Taoiseach Enda Kenny has just formally opened the new Engineering and Informatics Building at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT). The facility, which gleaned a €36m investment from the Department of Education and Skills, is aiming to be at the forefront of future engineering education in Ireland, said AIT president Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin this afternoon.
As well as the Taoiseach, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Ireland, Abdulaziz Aldriss, was at today’s opening of the Engineering and Informatics Building in Athlone.
The facility itself was designed by McCullough Mulvin Architects. In 2010, it won the prize for best educational building at the Irish Architecture Awards.
Speaking this afternoon, Ó Catháin described the 11,000 sq-metre facility as "a landmark on campus". He said it is not just a landmark in terms of its physical presence and the technology it embodies, but pointed to how the engineering centre is sparking new partnerships.
"Significantly, it positions the School of Engineering to the forefront of engineering education in Ireland," said Ó Catháin.
Already, faculty, students and researchers in mechanical, renewable and sustainable engineering electronics and software engineering, polymer engineering, plus civil and construction engineering are using the building.
Engineering education and industry
Ó Catháin also said engineering education has been "written into the DNA" of AIT since its inception. He also spoke today of the importance the institutes of technology (ITs), such as AIT, place on engaging with industry.
"As an academic community, we listen closely to what they are saying about their needs, responding to the requirements for particular skills, such as the need for graduates in cloud computing and network management, for polymer technologists for the medical device industry, for environmental engineering scientists, for green technologists," he said.
More than 1,000 engineering students are currently registered at AIT. Engineering students can also undertake a PhD and post-doctoral work on the AIT campus.
Technological universities and changing face of IT education in Ireland
The ITs have been in the news in recent week as the institutes in the border, midland and west (BMW) region announced their plan to pool their resources to create a technological university in the region, in a move to also ignite greater linkages with local industry. The BMW steering group comprised The steering group comprises presidents and senior staff of Athlone Institute of Technology, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, and Institute of Technology, Sligo.
Last week the ITs in Munster – Cork Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Tralee and Limerick Institute of Technology – announced their plan to create a Munster Technological University.