SFI grant indirectly helps Cork school develop engineering skills

22 Jul 2015

Students Megan O'Carroll (12) and Sinead Stack (11) pictured with Dr Ita Richardson, Principal Investigator with Lero, in Rockchapel Primary School, North Cork. Image via Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

The successful Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funding of Limerick-based software research group Lero has had an unexpected offshoot project develop from it that sees a primary school in Cork develop design and engineering skills.

Lero was one of seven new industry-academia partnerships announced recently worth a total of €480,000, which was awarded through the SFI Industry Fellowship Programme.

Valued at almost €85,000, Lero’s project works with ADA Security based in Rockchapel, Co Cork.

For the duration of the project, Lero’s Dr Ita Richardson will be researching with ADA Security’s management to develop and evaluate a quality management system for medical device software.  The partnership’s eventual goal is to make this software available for use within other small companies that are diversifying into health and medical software development.

During her time in ADA as principal investigator, Dr Richardson found herself overlooking the local two-teacher primary school, Rockchapel Primary School.

She subsequently went on to visit the school once a week for 10 weeks to work with children in 3rd to 6th class on two technology-related activities, including designing an online shop and a construction engineering project developed by Engineers’ Ireland.

Speaking of the initiative, principal of the school Eileen Curtin said: “It is rare indeed that a primary school would have a visiting academic from a national research institute to work with pupils, especially one located in a rural setting.

“Dr Richardson is giving the children a super insight into technology in a fun, creative way.  They have had the opportunity to try out design for software and for construction.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic