The Global Engineering Debate

The Global Engineering Debate (GED), currently in its third year, is an initiative created and administered by the Young Members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The GED is a truly global initiative with young members from as far as Trinidad and Tobago, Hong Kong, and Singapore holding their own events. Its purpose is to create a platform where young engineers around the globe can debate the key issues that affect the current and future generations of engineering professionals.

The event helps to publicise the voice of young engineers on topics of international importance and highlight the contribution of young professional engineers towards solving global problems. Each year the debate focusses on a different theme reflecting the diverse ways in which engineering impacts on society. Previous topics have included fields readily associated with engineering such as energy and transport. This year the topic will be healthcare, a field which may surprise some members of the general public. The question posed to this year’s speakers will be “How can healthcare technology better support independent life for an ageing population?”

GED events follow a standard debate format with a chair/moderator and panellists representing a range of fields. Before the event the audience is surveyed to see where they stand on the topic. The speakers are then allowed to argue their case. Questions are invited from the audience and via social media before closing statements. The event is a test not only of presentation skill but also of persuasiveness; a closing vote is taken to see how much the speakers have managed to shift the audience’s opinions.

Launch Event 2017 - One Birdcage Walk, London

GED workshop

For the third Global Engineering Debate, run by the Young Members Board, the topic debated was “Healthcare engineering for an ageing population”. The launch event was hosted by IMechE’s Head of Healthcare, Dr Helen Meese. View the video of the launch event.

Prior to the debate, the audiences were polled with the question “Which of the following areas should healthcare engineering and technology place the highest emphasis on, in order to provide the greatest support for independent life for an ageing population?”

The four areas explored in this debate were: Life at home (represented by Edouard Auvinet), Transportation (Dr Simon Edwards), Healthcare providers (Nicola Cawthorne) and Community providers (Dr Isaiah Adekanmbi).

The audience initially placed most importance on Life at home with 46% of the votes, followed by healthcare providers (33%), community provider (21%) and transportation with no votes

Results from the pre-debate poll:

GED workshop

The debate began with an introduction by Chairperson Professor Garth Johnson, who defined the scope of the field of engineering aimed at older people and provided an insight into the different nuances that needed to be considered and evaluated in the debate by all the speakers. Each speaker then had equal opportunity to argue for their specialty with questions open to the audience. In order to maintain a lively debate and provide structure to the discussions, the debate was prompted with the following five areas: impact, user benefit, cost, ethics and technology push or pull.

The excellent interaction between the audience and the speakers led to an interesting debate that raised awareness on numerous key issues and kept the audience engaged throughout. The effect that transportation has on all the other facets of healthcare for the ageing population was significantly highlighted. Therefore, when the audiences were polled at the end of the debate to the same question as the beginning, the overall winner was transportation (42%), followed by life at home (31%), community provider (27%) and healthcare providers (0%). Transportation having gone from 0% of the votes before the debate to 42% of the votes at the end of the debate illustrated a clear change in outlook of the audience. Dr Edwards successfully debated the importance of transportation by providing a clear understanding of what transportation involves, how it is implemented and how it affects the ageing population.

Results from the post debate poll: 

GED workshop 2

To keep up to date with the event, follow the working group on Facebook or email the team via ged14@imeche.org.