International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th and is an opportunity to talk about how we can all make a difference in the work we do with regards to gender equality, equity and inclusion. The theme this year is #breakthebias. It cuts across all areas in society and life and is of course relevant to science, technology, engineering and maths [STEM]. According to research, there are well over 100,000 jobs in STEM in Ireland. However, while women have made huge progress in some scientific fields, just 25% of those working in Ireland’s STEM industries are women. Recent research by Accenture Ireland has highlighted the continuing disparity between young women and young men when it came to their future careers. Only 29% of those surveyed felt that students are given enough information about potential future careers while they are in schools, but females are less likely to think so – 20% versus 39% males.

As an organisation committed to an equity informed approach to science outreach, Midlands Science has made a deliberate decision in its programming to target gender as an issue  in its programme curation and recent years have seen a 10% increase in female participation and role models are key to this approach. The voluntary board of trustees of Midlands Science is currently 57% female and the independent expert advisory group is 66% female. This includes Caroline Brazil, Accenture, Dr Aisling Twohill, DCU, Anne Scally, Pro-activ HR, Dr Helena Bonner, RSCI, Patricia Nunan, Hibernia College and Anne Naughton, TUS Midlands Midwest. These women who work in technology, education, science and recruitment all understand the need for greater female participation in STEM and the reasons are not just about diversity and inclusion. Science functions best when it considers a wide range of different perspectives and responds to the needs of everyone in society. When science excludes women, it excludes talented future scientists, as well as fresh perspectives that could be used to approach problems in a different way. In general, research has shown that diverse workplaces are happier and more productive, suggesting that STEM organizations and companies could do better for themselves by being more inclusive.

This has practical implications. For example, in 2017, a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that men’s odds of survival were 23% higher than women when it came to resuscitation in public.  The study found receiving CPR in public in general is still rare, and there was no significant gender difference when it came to CPR in the home. But in public, researchers said the data could indicate that people are less comfortable delivering CPR to a woman they do not know because it requires touching the chest. A “Womanikin” was developed in respond to this research. This meant adding breasts to mannequins to  normalise giving CPR to a woman. While CPR training is now thankfully common, most people still learn on a male torso and that torso was probably designed by men, so the difference in outcomes a design might make wasn’t thought of sufficiently at design stage. It’s the same for car crash dummies. It is only recently that car manufacturers have used female car crash dummies in testing. Dummies for decades have been based on the average, 50th percentile male body. According to a 2011 University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics study, that meant female drivers involved in crashes had a 47% greater chance of serious injury than their male counterparts, and a 71% higher chance of a moderate injury.

You can learn more about International Women’s Day on www.internationalwomensday.com and by searching the hashtag #breakthebias.

School Outreach Programme 2022

Midlands Science was delighted with the huge response to its free school outreach programme for 2022 and would like to thank all schools who responded to our call to host workshops and activities. Our call for 2023 will issue later this year.

We are currently planning careers workshops for secondary schools with local role models, who will share their real life experiences of working in STEM. This is in response to research which indicated that students wanted to hear more about what it actually means to work in STEM and also what are the different routes into STEM. If your school would like to host such a career workshop, please get in touch.

A career in STEM can be diverse, engaging and can focus on solving some of the most challenging problems in the world today. It includes everything from climate change to pandemics and all sorts of people with all kinds of skills are needed for such work. Asked for her advice to students today in secondary school, Dr Máiréad Breathnach of Intel commented.

“Go for it! Remember it’s not necessary to have an exact dream job in mind, a strong sense of what interests you and a general plan is a good starting point. Your plans will most likely change several times as you learn, your interests evolve, and the world faces new challenges. Regardless of whether you apply for a narrow discipline straight out of leaving cert or choose a more general science or engineering qualification, the core skills will be similar. It will never be an issue to change your mind and the time you’ve spent is never wasted as you’ll have learned along the way. Lateral moves happen right through education and careers. The key thing is to back yourself, put down your first choice regardless of whether you think you’ll get it or not. The worst that can happen is you get another choice from your list, which in any case will most likely bring you to the same career path. Technology and science transform at a rapid pace, as do the plethora of careers to choose from. Yours might not exist today! Be fearless. There’s a quote from Arianna Huffing ton about how fearless is like a muscle and the more you exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let fear run your life.”

Inspirational Careers Advice for Science Week

The Midlands Science Festival has hosted a large number of science and technology career talks throughout the week in partnership with a number of companies such as Accenture, Arup, Energia, IMR and 3M with topics ranging environmental science to science jobs of the future, toxicology and climate change.

We would like to thank all of the  speakers who came to the region (virtually this year) to deliver these high value presentations to students. It is fantastic to see how science can be brought to life when someone new and inspiring comes in to the classroom and tells a science s tory from a different perspective.

We were delighted to see hands up after every talk and lots of questions. Thanks again to all who participated and to the regional schools for hosting. #BelieveInScience

In Conversation with Dr. Máiréad Breathnach of Intel

We have been busy catching up with lots of people who work in STEM roles in advance of Science Week 2021. Dr. Máiréad Breathnach is from Laois originally and works at Intel’s Kildare campus as an Area Co-Ordinator. Máiréad has a PhD and BSc in Applied Physics from the University of Limerick and completed her secondary school studies at the former Brigidine Secondary School at Mountrath.

 

What inspired you to pursue a role in technology?

I don’t recall consciously pursuing a role in technology. There was no one moment of inspiration, and with experience I’ve learned that that’s ok. I simply followed the subjects I liked most and was best at, maths and physics, and my technological career evolved organically from there. In primary school maths was my favourite subject, at junior cert I loved maths and science and for leaving cert I studied chemistry and physics. For CAO applications I wasn’t 100% sure exactly what my career would be, but I knew it would involve science, so I studied Applied Physics at the University of Limerick. The summer I finished my degree there were several options to move in to industry, but I didn’t feel I was quite finished with academia, so I successfully applied for the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) scholarship and completed a PhD which crossed the disciplines of physics, electrochemistry, microscopy, and materials science. During my postgraduate research I became increasingly interested in technology transfer and as my PhD concluded I was excited to step in to industry.  My first industrial role was as a technology development scientist at TFI (Technology from Ideas) an Irish seed investment and commercialisation company that specialises in conducting proof of concept development on early stage, technology-based ideas submitted by academic researchers. This was an exciting role, involving a mixture of market focussed research, lab-based research and development, workshop-based pro totyping, intellectual property assessment and protection, obtainment of funding grants, and commercialisation of early-stage technologies. After 3 years in TFI I moved to Intel as I was eager for a new challenge in a larger multinational organization.

What is your role at Intel Ireland and what are some of the key skills required for your job?

At Intel, I work in the Sort Department, which is the wafer testing division of Intel’s Ireland operations. My current title is Sort Area Co-ordinator (AC). This is a project manager role and as AC I am responsible for planning, organizing, and directing the completion of the Sort component of the Intel 4 programme at Intel Ireland. That is, equipping the existing Sort manufacturing facility with the necessary tester fleet to meet the Intel 4 process node capacity requirements, with minimal disruption to existing production.

Key skills are team leadership, communication, networking, self-direction and motivation, sound planning and organization. The rapid pace of change in the semiconductor industry requires a tolerance to ambiguity and the ability to persist through uncertainties and as a result innovate change and continuous improvement. Success in this role requires technical acumen to solve complex technical issues specifically in terms of Intel’s manufacturing operations and tool demolition, install and qualification processes. Financial savviness and a strong understanding of the global supply chain and capacity planning systems are also core skills in the role.

What was your route in to this role?

In my almost ten years with Intel, I’ve had the opportunity to work in varied roles, principally within the Sort department. When I joined Intel in 2011, I worked as a parametric test engineer, progressing to module team lead for the group within 12 months. This role enabled professional leadership development as I was accountable for the module’s performance in terms of safety, quality, and output. I was responsible for management of new product and test programme introductions, change control, product and equipment failure debug, team workload prioritization and planning, team skill development, and customer communications and relations.

In 2013, I under took a temporary assignment as a product quality and reliability engineer with the Corporate Quality Network to develop the Intel® Quark™ processor, the first product designed in Ireland. I gained insight in to how a product develops from initial concept and design to the manufacturing of the first microprocessors.

Upon my return to the parametric test module, I spent four months in Portland, Oregon as a seed engineer as part of the technology transfer for the next process node start up in Ireland. Much of this role was learning and documenting the new test process to train my colleagues back home on the technical changes and challenges that we needed to master to ensure our process start-up was a success in Ireland.

Following the start-up, I moved in to an integration role, where I worked closely with process engineers, test engineers, and product engineers to maintain and develop quality and reliability standards for the end of line wafer testing processes. This involved continuous risk assessment, identification of potential gaps in our systems, and implementation of robust improvements. In parallel to this role, I took ownership for the Sort department budget forecasting and cost management, and I certified and worked as an IATF 16949 and ISO 9001 internal auditor for Intel’s internal audit programme.

