Building on the past, looking to the future

21 October 2015

According to the movie “Back to the Future 2”, October 21 2015 is the day when Marty McFly will arrive from the past to save his child from prison. This has been designated “Marty McFly Day”,and heavily trailed by news services worldwide, with events based around the famous time travelling deLorean. There have been jokey news items bemoaning the non-appearance of the hover board we were promised by Hollywood, forgetting that the film did correctly predict flat screen televisions, while missing completely the appearance of smart phones. A reminder, perhaps, that Hollywood doesn’t actually have a time machine.

Also in the news has been “Ada Lovelace Day”, October 13, celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths – nowadays grouped together, in the English speaking world, as “STEM.” Named after Ada Lovelace, famed as the first computer programmer, but in reality a fascinating character who defies simple categorisation, the aim was to present role models for young women who aspire to careers in STEM, showing that there is no need to let custom or prejudice overrule their hopes for the future.

October 14 was celebrated as “World Standards Day”, an opportunity to raise the public profile of a system that brings huge commercial and personal benefits to us all, and something EEMUA has commented on. A hint of some of the issues still to be overcome in the field can be seen by noting that the US celebration of World Standards Day took place this year on October 1.

In other words, there is no shortage of events which look back to the future. Some are more worthy than others. Most look back to the past to improve the future, which is how we learn. Marking this learning with a special day is a way of popularising the process. In reality, learning takes place every day. For employees of EEMUA member companies, who work with high value equipment in high hazard environments, there is an additional complication. We learn best through making mistakes – but for them, this is not an option. EEMUA allows them to learn from other people’s mistakes – and their successes. 

I will add one more special date to the diary; November 18 2015. This is the date of the EEMUA AGM and Council Meeting, where EEMUA Council will decide the future direction of their association, as well as reviewing the developments of the past year. This will be the latest such meeting in a series stretching back to 1950. Marty McFly would feel right at home.