NUI Galway Acknowledges the Importance of Innovation in Engineering

The National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) launched its Engineering Innovation (Electronic) today. The location was the brand new Engineering Building which stands alongside the River Corrib. A new course, a new building, and some new thinking as well.

In his opening remarks, Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of Engineering at NUIG, made it very clear why the word ‘innovation’ was in the title of the course, “The graduates of the future of this University will be graduates that will create the economy of the future… We can create the future of Ireland if we put our minds to it.”

The opportunity this course has been created to respond to is the need for engineering graduates to be more innovative.

China and India have been producing engineers by the hundreds of thousands yet still the home for breakthrough technology is Silicon Valley. But as Professor Lyons points out, Ireland is not that far behind, “The little piece that is missing is entrepreneurship.”

It is expected that this new thinking followed by this new approach to educating engineering graduates at NUIG may provide the missing link. “Innovation is going to come from a new type of engineer… We at NUIG are well-positioned to create the engineer of the future. An engineer who is confident and creative enough to expand out beyond narrow confines… and actually think about the possibility of doing things in new ways, creating new products and new services.

“I have no doubt that through the innovation of engineers that we will see very significant growth and expansion in this country in the near future.”

These thoughts were echoed by Mike Conroy who came to officially launch the new course. Mike as well as being General Manager of Cisco’s Global Product Research and Development in Galway is also an alumnus of the University.

He said, “There was nothing to stop the prosperous expansion of the ICT sector in Ireland.

“An innovation culture is an imperative for building new start-ups and attracting… inward investment into Ireland. Innovation is driven by the intersection of talented engineers and visibility to key business problems and opportunities. Cross-disciplinary education in technology and innovation, like in this NUI Galway programme, is a great example of this as innovation needs to be at the heart of everything we do at all levels of education.”

The four-year course will produce graduate engineers with business and innovation skills alongside traditional engineering capabilities.

Graduates from this course will not only be qualified for regular engineering posts but will have the option to be able to make use of their integrated business skills to either start their own enterprise or be better prepared to take on more strategic roles in already established businesses.

NUI Galway’s John Breslin is the course director (and also the publisher of Technology Voice), and he says, “Industry feedback has told us that a multi-disciplinary approach to engineering education can provide a massive boost to job prospects.

“The Higher Education Authority also says that there is a need for greater emphasis on critical thinking, capacity for analysis and entrepreneurial perspectives in Irish engineering courses.

“The figures regarding employment in the technology sector are very encouraging for current
and future students. 5000 jobs have been created in this sector since 2010, according to the
director general of Engineers Ireland, and the director of ICT Ireland recently stated that there are about 3500 open jobs within the information and communications technology sector at present.

“The School of Business is right next to the Engineering Building and it is a great opportunity for creating this close-knit collaboration between engineering and the business skills that are needed for this course.”

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