Engineers Week Is a week-long festival of nationwide events celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland. Running from March 4th to 8th this year, we took every opportunity to get involved.
Engineering touches every part of our lives. However, not enough young people, especially young girls – think it’s a world for them. As a result, the industry is struggling to recruit future talent. What’s more, young people are missing out on the chance to make a positive difference to both their futures and the world. This is what stemmed our new partnership with Limerick for Engineering (LFE) this year.
LFE is an industry led forum, made up of 42 companies in the mid-west region of Ireland working in partnership with Limerick and Clare Education Board, UL and LIT. The sole purpose of the group is to increase the quantity and quality of future engineers. This unique collaboration, focused on developing talent as a group rather than competing for it, has been hugely successful and growing in the last 5 years. The direct ties between education bodies and industry group members furthermore strengthens the employability prospects for the region and industry growth over various sectors.
Each year Limerick for Engineering hold a Showcase, inviting second levels students, their parents, teachers and inquisitive career changers to attend. The theme of this year’s showcase was ‘Engineering is for Everyone’, built around making a more gender balanced industry. To launch the promotions of the event, an ‘INSPIRE’ seminar was held in LIT mid-February. This seminar was led by four leading female engineers in their field.
- Norah Patten, Entrepreneur | Space & STEM Advocate | Speaker | Engineer
- Samira Kaissi, Site Lead, BD Biosciences, Ireland
- Grainne Barry,Regional Operations Director, EMEA at STATS LLC and Co-Founder SportsTech Ireland
- Marian Corcoran, Independent Director, Coach and Business Leader; technology and business transformation, IDA Board member.
Each speaker took their turn to explain their career path, highlighting the fact that the path is rarely straight, but never narrow, especially in engineering. Their careers are constantly evolving due to new technologies and working in diverse teams. Having a career in engineering doesn’t mean you can’t work in a field that you love. Grainne highlighted this as she had always a great interest in sport growing up. Samira showcased the opportunity to travel and how one area of study can branch into various sectors and industries. Most importantly, all speakers gave words of encouragement as well as advice
Through our partnership with LFE we got involved in the Adopt a School Programme. As run in previous years, each company in LFE ‘Adopts a School’ and thus liaises with the guidance counselor to arrange talks/visits to the school or company. Two of our graduates, Sam and Leanne took time to visit Saint Patricks Comprehensive School, Shannon in the run up to the event. Speaking to a hall of 100 students, they could guide them through various areas of engineering and the many ways and routes of furthering their studies.
“A lot of students have this disbelief that they will be able to do engineering; ‘it’s too hard’, ‘ I don’t like maths’, I won’t get enough points’. It’s amazing to get to open their eyes to the many apprenticeship programmes as well as level 6 and 7 technician courses available to them. These can be used to build up to an engineering degree gradually. No one goes into college already knowing everything, it’s a place for learning, practicing and building skills. I’d encourage everyone filling out their CAO application to remember that and put their most passionate foot forward.” – Leanne Wright, Ei Electronics
This direct approach to schools was a notable aid as the numbers attending the Showcase this year were phenomenal. Organised by Limerick for Engineering members collaboratively, there was great success in engaging young minds in interactive STEM displays, with lots of company volunteers on the night to explain the science behind what they were experiencing. There was a huge amount of empowerment in showcasing how the knowledge and skills required design, build, programme these multiple displays are at the doorstep for these students, should they wish to begin their studies on this path, be it through an apprenticeship, IT or university course they pursue.
The simplest thing we did this week to get even more involved was sponsoring curiosity boxes for a local primary school. A ‘Curiosity Box’ provides a lesson plan and engineering task for a class of 30 to complete. This isn’t just for Engineering week, they are available all year round with different lessons available regularly through www.curiosity-box.com. We would encourage any company to sponsor a class in their region. The experiences children have throughout school is what they will build on going forward in their studies, these boxes spark the ‘curiosity’ in children and offer a fun way to learn about the impact of engineers in society.
Going forward, we look forward to partnering with STEAM for their ‘Engineering in a Box’ Programme to further this cause. Starting this month, one of our engineers will be visiting St Aidan’s primary school and conducting engineering activities with Mrs Murphy’s 6th class. This Programme will run over 10 weeks as all the lesson plans are completed.
Overall, engineering week has been full of activity and expanded into ongoing initiatives with our team. We are already excited for next year’s Showcase in 2020 and continuing the amazing partnership we have with Limerick for Engineering. A huge congratulations to the on-going success of Engineers Ireland’s and their STEPS programme for organising this years Engineers Week with funding under Science Foundation Ireland. We look forward to continuing to INSPIRE and develop the next generation of engineers that will make their own impact in industry as well as the world at large.