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DCU launches 2021 STEM internships for future teachers

8 Oct 2020223 Views

The 2021 STInt programme will see student teachers enter placements in companies such as Accenture, Citi, EY, Fidelity Investments, MSD, PwC and more.

DCU has launched a new round of its STEM education initiative for students in teaching courses. This is the sixth year of the STEM Teach Internship (STInt) programme, which was developed with Accenture and the 30% Club.

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It gives future STEM teachers the chance to get first-hand experience of jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths through relevant internships. The goal is to help teachers inspire future generations in their classrooms to pursue careers in these sectors, and there is a particular focus on getting more women involved.

STInt is led by Eilish McLoughlin, an associate professor at DCU and an international leader in professional learning for physics teachers, and Deirdre Butler, a DCU professor with expertise in digital learning.

Successful applicants will complete a 12-week programme in one of 24 companies in Ireland. To date, a total of 70 DCU students have taken part, with 16 participating in 2020 despite Covid-19 restrictions. This year’s placements were paid and took place in Accenture, Alexion, Ericsson, Intel, Microsoft, SSE Airtricity, Takeda and Xilinx.

The programme is expanding to enable pre-service STEM teachers from other universities to engage in internships in a wide range of industries across Ireland. Other host companies include Abbvie, Accenture, Citi, EY, Fidelity Investments, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, MSD, PwC, Vodafone, Virgin Media and more.

Dr Anne Looney, dean of DCU’s Institute of Education, explained that participants will benefit from upskilling in areas likely to become more important to classrooms in an increasingly virtual world. These include “collaborating online, working in virtual teams and the ability to design and deliver technological solutions”.

“By hosting our students this summer, you are also reaching their future students,” Looney added. “There is no better introduction to the STEM career opportunities than an inspiring teacher who has first-hand experience.”

Science Foundation Ireland is supporting the initiative through its Discover programme. The agency’s head of education and public engagement, Margie McCarthy, said that “understanding how STEM is applied in the workplace is a key support for teachers trying to impart this knowledge to students”.

“Ultimately this experience helps to demystify STEM roles in the classroom and broaden the understanding of how much they contribute to our society.”

Paula Neary, who is a managing director and STEM sponsor at Accenture Ireland, said that the programme helps Ireland to prepare and respond to “disruptive technological change” by educating the country’s future teachers.

“We need a future-proofed talent pipeline that is equipped with critical-thinking, creative and functional skills and is comfortable with digital technologies,” she said. “STEM subjects help cultivate many of these skills, but the uptake of these subjects at second and third level remains low.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa joined the team as senior Careers reporter in July 2019 with previous experience in science communication and media. With a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication, she is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos.

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