Physics, Superheroes and Westmeath!

There’s three words you don’t often expect to see together but with the start of a new project exploring the physics of superheroes this week taking place in Westmeath, it’s all about physics and superheroes in Mullingar.

 

Exploring the Physics of Superheroes is a new outreach project which allows students to experience the excitement of superheroes whilst learning all about the physics that make such stories possible. The project is managed by Midlands Science and delivered by physicist Dr Barry Fitzgerald, who has done extensive research work in this area. The project is supported by the Institute of Physics, a society and professional body that works to advance physics education, research and application. The Institute of Physics Limit Less campaign aims to support young people to change the world by doing physics.

 

Fiona Longmuir of the Institute of Physics commented “The Institute of Physics are delighted to support Exploring the Physics of Superheroes, sparking young people’s curiosity and creativity by showing the real-world physics that inspired their favourite superheroes.”

 

The project will bring together a range of well known characters from the Marvel Universe and other pop culture references, exploring and explaining the amazing physics behind their superpowers. Outreach such as this is a vital way of exploring what science and physics can bring to our lives in the future, it’s often things we thought a short while ago were the stuff of movies and science fiction.

 

The project is being piloted in two schools in Mullingar and will involve groups of students working together to develop their physics and team-work skills and will culminate in an event in late October, where students will share what they have learnt and where they hope physics will take them next.

Midlands Science Youth Advisory Panel – Applications

Midlands Science promotes engagement with science, technology, engineering and maths to communities all over the midlands, to people of all ages and backgrounds. A key group of people we engage with are young people and we are keen to involve them in our content creation and programming. In order to make this involvement as impactful as possible, we are now establishing a Youth Advisory Panel which will meet three times per year to review the work of Midlands Science and to provide vital input into the development of this work.

A panel of 6 young people (aged 16+) will be established for a one year term from September to May each year and will be renewed each year with new members. In order to apply to take part in this exciting panel, please contact outreach@midlandsscience.ie All members will be provided with training in science communications and general communications and a full briefing on how to take part in the process. It will be an exciting and creative opportunity for anyone interested in science and/or communications. All panel members will be provided with certificates of participation and will be profiled online and in the media. Full parental/guardian permission for participation in the meetings and training will be required. The Youth Advisory Panel members will be key representatives of Midlands Science in the community and will be influencing decision making at many levels in the work of the organisation.

The Midlands Science Youth Panel offers many benefits and opportunities to participants including:

  • Development of leadership and communication skills.
  • Have your voice heard on skills and education issues.
  • Participation in the creation and development of science programmes and resources.
  • Participate in events such as the Midlands Science Festival.
  • Panelists will receive training in science communications and general communications skills.
  • Certificates of participation and guidance on CV development.
  • Opportunity to meet with a wide variety of people from science, technology, engineering and maths in Ireland.
  • Opportunity to visit leading STEM companies in the region and to be part of advocacy around STEM related issues.

All applications will be considered and the panel will be made up of the students who show the greatest enthusiasm for and interest in the work of Midlands Science and being part of decision making in a not-for-profit organisation in the midlands region.

Travel costs incurred by panel members in attending the Youth Panel will be covered by Midlands Science and all Youth Panel meetings will be held in accordance with the Midlands Science’s Child Protection Policy.

Midlands Science believes that engagement with science can have a positive and transformative impact on communities and we are excited to hear from those who share this belief.  We are committed to diversity and inclusion in our work and we strongly welcome applications from members of minority and marginalised communities. We also know that imposter syndrome can be an issue for some amazing people, so please get in touch to discuss this opportunity even if you feel like it might not be for you. We’d be happy to discuss any queries you might have.

 

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.

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.’

Midlands Science and ESB Deliver Science Outreach to Midlands Schools

Midlands Science is pleased to announce a recent collaboration with Ireland’s leading energy utility, ESB, which seeks to provide young people with the tools to participate in science as an act of engaged citizenship. This exciting initiative, “Everyday Science” will take place in a number of secondary schools across the Midlands in the coming weeks including, St. Brendan’s Birr Community School in Birr, Mountmellick Community College and Oaklands Community College in Edenderry.

Pat Naughton, Director of People and Organisation Development at ESB commented,

‘Our position as Ireland’s foremost energy company makes us a vital part in building a brighter, more sustainable future so ESB is delighted to work with Midlands Science to showcase the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths education. Supporting young people, adults and our potential future workforce to engage with STEM is a key aspect of our own work within the community. It is important to introduce young children to STEM at an early age in order to spark that curiosity to learn more and we also need to demonstrate its diversity and relevance by showing how important it is to solving challenges across all aspects of everyday life.’

A key part of the work carried out by not-for-profit organisation, Midlands Science, throughout the year is to work with companies, students, scientists, teachers, and community members to explore and solve STEM related challenges related to issues that affect their communities and experience of life. Connecting to real-world and more relevant topics helps young people to develop a deeper understanding of STEM concepts.

CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman said,

“Everyday Science” will be delivered by RTE Junior’s award-winning scientist, Philip Smyth and using a range of workshop topics from Sustainability and Climate Change to Taste, Music and Future Tech, this project seeks to equip young people with the tools to actively engage with science in ways which will inform their future development as active citizens and a transition in to adulthood, making decisions as consumers and citizens based on evidence. This is closely aligned to Science Foundation Ireland’s and Government policy which endeavours to have the most scientifically literate public in the world. In addition to students in selected schools taking part in this programme, teachers will be trained as facilita tors as part of the programme, so they can cascade their learning to other groups which we will encourage the development of as part of the programme. Building a better future is a responsibility we all share and working with companies such as ESB enables Midlands Science to play a small part in this so we are very grateful to have this opportunity and look forward to continuing to inspire students across the region in the weeks ahead.’

Photo: Phil Smyth

 

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 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 sec tors 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 in to 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 sec tor. 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 Johns tone S toney? S toney made significant contributions to cosmic physics and to the theory of gases. S toney’s most important scientific work was the conception and calculation of the magnitude of the “a tom 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 S toney 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 Plu to, Eris and Makemake are now grouped in to the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt.

Longford inven tor 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 Kings town (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 aspira tor, 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 communica tor. 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 pollina tors contribute to our ecosystem.

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