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.