Today is the start of Engineers Week 2012, and the head of Engineers Ireland has zeroed in on maths. According to John Power, parents are really starting to grasp the importance of maths education as a basis for future careers in the technology and engineering fields.
Engineers Week itself is running until Sunday, 4 March and there’s about 300 events happening in 24 counties across the island of Ireland.
Power said the most recent Engineers Ireland survey showed that more than 93pc of parents of Leaving and Junior Cert students had explained the importance of maths to their children. He said a similar Engineers Ireland survey last year had indicated that more than half of students surveyed had not had the long-term relevance of maths explained to them by their parents.
"Our new survey this year shows an improvement in this respect. Maths is the platform upon which a career in growing areas like engineering and technology is based," he said.
Skills gap and technology careers
However, Power pointed to how more than 4,300 students failed maths across all levels in the latest Leaving Cert exams.
"We still have a gap to bridge to ensure Ireland can produce workers with the requisite technical skills," he said.
Another issue was also highlighted by the latest survey, according to Power. That was to do with teacher qualifications in maths.
"Nearly 50pc of parents in our survey were still not clear whether their children’s maths teachers had a professional maths qualification," he said.
He cited the need for a greater awareness of the importance of maths with better standards and transparency in how the subject is taught in schools.
Power said this would help to fill the large amount of job vacancies emerging in the ICT and engineering sectors.
He said Engineers Week would be exploring such issues as better maths standards and greater transparency.
Leonardo Da Vinci: civil engineering designs
Leonardo Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance artist and sculptor who was also an inventor, engineer and mathematician and geologist, amongst many other things. For instance, the Vinci, Tuscany-born genius conceptualised a helicopter, concentrated solar power, a tank and the double hull. Although relatively few of his designs were constructed during his lifetime, in the field of civil engineering he made many important discoveries. You can visit the online site of the Mueso Leonardo Da Vinci, which is based in Florence, Italy
Interactive events this week
So what kind of events can people expect this week?
For Facebook users, there’s a maths competition on Engineers Ireland’s Facebook page. Each day people will be faced with a maths-related question on the social networking site. Users then have until 9am the following day to answer it. For every right answer €1 is donated to the charity Enable Ireland, which provides free services to children and adults with disabilities and their families. Correct answers will also progress through into an Engineers Ireland draw.
On Tuesday there will be a hackathon called Wargames Light at Engineers Ireland’s Dublin 4 HQ. The event will kick off at 6pm. It’s being described as an "ethical" hackathon to highlight security issues for third-level technology students. Joe Fitzpatrick, a chartered engineer and programme director at IBM Software Group, will be speaking at the event.
3D chip stacking
Then, on Wednesday, Liam Madden, vice-president at Xilinx, will give this year’s McLaughlin lecture on Moore’s Law at Engineers Ireland. The talk will look at 3D chip stacking and its implications for technology investment in Ireland.
The Minister for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock, TD, will also be heading out to schools on Thursday with volunteer engineers to talk about maths.
On Friday, there will be 120 ‘open day’ organised tours of company plants across Ireland. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, will be visiting the Siemens healthcare diagnostics plant in Swords, for instance.
At the weekend, there will be lots of family-oriented engineering events happening across Ireland to close up Engineers Week. On the Engineers Ireland website you can click on a county to find out all about its events.
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