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.

Virtual Science Week events in Westmeath with National Museum of Ireland

[6:16] The Ballinderry Sword, Ballinderry, Co. Westmeath.
Ninth century ad.
The sword was the principal weapon used by the Vikings, most of the iron blades with their often carborised steel edges probably being imported to Scandinavia where the hilt ornament was generally added. This iron sword from County Westmeath with its silver mounted handle is the finest surviving specimen of a Viking sword from Ireland and one of the most impressive anywhere. It has an elaborate, pattern-welded blade inlaid with the name of the sword-maker VLFBEHRT. Blades inlaid with the name of Ulfbehrt were exported from the Rhineland and have been found as far east as Russia. Most swords found in Ireland from this era probably originated in Norway and have been found in graves in the Dublin area (at Islandbridge, College Green, Bride Street and Dollymount) where they appear mainly to have been interred with the extended burials of warriors, although some of the ritually bent examples may have accompanied cremations as they did in Scandinavia. The present specimen is from a crannóg excavated by the Harvard Archaeological Mission to Ireland in 1932, a site interpreted as the homestead of a farmer or local king. SA 1928:382. L. 92.5 cm.
Mahr 1928, 204–52; Walsh 1998.

Midlands Science is pleased to announce details of two unique, digital activities in Westmeath which are part of a collaboration with the National Museum of Ireland for Science Week 2020.  This year’s events are also presented in partnership with the Heritage Office of Westmeath County Council.

Siobhan Pierce, Education and Outreach Officer, Archaeology & Natural His tory at National Museum of Ireland commented,

‘We are delighted to be bringing a special, online virtual event to a school in the Midlands for Science Week and we are also looking forward to delivering a family workshop to wider communities in Westmeath, which will explore our rich Viking heritage.  We will host this event live from the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin where we will interact with Athlone primary school pupils so that they can learn about what archaeology can tell us about the arrival of the Vikings to Ireland and their impact on Westmeath. It is wonderful to have a strong partnership with Midlands Science and the County Heritage Officers of the Midlands counties so that we can continue to make these events happen during Science Week even if this year, they cannot be delivered in person. Our family workshop will be hosted live from the Museum with National Museum of Ireland educa tor Trisha Ryan and will show Viking material found in Dublin and Viking finds from Ballinderry Crannog, Co. Westmeath, including a sword and gaming board. This event was specially created for children 7-12 years old and we are looking forward to interacting with as many people as possible on the day.’

Melanie McQuade, Heritage Officer of Westmeath County Council said,

‘We were really excited to be partnering with the annual Midlands Science Festival and the National Museum of Ireland for these events which takes place as part of national Science Week. They are a fantastic opportunity to promote science education  to Westmeath pupils and families as we examine the archaeological evidence for the arrival to the Viking activity in Ireland and in particular Westmeath. Most Viking finds from Ballinderry and other rural sites reflect everyday activities and include tools used in spinning, weaving and sewing and tools and utensils of wood, iron and bronze. Ballinderry, however, also produced a number of exceptional finds, which we will learn about on the day of the workshop.’

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science said,

‘Midlands Science is focused on not only providing science and technology activities during Science Week but it is also really important that we explore the link between science and the arts, heritage and culture. Our partnership with the National Museum of Ireland and the Heritage Office of Westmeath County Council allows us to reach a whole other audience, helping us to promote science in a unique way which also helps us to understand and explore our past. Our school event will take place on November 10th during the annual Midlands Science Festival and our family event, Virtual Vikings, will take place on the same date at 3:30pm. Booking is available for this online on www.midlandsscience.ie so join us as we celebrate science and heritage in the Midlands for  Science Week 2020.’

 

 

Midlands Science Executive Shortlisted for LIFT Ireland Award

LIFT Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that works to build positive leadership skills in communities across Ireland. It created an awards initiative to recognise strong leadership at all levels of Irish society from grassroots organisations to corporate boardrooms. Midlands Science Business Development Executive, Pauline Nally, was recently shortlisted for one of these awards. We caught up with her to find out more…

 

Pauline, you are Business Development Executive for Midlands Science. Can you tell us a little bit about what that work involves?

 

My role can be quite varied depending on the needs of Midlands Science and the particular time of year but in the main, it is my job to fundraise, to produce high quality pitches and presentations, to identify and speak with relevant business and academic contacts who may be interested in collaborating with Midlands Science and track those leads. Building business relationships with existing clients and sponsors is also essential.  I have a passion for bringing value to non-profits and sourcing new opportunities and partners for the organisation is the key aspect of my role.

