History of the Chamber
Before the birth of the Chamber, Malta’s engineers could become members of one or more of three organisations. One was The Malta Joint Group of the Council of Engineering Institutions of the UK, officially sponsored by the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Today the Group calls itself the Group of Professional Engineers and represents all the institutions that are members of the Engineering Council. Then there was the Joint Group of the Institution of Marine Engineers and the Royal Institute of Naval Architects; still active today. Finally there was the Malta Association of Electrical Engineers, no longer in existence since it was absorbed into the Chamber when this was formed.
The history of the Chamber of Engineers has been compiled by Prof Robert Ghirlando.
Malta Joint Group
The Malta Joint Group is set up in 1961. The Group was based on regulations that had been issued by the Institutions of Civil, Electrical and of Mechanical Engineers.
Institutions of Civil, Electrical and of Mechanical Engineers
The Institutions of Civil, Electrical and of Mechanical Engineers agreed to allow the Joint Group to encompass members of other Institutions belonging to the Council of Engineering Institutions.
The issue of a local institution was discussed at various AGMs of the Joint Group. In many Commonwealth countries, Joint Groups had evolved into national institutes of engineers. In 1968, the committee of the Joint Group studied the possibility of forming a Malta Federation of Engineering Organisations. A paper was submitted to the AGM and a sub-committee formed.
1969 - 1970
Formation of the Malta Association of Electrical Engineers
The notion of a Federation was dropped, and the sub-committee was charged with studying ways and means of obtaining government recognition of professional engineers. The setting up of a national institution of engineers can be traced back to those days when it was discussed seriously by some officers of the Joint Group and the Institution of Electrical Engineers. These discussions led to the formation of the Malta Association of Electrical Engineers.
Discussions were held at the Office of the Prime Minister but these led to nowhere; a stumbling block appears to have been the definition of a mechanical engineer.
Founding Members of the Malta Federation of Professional Bodies
The Malta Federation of Professional Bodies was setup on the 19th February. The Malta Association of Electrical Engineers being one of the founding members.
The Malta Association of Electrical Engineers prepared a draft bill for a law to give professional status to engineers. But in June a general election was held which led to a change in Government, and a halt to the process of gaining recognition for the process of gaining recognition for the engineering profession; this would not be the only time that a general election would stop progress on this issue.
Foundation for the Chamber of Professional Engineers
At the AGM of the Joint Group of July 1975, it was agreed that the committee should set up a Working Party to examine “what further steps the Joint Group can take to develop the aims of its component institutions in the particular circumstances of Malta”.
Survey questionnaire provides background of the Joint Group formation. The questionnaire showed membership of 258, it being made up of Electrical (92), Mechanicals (56), Civil (40), Marine (34), Electronic/radio (11), Naval architects (10), Others (15). Following this work and the results of the survey, the three organisations set up a joint sub-committee to work towards the setting up of a local national institute of engineers, the Chamber of Professional Engineers.
Formation of the Chamber of Engineers
On the 29th January 1978, a notice appeared in The Sunday Times of Malta saying that The Malta Joint Group of the Council of Engineering Institutions, the Malta Association of Electrical Engineers and the Joint Royal Institution of Naval Architects and Institute of Marine Engineers (Malta Branch) were working together to set up a Maltese Chamber of Professional Engineers. A Steering Committee had in fact been set up for this purpose, composed of representatives of these three bodies, namely Mr A. Camilleri, Mr. A. Raimondo, Mr. J. Abela, Mr. T. Cusens, Mr. H. Spiteri and Mr. A. Cachia.
The first meeting open to all bona-fide engineers to discuss the setting up of the Chamber was held on the 9th April 1978. This meeting was meant only as a preliminary one prior to a general meeting to approve a statute and elect the first Council. A draft statute was in fact presented and discussed at this meeting. Further discussions were held at a second meeting on the 17th April. We were then given up to the 28th April to submit further amendments, and a third meeting was held on the 19th May to discuss the amendments submitted by various people. Finally a meeting was held on the 9th June to approve the outstanding items of the Draft Statute of the Chamber of Professional Engineers and to elect its first Council Members.
The final draft of the statute was approved and the first members elected. All these meetings were held at the Building of the Professional Bodies in Wilga Street, Paceville, which also housed the Malta Association of Electrical Engineers, who were founder members of the Malta Federation of Professional Bodies.
On the 9th June 1978 The Chamber of Engineers is officially founded. The first council meeting was held straight after the meeting and proceeded to elect the first officials. Mr Albert Camilleri was elected as the first president of the Chamber, Mr. Joe Abela as Vice-President, Mr Tom Cusens as Hon. Secretary, Mr Victor Sciberras as Hon. Treasurer, Mr Paul Licari as Hon. Assistant Secretary. The other elected members were Mr Henry Mallia, Mr Joe Agius, Mr Harry Spiteri, Mr Joe Cuschieri (a student) and Ing. Robert Ghirlando.
1981 - 1987
The Chamber insists for the Formation of an Engineering Warrant
The Chamber’s priority was the pursuance of the issue of the warrant. Another election put paid to their efforts and the matter had once again to be shelved. In 1984, The Chamber submits a detailed memorandum, including a draft bill to Government. No progress was achieved.
