The first Accenture and DCU STEM internship programme for teachers has drawn to a close, leaving participants better equipped for instilling a love of STEM in students.
The Accenture-DCU internship programme was launched at the end of May, announced as an effort to enable teachers to better inform their students – particularly young women – of STEM opportunities.
The first group of participants have now completed their three-month placements in Accenture’s Dublin operation. Each has spent the summer within the company’s technology practice, working on real-life client projects.
Speaking to Siliconrepublic.com on Wednesday, Paula Neary, Accenture’s health and public service practice managing director, explained the rationale behind the programme, and how it can change a teacher’s perspective.
“We realised that teachers don’t have a lot of information about the broad career opportunities within STEM. We basically kicked it in this year straight away with DCU, with their third years. I think they all have learned and seen how the STEM skills apply in business,” said Neary.
Participant Sean O’Donnell summed up how the programme can benefit the students these teachers will one day have in the classroom.
“I often notice that students might say, ‘Oh, why am I learning physics? Why am I learning maths?’ and I really didn’t have an answer for them. So I really wanted to get into the industry, learn what Accenture have, and relay that back to the students.
“You might not be fantastic at maths. You might not be fantastic at science. But if you have the skills like logical thinking, problem solving, communication – which is vital – I really think you will be successful in whatever career you take in this industry.”
Given the success of this first year, DCU and Accenture hope to expand the programme. Eilish McLoughlin, director of the Centre for the Advancement of STEM Teaching and Learning (CASTeL) at DCU, said, “We will hope that other companies will come on board along with Accenture – and maybe through the 30% Club – to take on more students, to give pre-service teachers an opportunity to work in industry.”
The internship programme was developed on the basis of findings in joint reports from Accenture Ireland and Silicon Republic, which indicated that a high proportion of girls believe that STEM subjects are too difficult and better suited to boys.
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