 

You have recently been shortlisted for an award in Dedication & Determination, having participated in LIFT Ireland’s programme over the past 12 months. Congratulations!

Can you tell us about your experience of availing of this programme and why leadership skills are now more important than ever?

 

I am truly honoured to have been shortlisted for a LIFT Ireland leadership award in dedication and determination. LIFT aims to get the people of Ireland talking about values and leadership and to grow our self-awareness which then informs both our decision-making and determination in our professional roles. The wonderful training that I experienced with LIFT has helped me to really understand where I need to focus attention in order to improve the quality of how I approach both my work and my life in general. I believe that when you are really aware of your values, you will not only increase your chances of success but will also encourage and bring others along with you towards achieving your collective corporate goals.

 

The values of LIFT impact our homes, our families, our friendships, our communities and our workplaces. What are some of the most important skills you feel you have acquired that you can take in to your professional role going forward?

 

I am really looking forward to the practical day- to-day application of this facilita tor training and to focusing on the core values including cus tomer service excellence, innovation and continuous learning. Excellent communication skills are so important in my role as I interact with a diverse range of individuals and organisations at all levels of business on a daily basis. It is also so important that I have a positive and proactive attitude to driving new business and partnerships for Midlands Science so that involves building my knowledge about science education and promotion and being willing to learn about the sec tor and how it is developing all the time. As the escalating Covid-19 crisis is forcing the cancellation of many physical events, those of us involved in fundraising really need to think fast and strategically in order to prepare for the times ahead and one of the critical things that this training has taught me is to keep communicating and at all times in the most considerate and empathetic way.

 

What did you enjoy most about the training with LIFT and would you recommend it to others?

 

It was really great to engage and connect with people across all levels of the others organisations who par took in the training. During a time which is increasingly challenging for everyone, it provided a lovely opportunity to reflect on my work and think about some small changes I could quite easily make. There was something very reassuring about networking with others and realising that everyone has their difficult days but it is all about taking note and then having the tools to keep pressing forward to the next opportunity in a positive and confident way. I am delighted that I got involved and am very pleased to be nominated for this important award.

Midlands Science Announce New Partnership with LIFT

Building Leadership Skills in the Community

Midlands Science, was delighted to recently announce details of a new collaboration with LIFT (Leading Ireland’s Future Together) which was established to build each one of us in to a better leader. Each partner makes a commitment to LIFT, to participate in the learning process and to facilitate further discussion within their organisation on the value of positive leadership.

Jackie Gorman, CEO of Midlands Science commented,

‘Each of us is a potential leader and this leadership can take place within both our own personal and familial or indeed our professional working roles and when we partake in any corporate or community-based team. We are delighted to announce that we will be teaming up with LIFT. We are really looking forward to developing our personal leadership qualities and abilities and to utilising all of the valuable skills that we have learned thus far in our own work, with groups of people we will be engaging in the year ahead.’

LIFT teaches and enables people to make better decisions, to ask better questions and to influence each other positively.  The leadership values used by LIFT in its training programmes are Listening, Positive Attitude, Respect, Competence, Determination, Empathy, Accountability, Honesty.

LIFT Co-founder, Joanne Hession said,

“LIFT is delighted to partner with Midlands Science. We greatly admire the mission of Midlands Science and we are so excited to build leadership muscle with their team who will have such an influence around Ireland. The LIFT team is completely behind them as we work towards a better Ireland and brighter future. We can’t wait to train team members as certified LIFT Facilita tors.”

Jackie Gorman continued,

‘By taking the decision to become a LIFT Ireland partner, Midlands Science is committed to both strengthening our own leadership muscle and raising the level of leadership in the organisation itself and also sharing the impact of this learning with the increasing number of corporate and academic stakeholders that we are fortunate enough to work with. We are also pleased and privileged to be joining a network of organisations and individuals whose mission it is to collectively drive positive leadership change in Ireland and the hope is that we, as LIFT facilita tors will now have the tools to bring this to people in our communities who need it.’

#LIFTIreland

 Note: ‘Everyone is welcome to join a free online LIFT leadership session. Book here: https://liftireland.ie/online-leadership-sessions/ to experience LIFT for yourself.”