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Newly inaugurated as president of the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Emirates Falcon Chapter, Girish Hira outlines his plans for his year in office.


Newly inaugurated as president of the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Emirates Falcon Chapter, Girish Hira outlines his plans for his year in office.

MEP: What do you hope to achieve during your ASHRAE presidential term?

I have seven goals for this year. My first goal is to increase the membership of the ASHRAE Emirates Falcon Chapter to around 450. The Chapter started in October 2003 with about 262 members and as of July 2007 we have 389 members.

There are several ways to do this: first, there are about 156 delinquent members, that is those who have not renewed the membership over the past six months, so I will have a committee to send gentle reminders to these people.

Second, we have an average attendance of 130-140 at local ASHRAE events, about 60% of which are non-members. These people have already shown they have an interest in ASHRAE by attending these events, so we will approach them to become members.

Increasing information

My second goal is for the Chapter to host at least three ASHRAE distinguished lecturers; three sponsored speakers; one workshop and four courses over the next year.

The first distinguished speaker was Kent Peterson, ASHRAE president, who gave a presentation in Dubai during August. On 11 February 2008 the second ASHRAE distinguished speaker, TSE Vincent of Parsons Hong Kong is due to give a seminar on district cooling in Asia. This will most likely be combined with a local speaker that will talk about district cooling in the Middle East.

A further speaker, Jan Sundell, is due to host an ASHRAE event in Dubai on 25 November. He's a professor at the Technical University of Denmark and plans to talk about ventilation and health.

We already have confirmed dates for four ASHRAE courses that will be held between October and January. These will be limited to 30 students per class to create an interactive workshop. This is the first year that the Chapter has held courses; we ran a Green Building workshop on 5 July ('Green Guidance', MEP Middle East, July, p17-18) and found that by awarding certificates and credits that will count towards professional development we can create a good attendance. A total of 3.5 credits will be awarded for each course.

With the Chapter Technology Transfer Committee (CTTC) we can involve more of the local engineers to educate and share their knowledge within ASHRAE worldwide.

ASHRAE holds great, unbiased networking events; if a vendor has a seminar it's likely to be a biased event, but in ASHRAE technical seminars are unbiased. We need sponsors, but they are not allowed to commercialise their presentations. Rather than talk about their products, they can explain the technology that goes around the product.

One of the challenges that we find is the lack of mechanical engineers in the region, it's very difficult to recruit. To counter this we held a course last year for third year engineering students that were to choose whether to become mechanical or chemical engineers - we're trying to encourage more students to become mechanical engineers.

Retaining members

My third goal as president is to reduce the delinquency rate [in the ASHRAE Falcon Chapter] from 156 members to about 50. The Chapter is hiring its first full-time administration assistant in September and their primary roles will be to follow up on delinquent memberships; update the membership database; prepare and send invitations for each event; and help to make travel arrangements for ASHRAE speakers.

Going online

To achieve my fourth goal we have secured a website - www.ashrae.ae - that is due to go live in mid-October. The data is currently being uploaded onto the website and it will contain information such as details of upcoming events, reports of events by local ASHRAE members, a feedback page and a list of future distinguished lecturers.

Gaining independence

My fifth goal as president is to make the ASHRAE Emirates Falcon Chapter financially independent. To do this we need a strong database of sponsors; if it were not for the sponsors these events wouldn't exist.

My sixth goal is to attract both local and regional speakers to present at ASHRAE events. We have a wealth of talent available within the Middle East and there are various ASHRAE presentations and courses online, with instructions on how to conduct and host courses. One opportunity I am examining is the downloading of such courses to be hosted by local speakers.

My final goal for my presidential year is to create a strong succession team. When the ASHRAE Emirates Falcon Chapter was formed in October 2003 the office term was two years, however from 2007 this has been shortened to one year.

We want the board to have more newcomers and we want people to grow with the board. There is a lot of work to be done in the region and one person alone cannot do this. We would like more members to become involved in the operations of the Chapter.

ASHRAE Emirates Falcon Chapter in brief

• ASHRAE Emirates Falcon Chapter was founded in October 2003.

•There are currently around 390 members registered with the Emirates Falcon Chapter.

• Girish Hira is the third president of the Emirates Falcon Chapter.

• The Emirates Falcon Chapter is the second biggest ASHRAE Chapter outside of the USA; Hong Kong is the largest international Chapter.

• The Chapter initially covered the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, however in 2006 a separate Chapter was formed in Bahrain and a Section was created in Qatar.

ASHRAE Emirates Falcon Chapter is scheduled to hold its next workshop on 20 October 2007. Entitled ‘Fundamentals of heating and cooling loads (I-P)'. This will be hosted by Eng Samir Traboulsi, a senior lecturer at the American University of Beiruit.

The full-day event will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott, Green Community, Dubai. It will cover several topics including how to find and use local climate data; the effects of air infiltration and ventilation; plus how to use the transfer function method. For more details email: ashrae@rhira.com.

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