Science Foundation encourages ‘Stem’ subjects

Three-year plan to increase the take-up of science, technology, engineering and maths

Smart Futures ambassador and  Clare All-Ireland winner Shane O’Donnell with Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton TD and Dr Ruth Freeman of the Science Foundation. Photograph: Jason Clarke Photography

Smart Futures ambassador and Clare All-Ireland winner Shane O’Donnell with Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton TD and Dr Ruth Freeman of the Science Foundation. Photograph: Jason Clarke Photography

 


A three-year plan to increase the take-up of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects at second and third level has been launched by Science Foundation Ireland.

A part of the foundation’s “Smart Futures” strategy, the plan is intended to raise awareness among students, schools and parents of the career opportunities in “smart” technology driven industries.

The plan aims to build a 450-strong volunteer guidance group from among people in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) centred industries who would be available to visit schools and talk to pupils about their careers and necessary qualifications for their jobs.

The plan also aims to encourage industries to participate in student outreach activities; highlight career opportunities and expand awareness through career roadshows and visits to schools.

Yesterday’s launch also saw All-Ireland hurling final star Shane O’Donnell of Clare unveiled as the new Science Foundation Smart Futures Ambassador.


Negative stereotypes
Speaking at the launch Mr O’Donnell (19) said as a student of genetics at UCC, he had “a huge passion for science”. He said it was important to challenge the negative stereotypes about people that work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“I’m excited to encourage students to consider a career in Stem, which can be very rewarding; offering a chance to make a difference in the world and contribute to society in a meaningful way.”

Dr Ruth Freeman, director of strategy and communications at Science Foundation, said last year Smart Futures worked with Engineers Ireland’s Steps programme, PharmaChem Ireland, the Royal Society of Chemistry, ICT Ireland and the Institute of Physics, among others, and engaged with approximately 28,000 students across the country.


High calibre
Carmel Mulroy, head of public affairs at Abbott Ireland said having access to a strong pipeline of high-calibre graduates particularly with Stem backgrounds was very important for such industries. She said participation was “an important part of our ongoing efforts to open the eyes of Ireland’s best and brightest young minds to the possibility of a career in a Stem related industry.”

Speaking at the launch Minister for Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said having access to skilled and qualified workers is hugely important for Irish companies looking to expand.

“I am convinced that with proper implementation of this plan, the science, technology, engineering and maths students of the future can play a crucial role in developing the sustainable growing economy of the future in Ireland.”