Friday, 10 June 2011

Xperience at the Helix

Thursday June 9th 2011

'Today I was honoured to perform the official opening of the Xperience Engineering National Finals 2011 at The Helix in DCU.

This is an annual event in The Helix hosted by Engineers Ireland to promote school projects based on the application of Science and Mathematics at Primary School level around Ireland. There were 40 shortlisted finalists from as far away as Cork, Kerry and Donegal together with their proud parents and teachers.

In my opening speech I remarked on the start of the Junior and Leaving Certificate exams this week and how committed Engineers Ireland are to supporting Education in all three sectors in Ireland but especially at Primary and Second Level. We are very actively supporting the new Project Maths curriculum at Second Level in particular and taking an interest in the new Junior Cycle curriculum and new proposed new approach to Science learning at second level from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) (http://www.ncca.ie/).

This year's theme in the Xperience competition was 'Engineering a cleaner world'. There some highly impressive projects like the Flooding Study of Bandon Co. Cork to various topics like water and wastewater treatment, suspension bridges, wind farms, pumped storage electricity schemes and waste management proposals to reduce landfill.

I didn't envy the Judges their difficult task. The judges were engineers and scientists drawn from state organisations, from industry and consultancy.

The Junior Winner was Scoil Naomh Fionan, Nohoval, Co Cork. They examined 'greening' their local community in Nohoval by means of integration of local planning, transport and renewable energy projects.
The Senior Winner was Harold Boys School in Dalkey Co Dublin with a project on redevelopment of Dun Laoghaire Sea Baths. They had focused on the innovative possibilities of harvesting tidal energy, also creating seaweed baths as well as active consultation with the local community.

These two very worthy projects have the potential of improving local community infrastructure, job creation and environmental protection all at the same time.

From competitions like these, pupils get to realise that 'engineers make things happen' in everyday life. For example Engineers design the Water and Gas systems to the our towns and cities, our Roads Trains and Buses, making iPhones work, bringing Broadband to offices schools and homes.

We also make surgical operations in hospitals possible through our biomedical engineers who design equipment to monitor medical condition like heartbeat and blood flow and design medical devices like stents to bridge arteries to combat blood clotting.

It was great to see the sheer excitement in so many little eyes and faces as they explained their projects. They also answered the most searching questions to test their knowledge under time pressure.

I was proud today to be a member of Engineers Ireland (http://www.engineersireland.ie/). All associated with this event deserve our praise and admiration especially our principal organisers Caitriona Geraghty and Kate Cannon.'

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