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New STEM science campaign prepares for lift-off this week

Wednesday, 5th September, 2018 4:38pm

To infinity and beyond! That’s where students hope to be headed after the launch of a new science education initiative.

The new campaign championing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) was launched this week by MEP Mairead McGuinness and trainee astronaut Dr Norah Patten. Representatives from Science Foundation Ireland were also on hand to showcase Back to School for STEM, which promotes science role models currently active in the Irish workplace.

The initiative, which will be delivered by employees of AbbVie, aims to encourage greater student awareness of the career opportunities available through studying STEM subjects, and will be rolled out in Cork and across other counties in the coming months.

A 2017 multi-stakeholder report by AbbVie outlined the need for fostering better student interest in STEM subjects and highlighting positive experiences of current Irish workers in the industry.

Speaking at the launch, Mairead McGuiness MEP, who is also Vice President of the European Parliament, said she was delighted to support the initiative.

“I have no doubt this programme will help raise awareness amongst young people of the attractive and diverse careers that are currently available in Ireland with the many companies active within the STEM sectors.”

She added: “AbbVie’s ongoing efforts to support STEM in our communities is welcome, and it highlights the benefit of a partnership approach between schools, industry and other organisations to ensure that young people, teachers and parents are aware of the exciting opportunities that are available with excellent companies.”

Dr Norah Patten, who has a PhD in Aeronautical engineering from University of Limerick and is a faculty member at the International Space University, said: “We need to continuously highlight the broad range of opportunities that come from studying STEM disciplines. The way to do this is to interact with parents, teachers, students, career guidance counsellors and others to showcase what studying STEM can open up for boys and girls,” she added.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “At Science Foundation Ireland, we are committed to improving student perceptions of STEM, and are supportive of efforts to bring them into contact with superb role models. Encouraging our young people to become involved in STEM from an early age is crucial to guiding them towards a future that is both enjoyable and rewarding.”

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