HISTORY

For more than 40 years, the UP NEC takes pride in contributing to national development through engineering solutions that utilize the expertise of the academe and at the same time improve the processes and operations of both the government and the industry, and ultimately, uplift the lives of Filipino people.

January 27, 1978
History
UP NEC
The University of the Philippines National Engineering Center (UP NEC) was formally established through the Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1295 on January 27, 1978. By virtue of the PD, the UP NEC is mandated to strengthen and ensure a steady supply of technical manpower in the various fields of engineering and to develop technologies that utilize indigenous resources and are appropriate to the needs of local industries. The UP NEC serves as the extension arm of the UP College of Engineering (UP COE) where industry, government, academe, professional societies, and development organizations can turn to for solutions to their engineering problems. In line with its mandate, the UP NEC offers services such as professional engineering training programs, technical consultancy, research and development, and publications and engineering information. For more than 40 years, the UP NEC takes pride in contributing to national development through engineering solutions that utilize the expertise of the academe and at the same time improve the processes and operations of both the government and the industry, and ultimately, uplift the lives of Filipino people.
Early 70s
The Beginning
UP COE Faculty

During UP 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 Alfredo L. Juinio, Dr. Edgardo S. Pacheco wrote the concept paper. 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 UP NEC, a total of 33 UP 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 UP College of Engineering towards the Establishment of the National Engineering Center.”

The following year, Malacañang issued PD No. 1295 officially creating NEC as part of UP and distinct and separate from UP COE.

1978-1988
The Early Years
The Task of Implementing the Decree

The task of implementing the decree fell into the able hands of Dr. Abis, then the UP COE’s associate dean, who became the Acting Executive Director of UP NEC in 1978 and its Executive Director from 1979 to 1988. Prof. de la Peña became his assistant in 1979 until 1988. They organized the UP 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 UP 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 Highway, Department of Transportation and Communications, and Department of Trade and Industry.

Surmounting various challenges, the initial UP NEC team headed by Dr. Abis achieved the unexpected. From its modest office at the third floor of UP COE, the UP NEC grew out to having a separate building of its own in 1981. The existing specialized centers of the UP COE – 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 UP NEC.

Continuing education programs were also established. One of those programs was the Engineering Education Project funded by the Asian Development Bank. It aimed to upgrade the faculty and the facilities of engineering schools throughout the country. “The components of that program were distributed between the UP COE and UP NEC. The UP COE took care of running the Master of Education Engineering Program. The UP NEC, on the other hand, took care of the short-term training programs 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 by 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 Prof. Nestor Rañeses, Eugene Gonzales, and Prof. Edgardo Atanacio as project and development consultants. They scouted and 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. 

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 the “Selective Dissemination of Information Project” where engineering clients could request certain types of information based on the journals and other materials that UP NEC was receiving. The UP NEC team also started producing and disseminating the Philippine Engineering Journal (PEJ) in 1980. It is a publication that serves as a national medium of exchange of technical information and dissemination of engineering knowledge.

1988-1993
The 1990s
Dr. Francisco L. Viray

Dr. Francisco L. Viray took over the leadership from Dr. Abis  and served as Executive Director from 1988 to 1993. Assisting him as Assistants to the Executive Director were Dr. Alexander P. Paran (1988-1990), Dr. Angela D. Escoto (1990-1991), and Prof. Artemio P. Magabo (1991-1992). Prof. Magabo later served as Deputy Executive Director (1992-1995). 

Dr. Viray wasn’t going to rest on the UP NEC’s laurels. His team sought to contribute to the accomplishments of Dr. Abis and Prof. dela Peña. For one, the team led the establishment of the Continuing Engineering Education Unit (CEEU) that was composed of faculty representatives from all engineering departments. The CEEU updated the existing continuing education program and expanded the number of courses. In addition, Dr. Viray’s team initiated facilities upgrade and incentive programs for staff. 

The support of alumni members who have key positions in the industry, government, and educational sectors led to an increase in the number of participants in training programs and additional industry joint undertakings. UP NEC was also able to provide free training programs to faculty members in the Western Visayas through a joint undertaking with the Bureau of Higher Education, now the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Dr. Viray considered the unification of leadership of UP COE and UP NEC as the highlight of his term. It was really the intention of the faculty that the Dean and Executive Director be one and the same. Since UP NEC acts as the research and extension arm of UP COE, it would be better to coordinate activities with only one person in charge.

Prof. Magabo credited the spur of UP NEC’s development during Dr. Viray’s term largely in part with the unification of leadership. Many more UP COE faculty members became involved with UP NEC projects and activities. 

 But the unification of posts also presented a different kind of problem. “Dr. Viray saw the need for someone who would be able to run the day-to-day operation of the center. There was no position available for this particular job when it was created,” Prof. Magabo recalled.

In 1992, Prof. Magabo became UP NEC’s first Deputy Executive Director and he would serve under Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea (1993-1997). 

During Dr. Vea’s term, the UP NEC took the lead role in the Engineering Science Education Project (ESEP) funded by DOST. Dr. Vea contended, “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 UP NEC’s involvement with the ESEP illustrated its national scope. Dr. Vea expressed, “UP NEC was created not only for UP. The 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 UP NEC is the appropriate instrument for that. While the Dean takes care of the concerns of 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 UP NEC.”

It was also under Dr. Vea’s term that UP NEC received its accreditation as a Training Institution in the area of ‘Engineering and Technical Courses’ from the Civil Service Commission.

Dr. Francisco L. Viray took over the leadership from Dr. Abis  and served as Executive Director from 1988 to 1993. Assisting him as Assistants to the Executive Director were Dr. Alexander P. Paran (1988-1990), Dr. Angela D. Escoto (1990-1991), and Prof. Artemio P. Magabo (1991-1992). Prof. Magabo later served as Deputy Executive Director (1992-1995).  

Dr. Viray wasn’t going to rest on the UP NEC’s laurels. His team sought to contribute to the accomplishments of Dr. Abis and Prof. dela Peña. For one, the team led the establishment of the Continuing Engineering Education Unit (CEEU) that was composed of faculty representatives from all engineering departments. The CEEU updated the existing continuing education program and expanded the number of courses. In addition, Dr. Viray’s team initiated facilities upgrade and incentive programs for staff. 

The support of alumni members who have key positions in the industry, government, and educational sectors led to an increase in the number of participants in training programs and additional industry joint undertakings. UP NEC was also able to provide free training programs to faculty members in the Western Visayas through a joint undertaking with the Bureau of Higher Education, now the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Dr. Viray considered the unification of leadership of UP COE and UP NEC as the highlight of his term. It was really the intention of the faculty that the Dean and Executive Director be one and the same. Since UP NEC acts as the research and extension arm of UP COE, it would be better to coordinate activities with only one person in charge.

Prof. Magabo credited the spur of UP NEC’s development during Dr. Viray’s term largely in part with the unification of leadership. Many more UP COE faculty members became involved with UP NEC projects and activities.  

But the unification of posts also presented a different kind of problem. “Dr. Viray saw the need for someone who would be able to run the day-to-day operation of the center. There was no position available for this particular job when it was created,” Prof. Magabo recalled.

In 1992, Prof. Magabo became UP NEC’s first Deputy Executive Director and he would serve under Executive Director Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea (1993-1997). 

During Dr. Vea’s term, the UP NEC took the lead role in the Engineering Science Education Project (ESEP) funded by DOST. Dr. Vea contended, “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 UP NEC’s involvement with the ESEP illustrated its national scope. Dr. Vea expressed, “UP NEC was created not only for UP. The 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 UP NEC is the appropriate instrument for that. While the Dean takes care of the concerns of 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 UP NEC.”

It was also under Dr. Vea’s term that UP NEC received its accreditation as a Training Institution in the area of ‘Engineering and Technical Courses’ from the Civil Service Commission.

1997
Into the 21st Century
The past years for UP NEC

The past years for UP NEC were marked by significant involvement from the faculty. There was also progress in terms of developing wide-ranging courses and training programs that cater not only to engineers but also to other technical and professionals as well. 

In 1997, Prof. Atanacio, took over the dual role of UP COE Dean and UP NEC Executive Director from Dr. Vea. This was considered a difficult period not only for UP NEC but for the whole country too as the Asian region experienced a 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 implement creative and innovative means to keep the center afloat. She focused on organizing lecture series, instead of short courses, on pressing topics of the day, such as construction management and preventive maintenance.

Prof. Atanacio and Dr. Matias were also confronted by the lack of research initiatives from and within the UP COE. Dr. Matias recounted that “There were only a few faculty members that had an interest in research. 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 USAID and World Bank.”

The research 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 D. Mendoza became Deputy Executive Director. He recalled the Engineering Enhancement Program 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. He disclosed that “This was one training program wherein UP NEC staff experienced working and coordinating closely with the faculty.” The 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 asserted that it was imperative to maintain an atmosphere of unity and cooperation among the UP NEC Staff to develop and implement effectively its projects and training programs and to support the research and development initiatives of UP COE. 

But even then, the willingness of the faculty to do research and consultancy work for UP NEC still proved to be a challenge. In terms of consulting and research, not all faculty members were interested in doing these apart from their teaching jobs. It was a problem that constantly plagued the UP 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 UP NEC and Dean of UP COE, her biggest challenge in her first year in 2004 was to initiate a paradigm shift in terms of faculty involvement. Dr. Guevara recounted that “We had to convince the faculty members that you have to help the UP 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. Although the results were not instantaneous, faculty members’ participation in UP NEC programs dramatically increased from 20% to 80%.”

“In addition, the number of engineers and other technical and professionals that were trained by UP NEC rose exponentially. The range of courses also expanded. The links between UP NEC’s projects and UP COE’s graduate programs were also formalized. There were 2 UP NEC programs that were linked to UP COE’s graduate programs. One is with the National Electrification Administration and Energy Engineering program, and the other one with the Philippine Constructors Association and the Civil Engineering (CE) program. With that last one, UP COE also gained something from that engagement because the CE program now includes a Construction Management program, which we didn’t have before,” Dr. Guevara explained.

The UP NEC has become, in Dr. Guevara’s own words, a “lean, mean machine” with people who are passionate to serve and succeed. It was made possible under the kind of leadership that was fearless, visionary, and uncompromising that past and present leaders exercised. This leadership was matched by the dedication and hard work of UP NEC staff.

After serving as the Deputy Executive Director during the terms of Dr. Vea and Prof. Atanacio, Dr. 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 dynamic support from staff, UP NEC worked hard in further improving its operations and performance. In 2015, UP NEC received the Philippine Quality Award Level 1. This signaled UP NEC’s journey towards organizational efficiency and performance excellence. The award branded UP NEC’s commitment to quality management system and resulted in the creation of new training programs such as the Public Procurement Specialist Certification Course and Business Analytics Certification Program. 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. Staff 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 a reward and recognition system.

Dr. Rizalinda L. de Leon assumed office as UP COE Dean and UP NEC Executive Director in September 2016. Prior to these appointments, she served as the Editor-in-Chief of PEJ. 

Dr. de Leon and Deputy Executive Director Dr. Mili-Ann M. Tamayao envisioned UP NEC as a dynamic partner for development; a public institution that will remain true 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 Dr. de Leon’s leadership was to intensify further research and academe-industry-government collaboration. Dr. de Leon and Dr. Tamayao worked closely with the Directors of UP NEC constituent centers such as UP BRS, UP NCTS, UP NHRC, and UP TCAGP, and the then newly created Philippine Learning Center for Environment and Social Sustainability or PHILCESS in formulating and implementing a unified, collaborative, and needs-based research agenda aligned with the Philippine Development Plan. To support these, UP NEC organized its first Director’s Strategic Planning and Administrative Strategic Planning in 2018.

In September 2019, Prof. Ferdinand G. Manegdeg was appointed as the new UP COE Dean and UP NEC Executive Director. Prof. Manegdeg’s vision of “All in…Always on,” centers on the idea of revitalizing UP COE and UP NEC as an inclusive and progressive unit that is pro-faculty, pro-REPS, pro-staff, pro-student, and pro-alumni. Dr. Ariel C. Blanco served as his Deputy Executive Director.

Faced by various challenges brought by the pandemic, Prof. Manegdeg and Dr. Blanco led UP NEC into seamless work arrangements to ensure continuity of services. Different efforts and initiatives were done in conducting training programs using different platforms and attracting and implementing research projects and consultancy. 

In October 2021, Dr. Blanco was replaced by Dr. Rosalie B. Reyes as he was seconded to the Philippine Space Agency as one of its directors. Dr. Reyes now focuses on designing and conducting programs geared towards sustainable development such as green infrastructure and facilities, wellness room, and health programs. 

On the last day of August 2022, UP COE had the turnover ceremonies of its deanship. Attended by both incumbent and the incoming college officials, as well as other faculty and staff, 19th UP COE Dean Ferdinand Manegdeg passed on the torch, or in this case the flag of the college, to the 20th UP COE Dean Maria Antonia Tanchuling. Her appointment was approved by the Board of Regents last August 25, 2022 and will serve the college until August 31, 2025. Her thrust revolves around the concept of “Engineering Sustainable National Development via Excellence and Engagement.” Dean Tonette will also serve as UP NEC’s Executive Director, with Dr. Rosalie Reyes as her Deputy Executive Director.