Report on WFEO Meeting in Rome, Italy

(November 26 through December 2, 2017)


Report provided by Vilas Mujumdar, U.S. Representative to WFEO and a member of the WFEO Executive Council

The WFEO meeting and World Engineering Forum was held in Rome, Italy, from Nov. 26-Dec. 2, starting with WFEO committee meetings, followed by the World Engineering Forum organized by the Italian Professional Engineer's Society November 27 – 29, and then the Executive Council and General Assembly meetings on December 1 - 2.

The U.S. delegation consisted of 10 individuals: Reggie Vachon, Vilas Mujumdar, Stacey DelVecchio, Sam and Nancy Grossman, Karen Horting, Meggan Maughan-Brown, J.P. Mohsen, Allian Pratt, and Randy Over. Each morning the U.S. delegation met to discuss attended events of the prior day and to discuss activities of the day.  The delegation made an attempt to cover as many events as possible to maintain a U.S. presence.

The opening ceremony of the World Engineering Forum (WEF) was held at the Italian Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament.  Unfortunately, the hall was not large enough to accommodate all delegates (500+) and many were not able to attend.

Speakers from the U.S. at the WEF: Stacey DelVecchio (Vice-Chair of the WFEO Committee on Women in Engineering (WIE)) made several presentations and chaired multiple sessions. Karen Horting and Nancy Grossman also made presentations. 

Active in the leadership of Standing Technical Committees: In addition to Stacey DelVecchio, Sam Grossman is Chair and Nancy Grossman Secretary of the Committee on Energy, and J. P. Mohsen is the Committee on Education in Engineering Vice-Chair.

The Committee on Education in Engineering included two speakers from the U.S., ABET Executive Director Michael Milligan and Yvette Pearson, Rice University Associate Dean for Accreditation and Assessment.

A required event of the General Assembly, which meets every two years, was the election for the three positions: President-Elect, Executive Vice-President, and one Executive Council member. The General Assembly had 79 members participating for voting, the largest number ever. Since there were 3 persons contesting for the President-Elect position, with two of them also indicating their candidacy for the Executive Vice-President position (4 years), the election took the entire day on December 1.

For President-Elect position- Gong Ke (China), Mustafa Shehu (Federation of African Engineers), and Reginald Vachon (U.S.) were the candidates. Since no one received more than 50% votes in the first round, a second round was held with the person receiving the least votes eliminated. Shehu was eliminated. In the second round, Gong Ke and Reggie Vachon contested and Gong Ke was declared the winner - President-Elect.

For Executive Vice President - Reggie Vachon, Mustafa Shehu, and Fethi Thabet (Tunisia) were the candidates. Again it required two rounds of voting to elect. Reggie Vachon was declared the winner- Executive Vice President.

Executive Council Member - Two candidates contested the election: Bahrain National member and the Brazil National Member. Majeed Basheer Al Qassab from Bahrain was declared the winner.

Seng Chuan Tan (Singapore) was appointed by the Board as the Treasurer and ratified by the Executive Council and the General Assembly.

With the Election results the new Executive Board is as follows:

Marlene Kanga- President
Jorge Spitalnik - Past president
Gong Ke - President-Elect
Crtomir Remec - Executive Vice-President
Reggie Vachon- Executive Vice -President
Seng Chuan Tan - Treasurer

The new Executive Council and the Board were to meet on December 2. Neither I nor Reggie were able to attend. Randy Over was present at this meeting and voted for the U.S.
Related to some other important issue of WFEO, a brief report is provided as follows:

Standing Technical Committees (STCS) - There are 10 committees, each headed by a National Member Country. A review committee assesses the progress of each committee annually. This was presented to all STC Chairs by the Chair of the Review Committee.

It is also suggested by the Executive Board that some committees such as Anti-Corruption, Women-in Engineering are in fact Policy committees rather than Technical committees. Some re-organization of all committees is expected to take place in the coming year. It will be sent to Task Force on Governing Documents for developing the proper language.

Governing Documents - There is a Task Force on Governing Documents (TFGD), chaired by the U.S. Many issues were pointed out as being non-aligned between the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure. These will be worked on by TFGD next year and submitted to the Executive Board for further processing.

Fee Structure - Starting with the 2018 fiscal year, a new fee structure will be in place, which was developed to be in alignment with UNESCO categories for various nations. It was approved by the General Assembly.

50th Anniversary of WFEO - Next year, 2018, is WFEO's 50th anniversary. The anniversary meeting will be held in London in conjunction with Institution of Civil Engineers (UK), who is also celebrating their 200th anniversary.  The tentative date is the week of October 22.

WFEO United Nations Relations Committee (WURC) - The committee, chaired by Reggie Vachon, met in Rome and it was attended by a large group of participants.

Listed below are key highlights:

  • A small task force is looking at piloting a project to develop a report card system to convey information on the status of infrastructure in a country.
  • The Committee is making great strides in establishing relationships with the scientific community--The International Council for Science (ICSU) and International Social Science Council (ISSC). Engineering input is vital towards reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and we have been working together to developed side events at the UN for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum).
  • WURC is encouraging the WFEO Standing Technical Committees to provide input to the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report.