STEM Career Focus! Science can take you places!

Choose your Future is the theme for Science Week 2020 and today for the Midlands Science Festival we have a number of career talks taking place in Midlands schools with topics ranging from Technology and innovation to Nanotechnology and Girls in STEM.
We would like to thank our speakers from Intel, Accenture and Trinity College Dublin who are virtually delivering these high value presentations to students. It is fantastic to see how science and technology can be brought to life when someone new and inspiring comes into the classroom or onto the screen and tells a science story from a different perspective.
Lucy Prendeville, our speaker from Trinity College Dublin said,
‘Science can take you places. I would highly recommend studying a science-related course at university level to any student that enjoys Biology, Physics or Chemistry in Secondary School. There are so many options out there and many general science courses where students can really discover what areas they are most interested in. Of course, studying science at university will require long hours in the library and a lot of dedication! But it’s such an exciting career path that can take you anywhere.’
Thanks again to all of those participating and to the regional schools in Laois, Offaly and Westmeath for hosting.

Engineer’s Week celebrations in the Midlands

Engineers Week is a week-long festival of nationwide activities celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland and events kicked off on February 29th in a number of schools, libraries and other venues around the country.  The annual event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills and industry leaders ARUP, ESB, Intel and TII.

Midlands Science was delighted to host a range of activities across the region this week to celebrate engineering as a profession and to demonstrate to students of all ages just how much engineering is all around us in so much of what we do in everyday life. Dr Mindflip’s Ultimate Learning Experience is a fun, educational exploration kitted out to allow participants to explore the world and history of quantum physics.  It takes place in a specially designed caravan which rolled into Athlone as part of the annual Engineer’s Week celebrations. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Institute of Physics this takes a gaming approach to learning so each choice that people make determines what will happen next. We had a great day at the Aidan Heavy Library in Athlone with Dr. Mindflip and look forward to seeing this event back in the Midlands again soon.

In advance of Engineers Week, Midlands also teamed up with a range of local and national partners recently to host a special week of career workshops, hands on project work and inspirational talks from companies such as ORS, Robotics and Drives, Shay Murtagh, Waterways Ireland, Steripack, and Cpl resources. A number of transition year students from Coláiste Mhuire Mullingar participated in the week to ‘Experience Engineering’ which also focused on other various key learning aspects such as, CV preparation, interview skills and internship opportunities.

Gillian Murtagh of Shay Murtagh Precast Concrete commented,

‘Shay Murtagh was delighted to recently team up with Midlands Science to help inspire local students and enable them to make that all-important connection between in-class learning and real-world engineering careers. We are passionate about our role of encouraging the workforce of the future and while we are all seeing plenty of new job opportunities and career paths for graduates within the engineering profession, the skills shortages continue. Therefore, we must all work together to build awareness and of the industry and showcase to students the vast diversity of both science and engineering fields in a practical and easy to understand manner and events such as this provide the ideal opportunity to do so here in our own region.’

For something a little bit different this year, Midlands Science arranged for engineering films to be shown in secondary schools across the region. Students had the chance to watch inspiring productions such as ‘Dream Big’ which uses a series of surprising human stories to expose the hidden world behind the most exciting inventions and structures across the world.

The aim of each Engineers Week event is to positively showcase engineering as a rewarding and creative career choice to children in all communities. In 2019, there were over 850 activities organised in the community. Midlands Science also presented a hands-on, interactive workshop for a number of students in association with Edenderry Library in Co. Offaly. This workshop gave students from St. Mary’s Secondary School and Oaklands Community College in Edenderry a chance to explore the worlds of electricity, magnetism and semiconductor devices (the building blocks of computers) in a hands-on and relaxed environment. The workshops were delivered by Dr. Dan Nickström from Maynooth University Dept. of Experimental Physics and we are looking forward to lots more fun and engaging events with Dan in the weeks ahead.







