In Conversation with Dr. Máiréad Breathnach of Intel…’I simply followed the subjects I liked most…’

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 into 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 into 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 prototyping, 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 into 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 undertook 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 into 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 into 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 innovators 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 into 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 mentoring programme, in which I am a mentor, was established to provide an avenue where females can share their experiences, learn from each other and gain access to a support network. The mentoring 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 mentor can guide you, but a sponsor can promote your inclusion.

Parents and educators 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 Stories 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 storage, 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 sector 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 operators 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 Huffington 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 into 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 into 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.”

 

 

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 tutorials and other educational videos diving deeper into 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 into 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 understood 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.

Virtual Tech Week Talks Planned for the Midlands

Midlands Science is delighted to be celebrating Ireland’s Tech Week next week across the Midlands by hosting a number of virtual talks for secondary schools with the help and support of a range of voluntary corporate speakers.

Tech Week is a nationwide festival of technology driven events aimed at students, parents and the public. This festival offers experiential engagement to students which will allow them to develop their interest in technology, advance creativity and innovation while also let them have a lot of fun! Over the past year, more than ever before, people of all ages have seen just how important and inevitable technology is for us all. We have witnessed how the development of new technologies help to save lives; improves how we work and makes the world a better place to be. The recent positive impacts of technology on society has helped us to reach new heights that have never before been imagined.

Gerry Buckley, founder and CEO of NIS, a leading IT services company based in the Midlands said,

‘I am delighted to partake in this year’s Tech Week by virtually visiting a number of local Midlands schools to demonstrate the critical role that technology plays in so many areas of life. Midlands Science places a strong emphasis on making that important connection between science, technology and real-world jobs and this really encourages young people to pursue careers in these fields. The current pandemic that we have been collectively facing over the past year has greatly highlighted how critical technology is in our lives and whilst many students are already acutely aware of this, we also need to deliver the message that there is so much career diversity when it comes to the Tech world. All sectors from transportation to education and from healthcare to financial services rely on the latest technologies to operate effectively and dedicated events like Tech Week really help raise awareness of the wide spectrum of jobs that are available in this industry.’

Technology is not going to slow down and that’s why it is so important for us to do our best to keep up with it. This annual event usually brings together many tech experts and enthusiasts to network, provide demonstrations, deliver workshops and take part in discussions. As is the case for many other public events, this year will be different but it is still important to delve into the ever-evolving world of tech and to demonstrate just how diverse it can be.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

‘We are really looking forward to virtually visiting schools across the Midlands during Tech Week to give students the opportunity to learn more about the latest technologies and to talk to them about the world of opportunities associated with it as a sector. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the many corporate speakers who will be giving their time to help us celebrate and showcase all things tech and to hopefully inspire more young people to consider the technology fields when to comes to future course and career choices.’

 

Celebrate Science at Home this St. Patrick’s Day

As we celebrate all things Irish for St Patrick’s Day, we thought it might be interesting to think about famous people from the midlands who are associated with Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM)

Did you know that the term “electron” was invented by Offaly man George Johnstone Stoney? Stoney made significant contributions to cosmic physics and to the theory of gases. Stoney’s most important scientific work was the conception and calculation of the magnitude of the “atom of electricity”. In 1891, he proposed the term “electron” to describe the fundamental unit of electrical charge, and his contributions to research in this area laid the foundations for the eventual discovery of the particle by JJ Thompson in 1897. Next time you look up, think of Stoney as craters on the Moon and Mars are named in his honour. And keep looking up as you might see the Kuiper Belt which has a Westmeath connection!!

Kenneth Essex Edgeworth was an Irish army officer, engineer, economist and independent theoretical astronomer from Westmeath. Edgeworth is best known for proposing the existence of a disc of bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune in the 1930s. Observations later confirmed the existence of the Edgeworth Kuiper Belt in 1992. Those distant solar system bodies, including Pluto, Eris and Makemake are now grouped into the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt.

Longford inventor Richard Lovell Edgeworth was a graduate of TCD and Corpus Christi, Oxford. He created a very useful machine to measure the size of a plot of land. He was also ahead of his time and anticipated the caterpillar track with an invention he tinkered with for about 40 years but never completed. He described it as a cart that carries its own road.
Speaking of transport, if you ever get the train to Laois, you might think of William Dargan. He was born near Killeshin, Co Laois, in 1799, was the engineer on Ireland’s first railway from Dublin to Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) in 1833. He was also the engineer for the old Harcourt Street line, which the Sandyford Luas follows for much of its journey, and he designed many of its station houses. In total he constructed over 1,300 km (800 miles) of railway to important urban centres of Ireland.

The Midlands has a strong scientific heritage on which to build on today. In 1845, Birr was the home to the world’s largest telescope, today it is the site of I Lofar, the Irish station in a European wide network of state of the art radio telescopes, used to observe the universe low frequencies. John Joly of Offaly in 1857 developed the first effective radiotherapy method for treating cancer. Today, his home town of Tullamore is home to leading life sciences company Integra Lifesciences, which makes an ultransonic aspirator, a surgical device for the precise destruction of tissue that is used for tumour removal procedures and many other complex surgical operations.

The past allows us to learn from and to build for the future. This is the nature of science; we learn from each other and it’s a process of learning from mistakes and experimenting with new ideas. As we celebrate all things Irish, let’s celebrate all things Midlands including the amazing scientists from our region who looked to the stars, built bridges, explored cancer treatments and much more !!

Midlands Science is delighted to be featuring our Science at Home series with Dr. Dan Nickström during the St Patrick’s Festival 2021 and this will be showcased through St. Patrick’s Festival TV – SPF TV – a dedicated TV channel at www.stpatricksfestival.ie. Dr. Dan Nickström is a lecturer in the Experimental Physics Department at Maynooth University and a keen physics communicator. He will explain the physics behind some of the everyday objects we find at home, as well as looking at the natural world such as how bees and pollinators contribute to our ecosystem.

#SPFTV #stpatricksfestival

Exciting Science Week Space Events with Popular Science Communicator

Midlands Science is pleased to announce events that will be taking place with Dr Niamh Shaw during Science Week 2020 and the annual Midlands Science Festival. Niamh is a performer, writer & communicator with 2 degrees in engineering & a PhD in science. Passionate about igniting peoples’ curiosity she explores crossovers in STEMart & communication to share the human story of science. Niamh was the proud recipient of an award from Science Foundation Ireland for her work in communicating STEM, in recognition for all the events and talks and writing that she does about space and science.

Niamh commented,

I’m delighted to be a part of Midlands Science festival this year. My events will all be space-themed and shared with stories and videos about my own space adventures. While there are lots of facts in my events, they aren’t science shows and I’ve made them especially for people who feel that science isn’t really their cup of tea. So lots of videos, pictures and stories about space and designed for people of all ages and all interests.’

When asked about her main mission in life and about what people can expect and at Niamh’s events which will be delivered to schools in Laois and Offaly during Science Week, Niamh said,

‘I have devoted the rest of my life to get to space. I haven’t it all fully figured out just yet but that’s the best part!  I do know that in achieving this,  that I get to share stories about the adventure with all of you! I want to be the ‘normalnaut’ storyteller! And so far, I’ve shared a few of my adventures- like being on a simulated Mars mission in the middle of the desert in America, then I went to Star City in Moscow and took a zero-gravity flight to feel what microgravity (or weightlessness) feels like in the body (very strange, in short!). And other adventures too which I’ll share with you all at the festival in November.’

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘We have been working with Niamh since the schools returned after the first closures and have had excellent feedback on her virtual workshops into schools which the pupils have loved and teachers have said it has been a most welcome and exciting distraction for the children during these challenging times. Niamh’s book ‘Dream Big’ from Mercier Press (a memoir of sorts of the story so far in getting to space) came out in bookstores about 2 days before the first COVID restrictions hit the country. She is also planning the next future space adventure and she should have been working with the International Space University during the summer on their graduate programme in Space Humanities activities but is really looking forward to meeting lots of students during this year’s Midlands Science Festival!’

 

 

 

Science of Star Wars for Science Week 2020!

We are really excited to explore the science of Star Wars with author and scientist Jon Chase for this year’s Midlands Science Festival. How long before we get a Star Wars speeder off the ground? What exactly is the Force? How could Kylo Ren stop a blaster shot in mid-air? How could we live on a gas giant like Bespin? Nature versus nurture: How does it play out in the making of Jedi? How much would it cost to build the Death Star? This is the Science Week event you’ve been waiting for !! Suitable for Padawans and Jedi alike.

We caught up with Jon to find out more….

Jon, we are delighted that you will be participating in this year’s Midlands Science Festival. You are a passionate science communicator who is on a mission to spread the messages of science in your own unique way. What methods do you use to do this and how do you make science more exciting and interesting especially for young children?

I make workshops to engage in hands on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) as well as science shows to entertain, including plenty of humour where I can.  I also make raps about STEM as another way for people to become informed about STEM whilst being entertained at the same time. I generally try to keep things as light hearted as possible.

Was there a particular moment when you started to see the connection between music and science?

 

I suppose the closest thing to that would be when I produced a rap for NASA Astrobiology Magazine in 2008.  My lecturer at the time heard a random rap I wrote, which included references to the scientific method, He highlighted my ability to one of the producers of the magazine and next thing I knew I was producing a rap and video for them.   There was a lot of interest in what I did and from that point on, I was officially regarded as a science rapper.  I even ended up doing my dissertation on the topic of Science raps.

