National Engineering Center
Please visit the new UP National Engineering Center Website at http://www.upnec.com
National Engineering Center was the featured article for March 2, 2009.(Celebrate)
The National Engineering Center is part of the University of the Philippines. It is the extension arm of the UP College of Engineering where industry, government agencies, and academic institutions can turn to for solutions to their engineering problems.
Formally established on January 27, 1978, the National Engineering Center (NEC) has, through the years, served as the UP College of Engineering’s (COE) research and extension arm. It has trained countless professional engineers and non-engineers alike with its continuing education program. Aiding both government and industry through consultancy, the NEC has been at the forefront of engineering research and development in the country with its specialized research centers.
As NEC celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2008, some of the men and women who have stood at its helm and whose personal and professional vision have guided and helped shape this proud institution, have come forward to relate the NEC story.
During a COE faculty conference in the early 70s, then dean Prof. Alfredo L. Juinio proposed the idea of a national engineering center that would focus on research and development, consultancy, and continuing engineering education. With inputs from Dean Juinio, Dr. Edgardo S. Pacheco wrote the concept of a national engineering center. Dean Juinio also asked Dr. Pacheco, Dr. Leopoldo V. Abis, and Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña to draft a decree.
In anticipation of the kind of expertise needed for the NEC, a total of 33 COE faculty members were sent abroad in 1977 to work on their graduate and post-graduate degrees under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project entitled “Technical Assistance to the U.P. College of Engineering towards the Establishment of the National Engineering Center.”
The following year, Malacañang issued Presidential Decree No. 1295 creating the National Engineering Center as part of the University of the Philippines and distinct and separate from the UP College of Engineering.
The task of implementing the decree fell into the able hands of Dr. Leopoldo V. Abis, then the COE’s associate dean, who became the Acting Executive Director of NEC in 1978 and its Executive Director from 1979 to 1988. Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña became his assistant in 1979 until 1988. They organized the NEC by getting a core group composed of Jackie Castillo, Lando Calso, Nora Cabrera, Alexander Aportadera, Noel Matic, and Nanette Pelaez and Rodrigo Anastacio who came in later. Complementing the staff was an advisory board composed of the Executive Vice President of the UP System as Chairman, Dean of the UP College of Engineering (COE), two members appointed by the UP Board of Regents, President of the UP Alumni Engineers (UPAE), Undersecretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Surmounting various challenges, the initial NEC team headed by Dr. Abis achieved the unexpected. From its modest office at the third floor of the COE building, the NEC grew out to having a separate building of its own in 1981. The existing specialized centers of the College of Engineering—the Industrial Research Center (IRC), the National Hydraulic Research Center (NHRC), the Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry (TCAGP), the Transport Training Center (TTC), and the Building Research Service (BRS) – were institutionalized under the NEC.
Continuing education programs were also established. One of those programs was the Engineering Education Project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The objective was to upgrade the faculty and the facilities of engineering schools throughout the country. “The components of that program were distributed between the COE and the NEC. The COE took care of running the Master of Education Engineering Program. The NEC, on the other hand, took care of the short-term trainings which were conducted in the ten resource-based schools (considered to be the best in engineering) and twenty participating schools all over the country,” explained Prof. dela Peña. During its early years, the center already forged closer linkage with industry and government through various consultancy projects and partnerships. A consultancy unit was formed with faculty members—namely, Prof. Nestor Rañeses, Eugene Gonzales, and Prof. Edgardo Atanacio—as project and development consultants. They tried to scout projects for NEC. The Center managed projects on energy, partnering with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Power Corporation. The partnership with DOE involved training people, particularly engineers, on energy saving and utilization and on alternative sources of energy. It also included designing and doing a feasibility study of putting up a fuels- and appliance-testing laboratory for DOE. The NPC project led to the discovery of the possible uses of fly ash in construction. NEC also undertook the “Preventive Maintenance Project” with the support of UNDP and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Laboratories, such as the microelectronics laboratory, machine equipment and design fabrication laboratory, and the computer laboratory, were also launched. Through a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) grant, the Publications and Engineering Information Service (PEIS) was set-up. The PEIS pioneered in the so called “Selective Dissemination of Information Project” where engineer clients could request certain types of information based on the journals and other materials that NEC was receiving. The NEC team also started coming out with the Philippine Engineering Journal in 1980.