During my time as a parametric test engineer, I lead projects to resolve global parametric testing capacity issues, drove three process node transfers for the parametric test module and twice owned the relocation of the existing tester fleet in addition to the doubling of the tester fleet. This technical experience in addition to my financial role as cost owner were key factors in my progression to my current AC role. During my career, I’ve spent a maximum of 1 to 3 years in any one role. Once I feel I’ve become an expert in my current role, that’s when I seek out a new role with a new challenge.

 

Why is it important for Intel to get involved in school STEM outreach?

The challenges of tomorrow will be solved by the young people of today and a solid foundation in STEM is a key component to their success. The misconception that STEM subjects are too difficult is a key challenge faced by educators. I observed this in 5th year as my higher-level leaving cert maths class diminished in numbers within the first two weeks of the term, mainly due to an alarming amount of unsubstantiated fear mongering. Challenging these misconceptions is key and an effective method to do so is to nurture an interest and confidence in STEM from a young age. Intel provides STEM-centred tools and resources to educators to foster the next generation of innova tors and problem solvers. Each year I participate as a judge in the Intel Mini Scientist. ‘Learning through play’ is widely regarded as central to early years education and the Intel Mini Scientist is an excellent opportunity for primary school students to embrace that concept by exploring science and technology through project-based learning and exhibitions. It’s thrilling to see the children’s excitement and passion, their skills for data collection and analysis and the confidence they display to present their reports. It is also important for the students to see a female judge. They have the opportunity (and they do use it!) to ask me anything about my job.

 

Are there are any specific challenges for women in science and tech now?

The most obvious is the disparity between males and females in STEM, resulting in a lack of female role models to entice more females in to STEM, and for those already working in STEM there is low or no visibility to senior female colleagues to encourage more females to apply for senior roles. The message needs to change from highlighting the historical challenges faced by women in STEM to showcasing successful women past and present working in STEM. And while it’s great to showcase women at the top levels of industry such as Sheryl Sandberg, not everyone aspires to be at that level. To attract and retain females in STEM relatable women at all levels need to be celebrated and visible.

I heard a phrase recently ‘if you see it you can be it’.

At Intel, females are the minority in many business groups. The ‘Press for Progress’ group men toring programme, in which I am a men tor, was established to provide an avenue where females can share their experiences, learn from each other and gain access to a support network. The men toring sessions facilitate sharing of commons issues (communicating in ways which can undermine their authority, lacking confidence to speak up in a male dominated environment, feeling isolated, unheard, or overlooked, and lacking confidence to voice their ambitions or apply for new roles) and specific techniques, and examples of how to overcome such challenges. I would also advice that females seek out a sponsor (male or female) who is aware of their achievements, abilities, and ambition. A men tor can guide you, but a sponsor can promote your inclusion.

Parents and educa tors also have a responsibility to ensure visibility to female STEM role models. I had fantastic female role models in secondary school with excellent female teachers for maths, science and leaving cert physics. And as a parent I am conscious of anything my daughter watches. Recently I found myself querying why there is only one female pup in Paw Patrol?! My husband and I tend to guide her towards Ada Twist Scientist and Ridley Jones who have great female role models whilst Wild Kratts has good gender balance. Wonderous Women Who Changed the World and Good Night S tories for Rebel Girls are top of our reading list, and Lego’s Women of Nasa is a popular set in our house.

 

Do you think there are any really exciting tech jobs we can hope to see in the next 10 years?

Absolutely. I read recently that an estimated 65-percent of children in the next generation will have jobs that are not even created yet! The current global challenges of climate change and COVID 19 will be integral modulators in the science and technology of the next decade. To combat climate change engineering roles will increase in green energy, conservation, and sustainability, specifically in electric battery development, carbon capture, usage and s torage, and hydrogen usage. The current pandemic is certain to drive an increase in focus and funding in the areas of epidemiology and vaccine research. With nine of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical firms currently based in Ireland I would expect to see an increase nationally in science and engineering roles in the research, development, and manufacture of vaccines.

In the software and IT sec tor new specialisms will emerge; cryptocurrencies driving the need for digital currency advisors, digital locksmiths playing an important role as the Internet of things and smarter homes become the norm, and commercial drone opera tors will be key to ensuring our Friday night takeaway arrives on time! Engineering and design roles in cloud computing, gaming, robotics, data analytics, artificial intelligence and information security will continue to expand.

New careers in biomedical science and food engineering will be very exciting. Who knows, someone reading this may yet be an organ harvester or 3D food print engineer of the future!

What would you advise a second level student considering a role in science or tech in the future?

