€9m invested in Ireland’s science and education future

15 Mar 2004

Around €9m is to be invested by two separate schemes to develop Ireland’s science and education sector. In the first major scheme some €8.5m will be used to fund up to 150 new Masters or Doctorate level researchers in science, engineering and technology. In the second scheme, some €500,000 will be invested by Science Foundation Ireland to give more than 50 secondary teachers the opportunity to conduct research in Irish labs.

In the first scheme, the Embark Initiative in its 2004 postgraduate research scholarship scheme will invest €8.5m to fund up to 150 entrant Masters or Doctorate level research in the sciences, engineering and technology. Operated by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, Embark is aimed at knowledge creation for the future benefit of society and the economy and also seeks to retain highly talented researchers in Ireland. Some 368 postgraduate scholars are currently being funded by The Embark Initiative.

Within this call, applications are also invited for two Special Research Scholarships being offered by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). Funded by the National Development Plan, SEI promotes and assists the development of sustainable energy. This specific element requires proposals for research in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency. These may include research in a number of disciplines including; engineering, physics, economics, or policy.

All students graduating with higher honours in science, engineering and technology are entitled to apply for funding but must be entering into research for the first time in October 2004. Under the programme €19,050 maximum per annum will be available to Masters and Doctorate students. Of this, €12,700 will go directly to the student and the remainder will be available to fund other forms of support such as fees, appropriate travel and other expenses.

The second major investment, this time by Science Foundation Ireland under its Discover Science & Engineering initiative, will see €500,000 invested in an initiative that could give more than 50 second-level teachers per year the opportunity to conduct research in Irish laboratories over a period of three summers.

Through the initiative, successful teachers will receive support to conduct research alongside an SFI-funded researcher or research team during school holiday periods for up to eight weeks. The goal is to help teachers renew their interest in science as researchers, connect them with science faculty in the universities and institutes of technology, and enhance the teaching of science across the educational system.

The initiative, to be called the “Science Teacher Assistant Researchers” (STAR) programme will involve SFI and members of the Irish Science Teachers Association (ISTA) and is being jointly encouraged by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, and the Department of Education and Science.

By John Kennedy