NEC in the 90s
Dr. Francisco L. Viray (Executive Director, 1988 to 1993) took over the leadership of NEC from Dr. Abis. Assisting him were Dr. Alexander P. Paran (Assistant to the Executive Director, 1988 to 1990), Dr. Angela D. Escoto (Assistant to the Executive Director, 1990 to 1991), and Prof. Artemio P. Magabo (Assistant to the Executive Director, 1991 to 1992; Deputy Executive Director, 1992 to 1995). Dr. Viray wasn’t going to rest on the NEC's laurels. His team sought to improve what Dr. Abis and Prof. dela Peña had already accomplished. For one, the Continuing Engineering Education Unit (CEEU), composed of faculty representatives from all engineering departments, was established. The CEEU updated NEC’s existing continuing education program and expanded the number of courses. In addition, incentive programs were established for the COE and NEC staff, new courses were developed, and facilities were improved. The support of alumni members who have important positions in the industry, government, and educational sectors led to consistently high number of participants in NEC’s training programs and more industry partnerships and joint undertakings. NEC was also able to provide free training programs to faculty members in the Western Visayas through a joint undertaking with then Bureau of Higher Education now Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Dr. Viray considers the unification of leadership of the COE and the NEC as the highlight of his term. “It was really the intention of the faculty that the Executive Director of NEC & the Dean of COE be one and the same. Since NEC is the research and extension arm of the college, it would be better to coordinate activities with only one person in charge.”
Prof. Magabo credits the spur of NEC’s development during Dr. Viray’s term largely in part with the unification of leadership. Many more COE faculty members became involved with NEC projects and activities than ever before. But the unification of posts also presented a different kind of problem never before faced by the NEC. “Dr. Viray saw the need for someone who would be able to run the day-to-day operation of NEC. There was no position available for this particular job when the NEC was created,” Prof. Magabo recalled.
That same year Prof. Magabo became NEC’s first Deputy Executive Director and he would serve under that capacity well into the term of Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea (Executive Director, 1993 to 1997), Dr. Viray’s successor.
During Dr. Vea’s term, the NEC took the lead role in the Engineering Science Education Project (ESEP) funded by the Department of Science and Technology. Dr. Vea contends, “There were lots of projects going on at that time but the ESEP turned out to have more lasting consequences.” Through ESEP, funds were poured for faculty, library, laboratory facilities, infrastructure development in general, and graduate students’ scholarships for 19 ESEP schools which accounted for 50% enrollment of engineering schools. One of the project’s results was the formulation of the Peer Evaluation Process (PEP) instrument, a set of criteria to evaluate the engineering programs in the various areas in engineering education against which the progress of the ESEP schools could be gauged after the implementation of the project. Outside of the project, the Foundation for Engineering Education Development (FEED) was set up to conduct the evaluation. According to Dr. Vea, “The FEED is now leading the effort for the Philippines to become a member of the Washington Accord, which is important for Filipino engineers to be able to become members of international registers of engineers.” The NEC’s involvement with the ESEP illustrates the NEC’s national scope. As Dr. Vea puts it, “NEC was created not only for UP. NEC has a mandate for manpower development for the entire country. So it is important that the executive director continues to be active in the technical panel for engineering education. Because it is one manner where we were able to exert influence in the direction of manpower development for industry… We have concerns bigger than UP, and NEC is the appropriate instrument for that. While the Dean takes care of the concerns the College, (s)he also has to think about national concerns as far as engineering education and engineering practice are concerned. That was the way I looked at it. That’s the way I still look upon it as being the role of NEC.” It was also under Dr. Vea’s term that the NEC received its accreditation as a Training Institution in the area of ‘Engineering and Technical Courses’ from the Civil Service Commission.
NEC to the 21st Century
The last ten years of NEC were marked by significant involvement from the faculty of the COE. It was also during this period that the NEC progressed in terms of developing wide-ranging courses and trainings that cater not only to engineers but to non-engineers as well. All these accomplishments transpired not without challenges along the way.
