Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Visiting Tyndall Institute and Making Waves in UCC and the Naval Service

On Thursday last John Power and myself travelled to UCC for a day's engagement at the invitation of Professor Michael Murphy President of UCC and Professor Pat Fitzpatrick Head of College of Science Engineering and Food Science and fully organised by Dr Michael Creed Head of the School of Engineering.

It was a very interesting and diverse day which started in the Engineering School and ended in Ringaskiddy where the new Irish Marine Energy Research Centre is planned for construction directly beside the National Maritime College of Ireland.

We first met Michael Creed who explained the overall structure of the School to us and introduced us to the Professors and Lecturers in the various departments many of whom are relatively new. The three new Professors are Prof Tony Lewis Professor of Energy Engineering, Prof Nabeel Riza Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Prof Alistair Borthwick Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering all of whom were most helpful and enthusiastic to see their respective departments grow and prosper in terms of learning and research.

Michael Creed gave us an overall presentation that clearly showed the numbers taking Civil in first year has dramatically fallen while Electrical and Electronic remain strong and not surprisingly the numbers taking the BE Degree in Energy are rising. Process and Chemical numbers are rising slightly too roughly equating to the Civil numbers currently.

University College Cork
Courtesy of
18% of all students are female which is interesting and an obvious concern to UCC. I was glad to hear of that concern which was actually again voiced to me in UL on the following day. Both colleges think that Engineers Ireland need to do more to deal with this gender issue.  We are in fact doing a lot in this regard and will continue to strive harder - for instance our new TV advertising campaign shows 50% gender balance and half of our permanent Directors reporting to John Power Director General are female.

Of course the really big issue is Third Level funding as a 20% cut to State funding is now projected to 2015. The proposed solutions are to increase students or reduce staff numbers. The markets for increased student intake are China, India and the US. This is a huge challenge as a 300% growth in student numbers are needed to offset a 20% reduction in state funding!

We then visited the now famous Tyndall Institute which is part of UCC where we were greeted by its CEO Professor Roger Whatmore and Head of Graduate Studies Professor Jim Greer. Tyndall is Ireland’s largest Research Institute. I undertook to visit it in my Presidential Address ‘Building a Sustainable Recovery’ last September. We were shown around the extensive laboratories in nanoelectronics (a nanometer is one billionth of a metre) photonics (the generation and sensing of light) and silicon wafer fabrication for computing applications.

Pictured at the Tyndall Institute were Professor Jim Greer Head of Graduate Studies,
PJ Rudden President Engineers Ireland, Professor Roger Whatmore CEO Tyndall Institute,
John Power Director General Engineers Ireland and
Dr Michael Creed Head of UCC School of Engineering
The Institute was named after the Carlow born scientist who worked mainly for the Ordnance Survey in Cork before emigrating to the UK. In London he actually succeeded the scientist Michael Faraday (founder of electromagnetic induction) as Superintendent of the Royal Institution.

The laboratories and equipment are state of the art thanks to very serious and necessary Government led research funding for innovation and enterprise in recent years. I remarked to Roger on Queen Elizabeth's visit last May and he replied 'Funny as an English scientist I probably would never have met the Queen but because I was lucky enough to come to Cork I got to spend an hour with her during her visit here'.

We then visited the Irish Marine Energy Research Centre (IMERC) under UCC Professor Tony Lewis where we saw the National Wave Energy Test Tank Facility in its temporary location prior to permanent relocation to Ringaskiddy.

The permanent IMERC facility will be the planned Beaufort Laboratory under Director Valerie Cummins adjacent to and in partnership with the National Maritime College of Ireland run by the Irish Naval Service. In fact IMERC is a research campus jointly run by UCC, CIT and the Naval College. There we had the pleasure of meeting the Head of the Irish Naval Service Commodore Mark Mellett and the President of CIT Dr Brendan Murphy who was conferring a number of naval cadets that afternoon.

National Maritime College of Ireland

We also had the very memorable experience of a tour of the Irish Maritime College by naval officer Lieutenant Niamh Ni Fhatharta who is IMERC Strategy Coordinator for the Irish Naval Service. The highlight of Niamh's guided tour of the facility was the bridge of the world's largest simulation ship from where we sailed into Sydney Harbour in very challenging weather conditions! I had been in Sydney Harbour myself in 2005 and really thought I was back there or thought perhaps that I had died and gone to heaven! Thank you Niamh!

We left Cork after a wonderful set of very different educational experiences which are quite unique to Cork and to UCC Tyndall and IMERC/Irish Naval Service.

Many thanks to Dr Michael Creed and all at UCC!

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic blog and so many helpful suggestions! .its very help full thank u very much for the sharing the information's its too good....

    maritime college