Mullingar Students ‘Experience Engineering’ with Midlands Science

Midlands Science teamed up with a range of local and national partners recently to host a special week of career workshops, hands on project work and inspirational talks from companies such as ORS, Robotics and Drives, Shay Murtagh, Waterways Ireland, Steripack, and Cpl resources. A number of transition year students from Coláiste Mhuire Mullingar participated in the week Experience Engineering which also focused on other various key learning aspects such as, CV preparation, interview skills and internship opportunities.

A primary objective for Midlands Science is the development and implementation of awareness-raising initiatives designed to increase science capital in the region. For this to succeed, there needs to be a more joined-up approach within the many sectors of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. This includes the sharing of expertise, participation in out-of-school science learning contexts, for example how often a young person participates in informal science learning contexts and continuing to highlight the message that STEM subjects are relevant for everyone. With this in mind, participants were briefed and given the opportunity to work  as part of a project team which involved planning ideas and looking at the diversity of the field and the types of engineers that would be needed for specific engineering projects.

John Brennan, Managing Director of ORS in Mullingar commented,

“Engineers and surveyors are in increasing demand in Ireland and a supply of talented graduates from both professions is fundamental for our social and economic future. ORS was delighted to support and participate in this innovative initiative to increase knowledge and understanding of the world of engineering and surveying and encourage more of our future generation to consider them as potential third level and career choices. By setting the students a hands-on challenge we hopefully encouraged them to really think about how vast engineering and surveying can be, to get creative and have fun while at the same time learn about how to find solutions to the many urban and environmental challenges that we face in society today.’

Science and engineering fields play an ever-increasing role in Ireland’s future within the global economy. Continued focus on education and training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will open doors to today’s students in jobs they might not yet have even heard of. Change is happening all around us at an alarming pace in workplaces, the economy and our everyday and most of this change is driven by developments in STEM.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said, ‘Through specially designed programmes like ‘Experience Engineering’  we are aiming to ensure that as many young people as possible understand the economic, cultural and environmental impact that engineering can have. We are most grateful to all of our partners who helped to make this programme so worthwhile and with their assistance and support, we hope to be in a position to continue to provide opportunities like this to more students around the region into the future focusing on other sectors. Pauline Nally, Business Development Executive with Midlands Science played a key role in the development of this pilot, based on feedback from students that they faced significant difficulties accessing STEM based work experiences which would help them to decide on college courses and careers for the future.’

Visit to Local Medical Device Company for Science Week

Midlands Science was delighted to team up with local company Europharma Concepts Ltd (EPC) during this year’s Science Week to demonstrate to a number of Midlands students what it is like to work in a medical device company. A group of pupils from Ardscoil Chiarain Naofa visited the plant last week to learn all about the inner workings of a company like this and to explore a range of science related careers.

Declan Lenahan of EuroPharma Concepts said,

‘Europharma Concepts was delighted to join forces with local development company Midlands Science and the Midlands Science festival team for Science Week 2019. It is important for Europharma Concepts as an employer to provide the local student population with encouraging experiences of real-world science and we were delighted to host a number of young people from Ardscoil Chiarain Naofa for a plant tour here in Clara last week. Allowing them to see the internal workings of our company is an ideal way to explain the diverse range of science and technology jobs out there. The aim is to generate an increased interest in science fields and work towards inspiring the next generation of scientists in the Midlands and beyond.’

Founded in 2007 as the only oral healthcare manufacture in Ireland, Europharma Concepts Ltd (EPC) has growing from strength to strength and has become an industry leader in the development and manufacturing of Oral Care, Cosmetics and liquid filled Medical Device products.

The Midlands Science Festival which took place across the region last week celebrates science with original programming that includes lively debates and lectures, film productions, hands-on workshops and interactive demonstrations for people of all ages.