In 1997, Prof. Edgardo G. Atanacio, took over the dual role of COE Dean and NEC Executive Director from Dr. Vea. This was considered a difficult period not only for the NEC but for the whole country as well, as the Asian region was then experiencing financial crisis. Many of the companies that send their employees to attend the center’s short courses and seminars were forced to take austerity measures. Enrollment in many of the short courses offered by the center went down. Dr. Aura C. Matias, who took over the post of Deputy Executive Director in 1996, had to oversee the day-to-day operations of the NEC, as well as creatively find ways to keep the center afloat. She managed this by implementing lecture series, instead of short courses, on pressing topics of the day, such as construction management and preventive maintenance.
Prof. Atanacio and Dr. Matias also faced the challenge of a lack of research initiative from within the COE faculty. “There were only a few faculty members that had the interest in research,” recounts Dr. Matias. “So our strategy at that time was to get big contracts, to get their feet wet. The projects were also mostly inter-disciplinary so we were able to tap into USAID and World Bank.” The researches ranged from climate change mitigation to public utilities and services. One such research, done in cooperation with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), persists today in the form of the Public Assessment Water Services (PAWS). In 2002, Dr. Herman Mendoza became deputy executive director. He recalled the Engineering Enhancement Program of the NEC as one of its highlights at that time because of the close involvement of the faculty members from the Departments of Engineering Science, Mechanical, and Civil Engineering. “This was one training program wherein NEC staff experienced working and coordinating closely with the faculty,” he disclosed. The engineering enhancement program aimed to strengthen the basic engineering skills of the new engineering graduates and help them prepare for the industry and their respective licensure examinations.
Dr. Mendoza also asserts that it was imperative to maintain an atmosphere of unity and cooperation among the NEC Staff to develop and implement effectively the projects and training programs of NEC and to support the research & development initiatives of the College of Engineering.
But even then, the willingness of the faculty to do research and consultancy work for the NEC still proved to be a challenge. “In terms of consulting and research, not all faculty members were intent on doing these apart from their teaching jobs,” Prof. Atanacio revealed. It was a problem that constantly plagued the NEC from the very beginning, and one that would be mitigated by his successor, Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara.
Under Dr. Guevara’s leadership as Executive Director of NEC and Dean of COE, her biggest challenge on her first year in 2004 was to initiate a paradigm shift in terms of faculty involvement in NEC activities. “We had to convince the faculty members that you have to help the NEC so that it can help you back. It was an enormous mindset change. Before, the faculty just minded their own work. But eventually we convinced them that we all have to work together,” Dean Gev, as addressed by her colleagues, reported. Although the results were not instantaneous, faculty members’ participation in NEC programs dramatically increased from 20% to 80%.
Aside from this initial success, the number of engineers and even non-engineers that were trained by NEC rose exponentially. The range of courses that the NEC was offering expanded. The links between the NEC’s projects and the COE’s graduate programs were also formalized. There are two NEC programs that are linked to the COE’s graduate programs. “One is with the National Electrification Administration and our Energy Engineering program, and the other one with the Philippine Constructors Association and the Civil Engineering program. With that last one, the COE also gained something from that engagement because the CE program now includes a Construction Management program, which we didn’t have before,” Dean Gev explained.
The NEC has become, in Dean Gev’s own words, a “lean, mean machine” with people who have a passion to serve and to succeed. And it was made possible under the kind of leadership—fearless, visionary, and uncompromising—that these men and women exercised. This leadership is matched only by the dedication and hard work of the NEC staff.
After serving as the Deputy Executive Director during the terms of Dr. Vea and Prof. Atanacio, Dr. Aura C. Matias then became Executive Director from 2010 to 2016. She focused on elevating the quality of services and creating national awareness about UP NEC. Dr. Matias and Deputy Executive Director Prof. Adeline A. Pacia envisaged UP NEC to become the “top in mind” institution for collaborative engineering solutions.
Through the bold leadership accompanied by a dynamic support from staff, UP NEC worked hard in improving further its operations and performance. In 2015, UP NEC received the Philippine Quality Award Level 1. This signalled UP NEC’s potential and journey towards organizational efficiency and performance excellence. The award branded UP NEC’s commitment to quality and resulted in the creation of new training programs such as the Public Procurement Specialist Certification and Business Analytics Certification programs. It also led to the recalibration of UP NEC’s research mandate, boosting the Project Development and Management Division to contract additional technical consultancy and research projects. These efforts created ripples of change. Employees became more fervent in helping UP NEC attain national significance. They felt challenged and motivated at the same time as the gains were translated into reward and recognition system.
