5TH ERDT CONFERENCE ON
“PHILIPPINE COMPETITIVENESS” HELD*
Celeste Ann Castillo Llaneta
To commemorate its fourth year of implementation, the Engineering Research and Development for Technology (ERDT) Program held its 5th ERDT Conference on September 10, 2010 at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, with the theme “Philippine Competitiveness through ERDT”.
“The theme rightly focuses on what I consider an urgent concern for the government, the academe, and the private sector in an era characterized by trade liberalization and globalization,” said Prof. Marcelo P. Salazar, chancellor of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), in his opening remarks. MSU-IIT is one of the eight consortium universities under the ERDT Program. He added, “To be competitive in this era, a country can no longer be dependent only on the traditional factors of production or a specific traditional advantage. There is a need to have high levels of learning and skills, continuous innovation, efficient communication and transport infrastructure, and supporting, enabling environment. Attaining competitiveness is difficult, especially for developing countries, but it can be facilitated by focusing on technology.” These are what the ERDT has been doing for the past three years.
For its 5th conference, the ERDT Steering Committee gathered together representatives of four departments in the government—the Departments of Science and Technology (DOST), Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Energy (DoE), and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). They presented their thrusts for a competitive Philippines to a record-setting audience of over 750, consisting of ERDT MS and PhD scholars, Engineering faculty and administrative officials from the eight consortium universities, government and private industry representatives, and guest professors from abroad.
DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo noted in his keynote speech that the 5th ERDT Conference’s theme was close to his heart. He described some of DOST’s innovative ideas and projects undertaken and considered within the first two months of his term where innovation technology played a crucial role. These project include:
- The rehabilitation and reactivation of a flood monitoring system that could help prevent another disaster the scale of Typhoon Ondoy; through the use of local technology, this will cost P3M to P5M only instead of the estimated P200M as previously quoted if imported technology will be used;
- A flood monitoring and forecasting system on the DOST website that will show the actual flood water level of the Marikina-Pasig River at an interval of 10 minutes and the forecast level every after two hours; a similar flood monitoring and forecasting system for the country’s 18 major river plains, showing actual and projected flood levels for specific barangays in every river system; both systems to use 100 percent locally-developed technologies that will cost a fraction of the cost of a similar system imported from abroad;
- A typhoon-tracking system to be based on low pressure indicators and to use more automatic weather stations, which will generate a map of the Philippines indicating low and high pressure zones and will be updated every 10 minutes—a system that few countries, if any, are utilizing; this system shall use locally developed innovations of technology, as well;
- The installation of buoys with radio stations located around 6 km away from shorelines that will monitor and measure the size of ocean waves in order to supply ships, boats, and fishermen with the actual size of waves, as well as typhoon signals; two of these have already been purchased at P32M each, but Sec. Montejo is hopeful that by using local technology, the DOST can reduce the cost of the buoys to P5M each;
- A locally-developed monorail or mass transit system equivalent to the MRT or LRT, but through the use of value engineering, to develop a local system that will cost only a fourth or a fifth of the estimated cost of imported systems;
- Windmills in the Ilocos and other regions where the use of wind energy is a viable option, at perhaps 40 percent less than the cost of imported technology;
- Design and construction of ship-to-shore cranes through the cooperation of local port operators, to cost less than those purchased abroad with the hope of eventually reducing shipping and port costs and developing a crane-manufacturing industry in the country;
- A simple but effective mosquito-trap that will limit the breeding of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
“For our country to really develop, our economy or part of our economy should be science and technology (S&T)-based, and we in the DOST hope to be the catalyst for this,” said Sec. Montejo, citing three main components of this goal, namely; 1.) to create or develop S&T human resources, where the ERDT program plays a key role in developing the critical mass of the S&T workforce needed to achieve a technology-based economy; 2.) to create the environment that would encourage these S&T professionals to stay in the Philippines so that the country can benefit from their expertise and knowledge; and 3.) to encourage the private sector to go into S&T-based activities.
“This is our direction in the DOST,” Sec. Montejo concluded, “All of you here have a role in it. Our country will prosper only through science and technology, and this is a given fact.”
Engineering and technology innovation also form the core of programs and projects of the other departments. Assistant Secretary Raul C. Asis presented the thrusts of the DPWH for the next six years, which includes the maintenance, rehabilitation, improvement or upgrading and the construction of the country’s national arterial roads, secondary roads, and bridges; prioritizing roads that will serve designated key agricultural production areas, tourism destinations and growth centers; and encouraging more private-public road projects.
*5th ERDT Conference, Philippine Competitiveness through ERDT, Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila, Philippines