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science CEO said,

‘One of the main objectives of this week-long event is to demonstrate the many exciting career opportunities available within Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths disciplines. There is a real urgency in society today to ensure that young people are getting the best type of careers advice possible and by taking it beyond just the classroom and into real working environments, we hope we are going in the right direction. We need to increase interest in these fields and work towards inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. The festival team places a strong emphasis on mentoring from role models and champions from those in the science education and corporate sectors and it is also wonderful to have opportunities such as site visits to pharmaceutical or medical technology companies during Science Week in order to reach as many students as possible and to encourage them to consider these all-important fields and the related course options.’

Jazz Pharma Career Talks…

We were delighted to welcome Sean and Denis from Athlone based  company, Jazz Pharma to meet a group of senior cycle students in Tullamore today for a talk all around pharma careers. Feedback from students has been excellent and they are looking forward to another STEM careers talk already!

Jackie Gorman, Director of the Midlands Science Festival said,

‘ We are extremely committed to remaining focused on growing high level industry-education collaboration across the Midlands region in order to inspire the next generation of scientific and digital leaders. There is a real urgency to ensure that young people are getting the best type of careers advice possible and by taking it beyond the classroom into forums where students have the opportunity to hear from experts working in these fields, we hope that we are going in the right direction. The Midlands Science Festival provides plenty of stimulation for those who are undecided about their future career choices and will hopefully help people to make more informed decisions.’



Teamwork Tuesday!

Barry W. Fitzgerald, BW Science, author of Secret Science of Santa Claus & Secrets of Superhero Science.
photo: Bart van Overbeeke

It really is all go today across the Midlands for Science Week today! We are starting out in Tullamore for a careers talk with Jazz Pharma before heading to the library for our spectacular Foodoppi shows! Then we go across to the students in Tullamore College for some climate change science and we are really excited about that!

There is plenty happening in Laois also with Marty Jopsons ‘Invisible worlds’ show and ‘The Secrets of superhero science’ is also taking place today..Moving down to Longford we have Mary Wards’ World of Wonder;  an inter-active workshop with artists Tina Claffey and Caroline Conway exploring the life and legacy of Mary Ward, one of Ireland’s first female scientists.  And in Athlone, we ‘Travel to Chernobyl’ for a unique event which will explore the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant which took place on April 26th, 1986.

#stem #believeinscience #science week


We should try to stimulate curiosity …..

As Science Week gets underway, we have been talking to a number of Midlands people who are working in science and technology careers. This week we caught up with Colin Scally, a Tullamore native who attended one of the schools we work closely with here in the Midlands.  He is now living in London..Here is what Colin had to say…

Colin, you are originally from the Midlands and a past pupil of Tullamore College, what are you now working at?

I’ve been based over in London for the past few years and worked across a couple of different jobs and industries. Currently I’m working for a technology consultancy as a software developer and consultant. I’m helping a fintech startup to build out their product – a system to help small businesses with a range of accountancy features and finance options. It’s a great role as we get to really help bring them on a technology journey and realise their ambitions.

Can you tell us what led you into this role and a bit about your academic journey?

Honestly, I’ve followed a somewhat non-traditional route into this industry. I originally studied law, and then specialised in analytical criminology. I worked for years in cyber risk management and financial fraud analysis. But I got to the point where my role was getting closer to management consulting and I wanted something more technical. So I decided to leave my job and retrain for a few months, before taking on a role as a software developer. I don’t at all regret my previous roles, as I gained a lot of consultancy skills that I still use every day. The days of a software developer sitting all day typing with their headphones on is over – businesses want our technical knowledge but also our ability to consult and work with various stakeholders across their teams!

What are some of the more exciting science and engineering jobs that you are seeing now or you see for the future?

Always a difficult question to answer without straying into buzzword territory! In terms of technology, the whole ‘Cloud’ area is hardly novel any more, but whilst a few years ago it was still thought of as hype, today it’s a core part of engineering for more and more businesses. The big providers (AWS, Azure, GCP) are evolving their platforms and delivering new services at a frightening rate, meaning there is a growing demand in cloud systems engineering.