Go for it! Remember it’s not necessary to have an exact dream job in mind, a strong sense of what interests you and a general plan is a good starting point. Your plans will most likely change several times as you learn, your interests evolve, and the world faces new challenges. Regardless of whether you apply for a narrow discipline straight out of leaving cert or choose a more general science or engineering qualification, the core skills will be similar. It will never be an issue to change your mind and the time you’ve spent is never wasted as you’ll have learned along the way. Lateral moves happen right through education and careers. The key thing is to back yourself, put down your first choice regardless of whether you think you’ll get it or not. The worst that can happen is you get another choice from your list, which in any case will most likely bring you to the same career path. Technology and science transform at a rapid pace, as do the plethora of careers to choose from. Yours might not exist today! Be fearless. There’s a quote from Arianna Huffing ton about how fearless is like a muscle and the more you exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let fear run your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innovate and Inspire with Science and Technology Role Models

What does it mean to pursue a career in science or engineering?  What job opportunities are available to those with degrees in these fields? What skills do you need to have a career in science or to become an engineer? As part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival, which takes place across the region this November as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s national Science Week, a series of careers talks will take place virtually in local schools to hopefully answer some of these questions. The theme for Science Week 2021 is Creating Our Future, directly supporting the national research conversation. ‘Creating Our Future’ is a conversation between the people of Ireland, to gather your ideas on what problems you’d like research and innovation to deal with, to create a better future for all.

Volunteers for this careers initiative are from life sciences organisations, engineering and technology companies, as well as from academia. A number of role models with science or technology backgrounds will deliver career talks to secondary students online to demonstrate why a career in science is a good choice. Some of the speakers are past pupils of the schools they will virtually attend during Science Week 2021. Midlands Science is also pleased to once again partner with Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) to pre-record a unique STEM careers event called Innovate and Inspire with STEM. This event will be available for secondary school registration and will include interviews with STEM professionals and a Questions and Answer session also.

Isabel Meza Silva, from Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) said, ‘Many challenges still exist when trying to attract young people in to science and technology roles so IMR is delighted to be a part of this year’s Midlands Science Festival and we look forward to talking to as many students as possible to spread the message that there are so many potential opportunities in the worlds of science, technology and engineering. As part of Science Week 2021, we are pre-recording a STEM careers event which will feature a relaxed interview with three young people working in the following roles; a female product engineer, a female software engineer and a male Virtual reality specialist. Join us for this thought-provoking discussion and find out how advances in technology are changing the world around us and gain insight in to how different people can have their own individual routes to STEM which might not always take a traditional path.’

Jackie Gorman, Midlands Science CEO said, “ We know from talking to the students we visit every year that they want to see how their learning connects to the world after school so we are really grateful to all of the companies participating in this year’s festival. Their input is vital in helping us in our goal to inspire and empower the next generation of creative young minds to consider a career in STEM. More needs to be done to ensure that STEM is being promoted as a viable career path for everyone so we are also delighted to collaborate with IMR to host this special virtual careers event and look forward to showing students how exciting and dynamic STEM can be.

We have a wide variety of career talks this year; some will be pitched at students from Transition Year upwards and some will be delivered to younger students who haven’t yet made specific future subject choices.  It is so important that we provide speakers who can talk to young people about their own experiences and also about the wide variety of careers on offer. In the past we have had zoologists and botanists, science marketing managers and toxicology experts! This year we also have a wide variety of STEM roles up for discussion from environmental and software engineers to life sciences consultancy and STEM recruitment.”

 

 

Offaly Past Pupils to Deliver Inspiring Career talks

As part of Science Week 2021, Midlands Science is delighted to be teaming up with Arup; an independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, project managers, consultants and technical specialists, working across every aspect of today’s built environment. This year’s Science Week, which is managed by Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Discover Programme, will take place from 7-14 November and is focused on Creating Our Future, the national conversation on research in Ireland. As part of the Midlands programme, Debbie Flynn (Environmental Consultant) and Una O’Grady (Senior Civil Engineer) will deliver virtual presentations to schools in Offaly.

Ahead of the virtual event, Debbie Flynn of Arup commented,

‘Arup is delighted to partake in this year’s Science Week by virtually visiting a number of local Midlands schools. We hope that sharing our s tories about how we chose our career paths and the variety of projects we work on every day will shed some light on what it means to work in STEM. It is an honour to partner with Midlands Science and hopefully inspire the students to follow their interests and choose careers where they can make a difference.’

Debbie, who is originally from Kilcormac in Co. Offaly, will share how her degree in Environmental Science has enabled her to work in a role where she assesses and advises on environmental impacts, develops environmental management plans and scopes planning and permitting requirements for engineering projects around Ireland. She will share the key pieces of advice she has for the students as they begin making decisions about third level education.

