International Engineer of the Year

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Niall McDermott of J. B. Barry and Partners has been awarded the 2013 International Engineer award by Engineers Ireland.

Niall, Director of J. B. Barry and Partners International division, was announced as this year’s winner in the Irish Times Supplement "Engineering in Ireland" on Friday 1st November 2013 and will accept his award at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards Ceremony on November 8th in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin.

Niall was recognised mainly for his significant contribution as Team Leader on the €1.2 Billion Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the largest water infrastructure project ever undertaken in Africa. Niall through J. B. Barry and Partners international division, Barry International, has been providing engineering consultancy services for municipal infrastructure development projects in emerging economies abroad. For the last 20 years the constant flow of work to JBB offices and staff as a direct result of the projects which Niall has been involved with throughout the world is one of the main reasons why J.B.Barry and Partners is in such a strong position to weather Irelands economic storms and secure Irish jobs at home and abroad.

All of us at J. B. Barry and Partners are delighted for Niall to receive such recognition and we are proud to have him leading us in International Markets.

As a result of the project, previous pollution from contaminated storm-water overflows has been removed, which has led to a significant improvement in the water quality of the River Brosna and Lough Ennell. The project will continue to have a positive impact on the ecology of the lake and will benefit all users of this important natural amenity area.

International Engineer of the Year Niall McDermott caught the travel bug early in his career. Having graduated as a civil engineer from UCC in 1974, he travelled to Africa on an assignment in the late 1970s.

"I went out to Zambia for six months and ended up staying for 14 years," he recalls.
On his return to Ireland in 1993, he teamed up with JB Barry & Partners to establish Barry International, a new division of the firm which would focus on the provision of classical engineering consultancy services required for municipal infrastructure development projects in emerging economies such as Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, Gaza, Lebanon, Qatar, Uganda, Lesotho and St Lucia.

Among these projects is the largest water infrastructure project ever undertaken in Africa - the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

This is a bilateral project between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa which will deliver much need bulk water supplies to the city of Johannesburg and its environs.

On completion, the project will include the highest concrete faced rock-fill dam in Africa and a 38.2km long and 5.2m diameter transfer tunnel, along with associated infrastructure such as roads, bulk power supply, water supply and telecommunications.

Barry International was appointed in July 2011 to assist in getting the €1.2 billion project up and running.

McDermott is team leader of a resident four person team which is supported with technical expertise from JB Barry departments in Ireland as required.
"The project is actually quite simple from an engineering point of view", he says. "It involves big dams and big tunnels with gravity taking the water from the mountains to Johannesburg, so there is no need for pumps or anything.

"We assisted the client moving the project ahead and we have not put in place a project management consultant for the detailed design and construction phases. We will be finishing our work on the project early next year but we would hope to be involved again in later phases as the project isn't due for completion until 2021."

McDermott adds. "Having gone through the first big recession in the 1970s and 1980s, the international work has been very welcome in helping us deal with the economic downturn this time around."
21st July 2014
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