A thorough revision of the statute was undertaken by Mr. Debono. He also undertook a couple of surveys among the Chamber’s members. However, his greatest contribution came later, when he had the inspired idea of changing completely the concept on which the law for the warrant was based. The 1971 draft tried to define what a civil, electrical and mechanical engineer could do, which was not an easy thing to do and could also give rise to never-ending discussions to find a suitable answer. Maurice came up with the idea of defining what is required to be registered as a warranted engineer and leave the issue of what he can and cannot do to subsequent legislation and regulation. Indeed this is what happened. The present Engineering Profession Act only goes as far as laying down the rules for registration (and deregistration) of engineers. It is in other pieces of legislation that one then finds instances that require the services and signature of a warranted engineer.
Maurice Debono elected President of the Chamber and it was felt appropriate that he should lead the campaign for the warrant.
In 1987, A change in Government saw the Chamber meet with various members of the new Cabinet. Meetings were held with the (late) Hon Pierre Muscat, Parliamentary Secretary for Posts and Telephones on the 1st June, with Hon Michael Falzon, Minister for the Development of the Infrastructure on 15th June, with Hon Ninu Zammit, Parliamentary Secretary for Water and Energy on the 10th July, with Hon Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, Minister for Education on the 17th July and with Hon John Dalli, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry on the 23rd July. At each of these meetings, the issue of the warrant was discussed at length, and all Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries not only expressed support but stressed the need for the warrant and asked the Chamber to submit a proposal.
1988 - 1989
The Engineering Profession Act
In February 1988, the Chamber saw the passage through Parliament of the Engineering Profession Act. Prof Robert Ghirlando was actively involved in the parliamentary debate, assisting the Minister for Education, Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, who piloted the bill through the House.
In 1989, Maurice Debono passed away on the 23rd May. He saw the Engineering Profession Act become law but unfortunately not the issue of the first warrants.
The saga of the warrant was however not over. Although the Minister responsible for the Engineering Board, Michael Falzon, was very quick in setting up the Board, the law only gave this first Board one year’s life, after which it had to be made up of warrant holders. When the year was up, no warrants had as yet been issued. There were therefore no warrant holders to form the Board to replace the first one whose time was up. We were left without a Board. At first the Minister was reluctant to go to Parliament and change the law but it was clear that there was no other way out, so he did, the law was amended, the Board reconstituted and once again got on with the job. The first applications for the warrant were issued, engineers applied and all was set for the first warrants to be issued in December 1990 when we came up with a second hurdle. This time it was over who should sign the warrant. Traditionally, warrants were signed by the President of the Republic who had taken over this function from the (British) Governors. But the warrants for accountants and auditors were signed by the Minister, and ours were to follow suit. The Chamber was not happy with this and tried to insist with Government that the law should be changed in order for engineers’ warrants to be signed by the President as was the case for the warrants of the older profession, such as those of architects, lawyers and doctors.
1992 - 1993
Final Preparations for the Engineering Warrant
An EGM held on the 10th November 1992 confirmed the members’ wish to keep on insisting with Government. Government was however adamant, insisting that eventually all warrants would be signed by the respective Minister. After a long impasse, the Council of the Chamber felt that it was fighting a losing battle and that it was time to change tack.
Another EGM was held on the 13th May 1993. Members present agreed to accept the Minister’s assurances that all warrants would eventually be signed by the Minister concerned and approved a motion calling on the Minister to put the law in operation and to proceed with the issue of the warrants.
The Council of the Chamber called another two EGMs, one on the 23rd September to approve a code of ethics to submit to the Minister and another on the 29th November to change the statute of the Chamber so that this would now be an association of warrant holders and so could be recognised by Government.
Legal Recognition of the Engineering Profession
The first warrant holders took their oath before the Chief Justice and another two judges on the 1st December 1993 and presented with their warrants on the 3rd December by the Minister for the Environment, Hon Michael Falzon. Thus ended the story for the legal recognition of the profession.
Past Presidents of Chamber
- 1978-80: Mr. Albert Camilleri, C.Eng., F.I.E.E.
- 1980-83: Mr. Joseph P. Abela, C.Eng., F.R.I.N.A., Eur.Ing.
- 1983-84: Inġ. Tom R. Cusens, B.Sc.Eng.(Hons.), C.Eng., MIEE, Eur.Ing.
- 1984-88: Inġ. Maurice Debono, Dip.Eng., Eur.Ing.
- 1988-91/1993-96: Prof. Robert Ghirlando, B.Sc.Eng., M.Eng., Ph.D., Eur.Ing.
- 1991-93: Inġ. Alexander Galea, B.Sc.Eng., C.Eng., M.I.Mech.E., Eur.Ing.
- 1996-98: Dr. Inġ. Daniel Muscat, B.Mech.Eng.(Hons.), M.Eng., Ph.D., Eur.Ing.
- 1998-99: Inġ. Joseph P. Sammut, B.Mech.Eng.(Hons.), Eur.Ing.
- 1999-02: Inġ. Alan Abela, B.Mech.Eng.(Hons.), M.Sc.(Lond.), M.A.S.H.R.A.E.
- 2002-06: Inġ. Alexander Tranter, B.Mech.Eng.(Hons.), M.Sc.(B’Ham), C.Eng. MIEE
- 2006-10: Inġ. Helga Pizzuto, B.Elec.Eng.(Hons.)
- 2010-14: Inġ. Saviour Baldacchino, B.Elec.Eng.(Hons.) Dip. Mgt., A.C.M.
- 2014-19: Inġ. Norman Zammit B.Elec.Eng. (Hons.), M.Sc. (Brunel), CBIFM, Eur.Ing.
- 2019-21: Dr Inġ. Daniel Micallef B.Mech.Eng. (Hons.), Ph.D. (TUDelft, Melit.)
- 2021-Present: Inġ. Malcolm Zammit B.Mech.Eng.(Hons.)