There’s also a lot of talk about the potential in robotics, much of which is still firmly in the hype cycle! But I would expect more and more practical applications of robotics to emerge in the near future, and this will call for people with a range of technical and scientific skills from materials science and plastics, to software development, to AI and cognitive science.

Why are events like the Midlands Science Festival so vital for encouraging young people to consider a future in a science career?

Personally, when I was still in school I struggled to understand the range of careers that were out there in the various scientific fields. Schools do great work in helping with career guidance, but they can only do so much and their advice is often theoretical and focused on what to do at university. Events like Midland Science Festival can do brilliant work by making young people more aware of career paths that exist and what it is actually like to work in a scientific field. These events are also a fantastic way to allow young people to see and experience science in ways they would never get a chance to otherwise.

How can we make science more fun and engaging for young people do you think?

I think it’s absolutely key to make young people ask two questions “how does this work?” and “why does this happen?” We should try to stimulate curiosity and make young people arrive at these questions themselves, motivating them to dig deeper and look for answers. The easiest way to do this is probably to get ‘hands-on’ with science as much as possible – show young people some of the outcomes and products of scientific application and give them the space to explore and question them.

Athlone Technology Company Set to inspire Next Generation

Athlone based technology company Mersus Technologies is providing students with a unique insight into the world of Virtual Reality through their activities for Science Week this year as part of a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) careers event ‘Aspire with Abbott’ in Longford.

Mersus Technologies will have a stand at the event, providing information for all attendees and there will be the opportunity to experience a Virtual cleanroom, the kind that industry will be rolling out globally in the future. Mersus has developed the AVATAR ACADEMY™  which is an immersive Virtual Reality platform that mirrors real-world environments and scenarios so precisely it can be used to train workers in the latest advanced manufacturing processes. This has been achieved through the combination of a team of traditional animation artists working hand in hand with software developers to create innovative computer-generated image media. “We’re the Walt Disney of industrial animation,” says chief executive and co-founder Geoff Allen

Geoff Allen, CEO of Mersus Technologies said,

‘We are really looking forward to attending the upcoming ‘Aspire with Abbott’ event in Longford as part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival. At Mersus Technologies we are always looking for the next generation of talented STEM candidates. Over the past seven years, Mersus has developed a world-class team from local talent right here in the Midlands. Our AVATAR ACADEMY™ virtual training platform harnesses the creative imaginations of youth in applications that are proving extremely valuable for the nation’s Life Science industry. We are confident that our form of animation can rival, in terms of attracting talent and the global success of Ireland’s indigenous entertainment-focused equivalent, over the next few years’.

Talking STEM Careers with the Next Generation …

We are really pleased to team up with a number of expert speakers for Science Week 2019 to deliver a range of high value career talks to schools across the region. Speakers will include biomedical scientist,  lecturer and science communicator Dr. Craig Slattery who is also Chairperson of Midlands Science, Dr Helena Bonner of the Royal College of Surgeons and Midlands native and senior Intel manager, Bridget Molloy who will address senior cycle students in relation to subjects and future careers in STEM.

Bridget Molly commented,

‘I am delighted to be returning to Tullamore as part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival. It is so important to enable students to connect learning to actual real-world situations and show them how much innovation there is in science and technology fields. Midlands Science is doing extensive work to give local schools the opportunity to develop their knowledge of the world of work and the types of future jobs that might be available to them, particularly in the subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). The more work that can be done in this area, the more likely it is that students will consider one of these fields as a future career option. I am really happy to support this and participate in the aim of inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers and I am really looking forward to seeing what else will be taking place during this year’s festival which promises to be engaging, educational and fun.’


Delving in to Science Capital …

Great morning exploring #sciencecapital with students at St Brendan’s Community School in #birr and CBS #Mullingar – lots of questions about everything from poisons to animal testing alternatives. #believeinscience