Using some basic principles of science, your book, ‘The Science of Star Wars’ co-written with Mark Brake,  unlocks some of the secrets behind the epic George Lucas movies. What can Star Wars fans expect from your upcoming virtual Science Week event with Midlands Science?

Lots of Science facts about the lifeforms and technologies seen within the movies, as well as an exploration of what humans currently know about space and how that impacts on the Universe of Star Wars.  Answering questions like how big is space, how old is it, could we find life out there, what’s the best space ships, how close are we to producing various Star Wars technologies?    

 You are known for cracking stereotypes about science. What can we do to make science more accessible to people and make sure people are less scared of it and more curious about it?

I think most people are curious about science but that feeling can also be linked with a fear and wariness of it. Much of science fiction has been really good at helping us to explore these fears, by helping us to imagine not only the future potential of STEM, but also the sometimes dire consequences.  It’s important to be honest with regards to science, i.e. Science is a way of thinking and doing things, and seeks to understand nature through that particular way of thinking and doing (known as the scientific method). Science does take time and effort to do, most people don’t find it easy but they work at it because they enjoy it (I liken it to playing a challenging computer game.  You stick at it because even though it’s hard, the end outcome is personally rewarding for you).  Most importantly, you don’t have to be good at science to engage with what it reveals about the world.  You just have to find the access point that works for the person, whether it be formal education, shows, movies, magazines, workshops, raps, computer games or whatever.

You have a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and a BSc in Science and Science Fiction. What would you say to a young person who is considering a career in science but might have been discouraged about it for some reason along the way?

Find different ways to surround yourself with science. In particular, think about the things that inspire you most about STEM.  Is it the future possibilities or its ability to solve real world problems now, do you like to know how everything works or are you fond of doing experiments and testing ideas?  We’re fortunate nowadays in that we can access information about all aspects of STEM via the internet, with people providing loads of different ways to engage with it.  Seek out the STEM messages and activities that inspire you and use that inspiration to motivate you through the various challenges you might encounter.  Remember, just like a computer game, you’ll embark on a journey that will be frustrating at times but personally rewarding overall as you overcome challenges one step at a time.

 

 

Careers Advice for Kilbeggan Students with PM Group

Midlands Science is proud to deliver career talks to as many schools as possible in the Midlands to demonstrate in a hands on way why a career in science, technology, engineering or maths is a good choice. We were pleased to welcome Mick Lynam from PM Group to speak to students in Kilbeggan during Science Week. PM Group manage the design, construction and commissioning of high-tech facilities for the world’s leading pharma, food, data centre and med tech companies.

Mick Lynam, Director of Project Delivery at PM Group said,

‘PM Group was delighted to recently team up with local development company, Midlands Science to help inspire Midlands students and hopefully build enthusiasm in them to consider science and engineering as possible future subject choices. Engineers in particular are in high demand currently and we are seeing plenty of new job opportunities for graduates within the engineering sector but the skills shortages continue. Therefore, we must all work together to build awareness and promote the industry and increase the understanding about the important need for engineers in Ireland today and into the future.’

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘We are really grateful to PM Group and all of our partners and mentors from life sciences organisations and technology companies, as well as from research centres and academia for their time and guidance on careers in these areas. Our career talks are aimed at Transition Year students, with a view to encouraging them to keep on STEM subjects, but are also available for Senior Cycle students who are still unsure about third level options and preferences.’

Google workshops a great success!

We were delighted to run a number of Google CS first taster workshops again during this year’s festival across the region and these workshops were based on real world themes aiming to engage students of varying interests – Storytelling, Fashion & Design, Sports, Animation , Art, Music & Sound, Game Design, Friends and Social Media. With the help of their teachers, students availed of the google online CS Education to develop their Computer Science skills.

Claire Conneely of Google’s Computer Science Education team (EMEA) said,

‘Google is pleased to once again collaborate with Midlands Science to provide computer science outreach for young people during Science Week 2019. Cultivating a future workforce that is ready for the fast pace and many changing faces of technology today requires a commitment from businesses in this industry to help prepare the next generation with the right technical skills, to get them excited about Computer Science and encourage more young people to pursue a career in this field.’

Thank You!

Collaboration with our valued partners is at the heart of everything we do.

We would like to express our thanks once again to our sponsor Integra LifeSciences for their wonderful support of local science at this weekend’s Discovery Day and also a sincere word of thanks to Pauline McKenna of the Sacred Heart School in Tullamore for the use of the school’s fantastic facilities. It was an enormous help and we couldn’t have done it without you and all of the people who helped out to make the Discovery day a great success.

#believeinscience.