increased energy had to be put into ensuring a successful conference is held every year, as well as trying to revive the branches which seems to become less attractive in today's lifestyles.

New ideas are coming forward regarding the use of social media as many nowadays live with their mobiles in their pockets. However, time is precious for everyone and even though social media may be utilised to extend the reach of the IRE, the way in which it needs to be set up and maintained will be the challenge I foresee during my time in office. New strategies will have to be found to promote the objectives set out by the IRE, objectives that are still just as valid, in my mind, as 50 years ago. Objectives such as to foster and promote the skills and science of refractories engineering. All I know is that exciting times lie ahead of us, and I am looking forward to the changes that will most certainly take place.

Jan DuPlessis

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