The UP NEC Now
Dr. Rizalinda L. de Leon assumed office as the new Dean of UP COE and Executive Director of UP NEC on 1 September 2016. Prior to these appointments, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Engineering Journal, a bi-annual UP NEC publication that serves as a national medium of exchange of technical information and dissemination of engineering knowledge.
Dr. de Leon and Deputy Executive Director Dr. Mili-Ann M. Tamayao envision UP NEC as a dynamic partner for development; a public institution that will remain truthful to its mandate of providing steady and expanding resources of technical expertise, solutions, and information to its various stakeholders; and a national hub of engineering innovations and technology spurring sustainable growth and competitiveness.
One of the main thrusts of this current administration is to intensify further research and academe-industry-government collaboration. Dr. de Leon and Dr. Tamayao are working closely with the Directors of UP NEC constituent centers such as the UP Building Research Service (UP BRS), UP National Center for Transportation Studies (UP NCTS), UP National Hydraulic Research Center (UP NHRC), and UP Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry (UP TCAGP) in coming up and implementing a unified, collaborative, and needs-based research agenda aligned with the Philippine Development Plan.
Last January and March 2018, UP NEC Strategic Planning and the first-ever Director’s Strategic Planning were held, respectively. These activities aimed to assess previous performances, identify operational challenges, frame new targets, and craft UP NEC’s research directions.
Professional Engineering Training Division
UP NEC empowers engineers and non-technical people from various industries, government agencies and local government units through short courses, competency training programs, tailored in-house seminars, enhancement and updating programs. In line with its mandate, UP NEC believes that it must take an important role in national capacity building especially in areas that directly impact Filipino lives.
The PETD, under the supervision of the UP NEC Management Team and with the expertise extended by the faculty members of the College of Engineering and industry practitioners, works hard to offer relevant training programs and increase its offering to respond to the needs of a greater number of practicing engineers and those in the allied professions. With 42 seminars in 2005, it has increased its offering to 62 in 2006 and has offered 73 seminars in 2007. The total number of participants in 2005 was 1,043, 1,328 in 2006 and 1,592 in 2007.
Some of its programs are offered in collaboration with other government agencies namely, the National Electrification Administration for the UPNEC-NEA Competency Certification Training Program on Electric Power Distribution Engineering and the Commission on Higher Education for the CHED-UP Post-Baccalaureate Information Technology Bridging Program in Support of the Cyber Corridor. Other training programs are in the field of Geodetic Engineering, Construction Management and Engineering, Information Technology, Energy, Environment, Manufacturing (Operations Research, Quality Management, Process Control, Instrumentation, Operations and Maintenance), Facilities Management, Water Resources, Chemical Engineering, Project Management, and Materials Engineering.
With these programs, UP NEC envisions a nation with engineers delivering quality services and products, working together in building a stronger and progressive nation.
Project Development and Management Division
UP NEC renders extension and consultancy services to various firms in the industry and government agencies. Its consultants are drawn mainly, but not exclusively, from the College of Engineering. NEC also undertakes research development projects relevant to the needs of the industry. It has conducted research and has acquired the necessary experience in hydrology and water resources, instrumentation and control, microelectronics, manufacturing, materials engineering, mining engineering, operation research and production, public performance assessment, power systems, environmental impact assessment and software and systems development. NEC engages in contract research with various government agencies and private institutions such as Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), PA Consulting, Inc., Louis Berger & Renardet Consulting, Evergreen Environmental Resources, Inc., and United Nations Development Programme, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Trade and Industry, and European Commission.
