Education is the engine of future prosperity – Intel Ireland boss

26 May 2011

The head of Intel Ireland, which employs 4,000 people in Ireland and which has invested €25m in boosting technology in Irish schools, said that while the nation’s education system has served it well, it’s time to move on to the next level.

Speaking at the Intel Open Forum on Education, Eamonn Sinnott, general manager of Intel Ireland and vice-president of Intel’s Technology Manufacturing Group, paraphrased Intel CEO Paul Otellini: “Innovation improves a country in quality and rigour and is the engine of future prosperity.”

He continued: “There’s a real resonance in that for Intel where education and advancement are at the core.”

In January, it emerged that Intel would begin a substantial new US$500m construction project at its Leixlip campus, where it already employs around 4,000 people. The project will prepare the Leixlip facility for the future and to handle the production of technologies that may not have been invented yet.

Sinnott pointed to the latest advancement at Intel, the bringing to production of a revolutionary new 3D transistor design called Tri-Gate that will enable Moore’s Law to continue doubling the number of transistors on chips for the next decade.

“This will enable technology innovation to continue and will enter production later this year.

“What we have learned is we are limited only by our creativity and imagination. What happens at Intel is we start with sand and end up with microprocessors but it’s the stuff that happens in the middle that makes the difference.

“The education system needs to evolve to ensure that we are at the heart of that kind of innovation.”

At the forum, Sinnott and Taoiseach Enda Kenny officially launched Intel’s Smart Class initiative with Edco and Steljes to equip second-level students with Fizzbook tablet-style laptops.

“Our education system has served us well, but the first step is to decide to compete and what it’s going to take for us to win,” Sinnott said.

Smart Class Competition

The Smartclass competition asks schools to create an e-book depicting ‘Smart Class of the future – 2025’. The best entry will win a “complete technology package for an entire first year of students”. The package includes:

  • A Fizzbook laptop for an entire first-year class of the winning post primary school
  • Accompanying software optimised for education
  • Full digital curriculum content for the entire junior cycle
  • Wireless LAN fit-out for the school environment
  • Relevant teach training facilitation
  • Continual independent program assessment and evaluation

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years