Una, hailing from Birr in Co. Offaly, will tell the students about her career delivering energy and sustainability projects in Ireland and abroad. As a member of Arup’s Energy team, she is currently working on projects to transition the energy sec tor to lower carbon emissions and help meet climate change targets. She is looking forward to telling the students about the myriad of opportunities STEM careers provide to contribute to solving the challenges faced in today’s world.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said, ‘We are really looking forward to virtually visiting schools across the Midlands during Science Week to give students the opportunity to learn more about the latest in science careers and to talk to them about the world of opportunities associated with it as a sec tor. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Arup and our many other corporate speakers who will be giving their time to help us celebrate and showcase all things science.’

The Degree is only a part of the wider picture!

With Science Week only weeks away, we have been catching up with some of the people who will be delivering inspirational STEM career talks to students all around the Midlands this November, including Charlotte Weever, Life Sciences Consultant with Accenture…We spoke to Charlotte about her own career so far and what she would advise young people who are currently considering their career options….

What inspired you to pursue a college course in STEM.

There was no one thing that inspired me to pursue a STEM degree in university. I have always been very passionate about art and design actually (definitely one of my best subjects!). Reflecting back to when I was little, one of my main personality traits was insatiable curiosity about how things worked and why. As I continued through secondary school, I realised that maths and sciences held a lot of very interesting topics to explore and helped answer a lot of questions I had about how the world works. That hunger to learn more plus my interest in art and design led me to pursue engineering. After all, the word ‘engineer’ has roots in the Latin word for ‘ to create’- the perfect route for a wannabe curious designer!

Was there a good focus on STEM in your school?

My schools offered the science subjects and even a class in applied maths. My focus was on physics and applied maths primarily, but I spent a lot of time on the internet watching tu torials and other educational videos diving deeper in to the concepts we learnt in class. I would encourage anyone who feels like they aren’t satisfied with just their in-person classes to jump online and take a look at all the amazing resources available to students to learn more about STEM – especially if you have an interest in programming.

What led you specifically in to Life Sciences consulting?

Ireland boasts a wonderfully strong Life Sciences industry with over 50,000 people directly employed within the industry and six of the top seven diagnostic companies in the world hosting their operations on our shores. I joined consulting out of university because I wanted to focus on sharpening my people skills. It was just by chance I was placed in their Life Sciences division and I have never looked back. I am very lucky to have a job where I can learn something new every day and utilise some of the knowledge around manufacturing I picked up during my course. The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an exciting new era for life sciences, where markets demands have changed, and products are only becoming more complex. We won’t be short on interesting problems to solve for a long time to come!

What was the most interesting aspect of your third level studies?

The most interesting aspect of my third level studies was discovering brand new subject matters I had no experience with (I’m looking at you fluid mechanics and 3D printing!) and also the opportunity to study abroad in another university or institution. I took every opportunity I could to travel abroad and experience something new through internships or other student programmes. It was an excellent way to make new friends all over the world as well as study in my field of interest. I’d highly recommend that any incoming university student look out for these opportunities and take them!

 

What does the future hold for you career wise in a perfect world post pandemic?

I try not to worry about having a concrete career plan these days. I used to think, while finishing up my studies, that I had to follow a purely technical STEM career because that’s what I studied. I could not have been more wrong. I am enjoying my time in Life Sciences consulting at the moment. I’m discovering that I love working with people from a range of STEM and non-STEM backgrounds as the collaborations are much more creative and engaging. Going forward I will be looking for opportunities that allow to me collaborate like this without hyper focus on only technical activities.

What advice would you give to a young person still at school who is considering a future in science or engineering?

My advice for a young person considering their future in science or engineering is to understand that the degree is only a part of the wider picture. What I mean is that as a developing person coming out of secondary level education, it is easy to assume that all you need to do is get a degree in STEM and that will be enough on your CV to land you a great job. This is not correct. Employers and academic institutions these days want to see that their potential candidates had a balanced experience in university, enjoyed sports or other extracurricular activities, like joining a society. This demonstrates that you unders tood you are not just represented by a final grade on your exams but you are an individual that will thrive in any environment and will be up for all challenges you face.

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 in to the classroom or on to the screen and tells a science s tory 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 his tory of quantum physics.  It takes place in a specially designed caravan which rolled in to 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 s tories 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 semiconduc tor 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.

#EngineersWeek

@engineerireland

#STEPS

 

 

 

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 sec tors 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 Direc tor 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 in to the future focusing on other sec tors. 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.’