Engineering Information and Marketing Division
The Engineering Information and Marketing Division of UP NEC compiles information about existing research and possible research information from the different departments or centers of the COE. It tracks and reports on all NEC research projects. It compiles information on current research facilities and equipment from each research unit and coordinates the efficient use of such facilities and equipment. The EIMD aims to initiate new research groups and to facilitate the joining of new members into existing research groups. Information dissemination on current research and research opportunities to COE members are done through the marketing arm of NEC. It continuously updates information and contacts for research funding. The EIMD publishes research results information in NEC managed periodicals and technical bulletins like the Philippine Engineering Journal and the UP COE/NEC Technical Bulletin. The Philippine Engineering Journal (PEJ) is a semi-annual peer-reviewed publication of original works, reviews, discussions, and technical papers in Engineering. The UP COE/NEC Technical Bulletin serves as a medium for disseminating the results of research and development activities undertaken by faculty, students, research staff and alumni of the College of Engineering and National Engineering Center, through the publication of technical articles, notes and research briefs in all fields of engineering.
The EIMD spearheads marketing and promotion efforts such as company visits, participation in trade fairs, media releases, and other related activities. The Marketing Office is at the forefront of asserting NEC’s role as the authority in engineering and technology issues with national significance.
The EIMD also provide support services to the other units of NEC. Its primary function is to liaise with NEC’s various clients and partners in professional engineering training, extension, research and consulting. It is essentially the “face” of NEC. The Marketing Office maintains and nurtures contacts that include government officials, members of the academe, industry partners particularly human resource development departments, and media, among others.
NEC Centers of Research
Building Research Service
On 29 July 1971, the Building Research Service (BRS) was created to foster and undertake integrated research, advisory, and information dissemination on building and housing in the Philippines.
Through the years, BRS has actively pursued research on the development of building materials, products, and processes consistent with the principles of waste minimization and reduction of negative impacts on health and environment. It has also worked on developing and enhancing testing procedures and standards for new and indigenous building materials and technology. Moreover, BRS performs laboratory and field tests for both government and private entities, accepts contract research, provides consultancy and testing services, and develops training programs.
National Center for Transportation Studies
Transport Training Center (TTC) was established on 12 July 1976 to upgrade the capability of government personnel concerned with transportation through intensive and practical training in the fields of traffic engineering, planning and management. Then in 1993, TTC was renamed and is now referred to as the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS).
For over three decades, the NCTS has worked in supporting academic instruction, promoting and conducting scholarly research and training, information dissemination, and other extension services in the field of transportation. Presently, NCTS is actively promoting the development and greater use of sustainable modes of transportation and doing research activities, in cooperation with concerned government agencies, towards the development of a well-integrated national transportation system.
Tel No. (632) 9818500 local 3551
National Hydraulic Research Center
Established in 1973 as a unit of the University, the National Hydraulic Research Center (NHRC) was created to conduct research and provide technical advice on various problems of water resources development and management, hydrology, hydraulic, coastal engineering, fluid mechanics, and other related field.
In its more than three decades of existence, NHRC has developed and serves as the national center for water-resource expertise and provides the support organization and physical facilities for conducting the necessary physical and mathematical modeling research and producing technical outputs, studies, and advice in water resources engineering and management needed by government and the private sector. Most of these studies involve the evaluation of proposed dams, hydroelectric plants, irrigation works, water supply systems, ports and harbors, and flood control structures.
Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry
The Training Center for Applied Geodesy and Photogrammetry (TCAGP) was established in 1964 and continues to be a center of excellence for education, training, and research in the fields of surveying and mapping in the Philippines.
In 2001, the Center has introduced major changes in its Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) short course offerings and has made training schedules more convenient for prospective clients. Coupled with the acquisition of state-of-the-art equipment, selected short courses have been updated and have been revised to impart knowledge that is more responsive and relevant to the needs of the government agencies, industry, and private individuals engaged in the inventory and planning of natural resources.
Philippine Learning Center for Environment and Social Sustainability
The Philippine Learning Center for Environment and Social Sustainability at the UP National Engineering Center is envisioned to be the provider of capacity building programs to increase the country’s ability to plan, build and maintain infrastructure projects for the greatest benefit to communities with the least impact on the environment and society. In cooperation with development partners such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, the Philippine Learning Center offers training programs aimed at strengthening skilled technical capacity in the areas of Environment and Social Safeguards (e.g., Environment and Social Impact Assessment, Indigenous Peoples, Involuntary Resettlement). The University of the Philippines National Engineering Center (UP NEC) was identified as the institution to house the Philippine Learning Center for Environment and Social Sustainability
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