Shannon Chamber hosted its first-ever event with the University of Limerick (UL) via a virtual webinar at which the University’s interim President, Dr Kerstin Mey, gave an overview of the diversity of the College’s educational offering, its expansive linkages with industry, and the range and level of research being undertaken on-campus.
As Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said in summing up the event: “It was such a pity that we could not have held this event in a live setting as the interaction and networking in that instance between our members, Dr Mey, and her colleagues would have initiated even more industry/academia collaboration.
“It is only at an event of this nature that you truly value the contribution the University of Limerick has made to this region since its establishment, initially as the National institute for Higher Education (NIHE), in 1972.”
The facts linked to this 340-acres campus in Castletroy, Limerick are quite staggering – 17,000 students, 1,750 staff, 4 Faculties (Science and Engineering; Education, Health and Science; Arts, Humanities and Social Science; and the Kemmy Business School); the Bernal institute for advance material, processing and manufacturing, a Health and Research Institute and 30 research centres.
UL also boasts the largest Erasmus+ programme in Ireland and runs major programmes for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) having recruited two female professors in this area, one on Data Science. It is the only university in Ireland to have been awarded a five-star QS World University Ranking; it places 2,100 students per annum with industry through linkages with an employer base of over 4,000 companies inter/nationally resulting in 93% of all graduates attaining employment post-graduation.
It has added Masters in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Health Transformation to its curriculum; partners with organisations such as An Garda Siochana, HSE, the Criminal Assets Bureau and Revenue on projects specific to each organisation; offers nine Level 7-9 programmes, via its Springboard, to upskill workforces and has introduced Level 7-10 apprenticeship programmes in supply chain and principal engineering.
Looking towards the future needs of industry, through its UL@Work initiative, it has introduced five new Masters’ programmes in Digital Manufacturing Futures, Digital Sciences Futures, Digital Work Futures, Digital Marketing Futures, Cyber Security Futures, Digital Society Futures as well as a range of professional Diplomas and has set up a Digital Futures Lab.
The most noteworthy and more recent announcement was its collaboration with Stripe, Analog Devices and 36 partners in total to launch a new BSc and an MSc in Immersive Software Engineering to impart software engineering knowledge in a manner that will equip graduates with the right mindset and skills to meet the needs of industry for the next thirty to forty years.
This latest collaboration brings the number of collaborations UL has established with industry to over 200, generating over €24million in funding.
Such industry collaboration is the result of the diverse nature of the university’s undertakings not least the fact that it is the lead partner in three Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Centres – the Irish Software Research Centre (LERO); Smart Manufacturing RC (Confirm) and Irish Pharmaceutical RC (SSPC), the lead in one SFI Doctoral Training Centre, a member of five additional SFI Centres, and hosts two Enterprise Ireland Centres – Dairy Production Technology and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology.
As Helen Downes explains: “The presentation given by Dr Mey was so comprehensive that it would be impossible to report on every aspect covered during this fast-paced one-hour webinar. What was evident is that UL is very much at the forefront of developing the technologies of the future, most notably for autonomous transport, wind, tidal and biobased energy conversion, alternative fuels for planes, next generation batteries and so much more.
“What was evident is that UL is very much focused on sustainability and future proofing and is very much determined to develop the Shannon region as a model or testbed for transport and energy at a European level. Setting up a new Limerick city centre campus will add a totally new dimension to its operations in the Mid-West. We look forward to hosting another event with Dr Mey and her amazing team of educationalists and researchers a live setting when COVID-19 protocol permits,” added Ms Downes.