New robotics and automation degree to be launched in Galway

11 Jun 2021

Image: © Blue Planet Studio/

Galway-based Thermo King has teamed up with GMIT on a new course that will give students hands-on experience.

A new bachelor of engineering degree in automation and robotics is looking to boost STEM skills in the west of Ireland.

Manufacturing company Thermo King and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) have co-developed the course. The initiative includes the design of a special robotics automation training centre at Thermo King’s base in Galway, where students will be able to get hands-on experience.

Dr Orla Flynn, president of GMIT, said the new degree is an example of how the institute can “support FDI companies in the region”, providing students with the skills necessary for industry jobs.

Thermo King is a manufacturer of transport temperature control systems. It is a subsidiary of Trane Technologies, which employs more than 37,000 people globally and 800 people in Ireland at locations in Galway, Shannon and Dublin.

The company’s Galway manufacturing plant has a workforce of nearly 600.

“In recent years, Thermo King has invested heavily in new technologies and the development of critical automation skills at the Galway campus,” said Cormac Mac Donncha, vice-president of integrated supply chain at Thermo King EMEA.

“The new robotics automation training centre is equipped with classrooms and labs involving 3D manufacturing, robotics, visions systems and PLCs, allowing students to get real-time experience during their study.”

The project is being supported by the Irish Government through IDA Ireland. The agency’s CEO, Martin Shanahan, said Thermo King has been a “significant” employer in Galway since 1976 and the new initiative demonstrates the company’s “continued commitment” to the west of Ireland.

“IDA Ireland’s strategy places a strong focus on industry 4.0 and client investment in training and upskilling that will have potentially transformative impacts for companies,” he added.

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy, TD, said the new degree will attract people looking to develop skills in this area and make a “major contribution to the innovation capability” in the region. Minister of State and Galway TD Hildegarde Naughton added that it could place Galway “on the world map for engineering and automation”.

A number of new courses have been announced recently that are aiming to prepare students for jobs in evolving STEM industries.

In the area of automation, UiPath has partnered with Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board and the ABP School of Automation to deliver a new training programme.

University of Limerick has developed an immersive software engineering programme that will put students in residencies with tech companies including Stripe, Zalando and Intercom.

Meanwhile, IT Sligo is rolling out a networks and cybersecurity course, and a project led by Munster Technological University is looking create innovative cybersecurity courses through collaborations with enterprise, research entities and academic partners – all in a bid to address the critical skills shortage when it comes to cybersecurity professionals in Ireland.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic