European Space Agency launches ESERO in Ireland

7 Jan 2011

Discover Science & Engineering (DSE) has partnered with the European Space Agency to set up the European Space Education Resource Office here as a new space education resource, so students can capitalise on the career opportunities out there.

Ann Fitzpatrick, who is managing ESERO in Ireland, says it will act as a resource for teachers in order to help them embrace a more interactive way of learning in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

“ESA Education looks for partners in the country that are already embedded in the education system. In this case it was Discover Science and Engineering. They use the partner then to take the ESA Education material and deliver the space theme into the local education system and help get kids interested in science, technology and engineering,” she explains.

While the ESA has partnerships with 14 countries, it has so far set up ESEROs in five countries, initially piloting in the Netherlands, then Belgium, Norway and in Ireland and the UK in 2010.

Careers in the space sector

Under her role at ESERO, Fitzpatrick will develop and distribute space-themed educational materials for teachers, as well as forging links within industry group and organisations that are working in the space sector here in Ireland.

“We are trying to get information to help them teach science in a way that’s interesting and exciting for kids. Really, it’s around enabling teachers and giving them information to help them deliver their classes in a more enquiry-based way. So instead of the teacher telling the kids what to do, the teacher facilitates the children in discovering the information for themselves,” explains Fitzpatrick.

“We also want to help parents understand what are the opportunities for children in the space sector. We want to help them understand that there is an industry and that space is much broader than just astronauts in a space station – there are huge opportunities for people with engineering degrees, science degrees and computer science degrees to get involved in this sort of work.

“The ESA also has very proactive graduate programmes, and with Ireland being a member of ESA Irish people get a preference in terms of getting on an ESA programme. There’s some really good career opportunities for young engineers and scientists,” she explains.

To view all ESA career opportunities, click here.

Space industry in Ireland

“There are companies in Ireland doing small parts of larger ESA projects and there’s a lot more potential there for Irish companies to get involved. Because we’re a member of ESA we pay a membership fee and we’re expected to get that back in contracts,” says Fitzpatrick.

“Space areas Irish companies get involved in would be earth observation for instance. Techworks Marine has done some really interesting work using satellites to monitor jellyfish.

Space sector

In 2010 Enterprise Ireland released a document Leading Edge Technologies for Space, which showcased Ireland’s space capabilities.

The Galway-based ÉireComposites, for instance, is a design, manufacturing and testing company that’s involved in lightweight, high- performance, fibre-reinforced composite materials. The company, which is engaged in several ESA and industry-funded research and development activities, has an international customer base in space, aerospace and industrial composites.

Cork company Farran Technology, meanwhile, provides millimeter-wave (mmWave) product solutions. According to Enterprise Ireland, Farran has for many years been a world leader in design of specialised radiometers, which are used to monitor the earth’s resources and weather patterns.

Founded in 2001, Eblano Photonics manufactures laser diode products for the space, medical, sensor and optical communications industries.

The Castlebar company Fibrepulse designs and manufactures high-performance fibre optic interconnect devices for the global aerospace, telecoms and medical devices market. It has been working with the ESA on the Space Fibre programme since 2003.

Headquartered at Kerry Technology Park, Altobridge is a provider of telecommunications solutions that cut the cost of communications to, from, and between wireless devices.

Tyndall National Institute at UCC has participated in R&D projects for the ESA since 1988. For further information on the Enterprise Ireland report click here.

To see all Enterprise Ireland space education announcements on Facebook, click here.

Ireland has been a member of the ESA since 1975. It participates in a range of ESA programmes, including GALILEO, ARTES, FLPP and GSTP.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic