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Home » AI & Digital Transformation » Computer science courses to boost talent pool in Ireland and encourage AI startups

Prof Michael Madden

Established Professor and Head, School of Computer Science, University of Galway

Dr James McDermott

Director of Research and Graduate Studies, School of Computer Science, University of Galway

A leading university has strengthened its ties to industry with an innovative partnership amid a drive to see more tech startups in Ireland and help nurture talent in the field.

Director of Research and Graduate Studies at University of Galway, Dr James McDermott says: “Ireland is very strong in the tech sector with multinationals and a strong ecosystem with a lot of talent and ambition, but we do not have the same startup culture that exists in Silicon Valley and other places.”

Education to support AI startups and talent

The School of Computer Science at University of Galway consistently ranks high for research, teaching and industry partnerships, staying current with trends and adapting to industry needs. They have recently established an external advisory board of senior industry figures to help shape new programmes, teaching approaches and research collaborations.

They have also created new courses in AI and data analytics to support development of new talent. These include advanced master’s and post-graduate conversion programmes and shorter courses for people who want to understand AI and its implications from a business perspective.

“We have particular strengths in AI, deep learning, cybersecurity, linked data and natural language processing and conduct impactful research in using simulation methods to inform public policy and health,” says McDermott. However, he remains concerned that the higher education sector is underfunded compared to other countries in terms of student-staff ratios and research.

Long-term prospects are promising as new
tools gain recognition for their real value.

Evolving need for computer science

Head of the School of Computer Science, Professor Michael Madden, says that while language models can generate code, there remains a need to study computer science. “The history of computer science and software engineering over the past 50 years has been one of trying to automate our jobs: moving from machine code to low-level programming languages to high-level languages, code generation tools and, now, Copilot-style tools.

“Instead of being a zero-sum game where productivity tools lead to fewer programmers being needed, past developments have led to an explosion of software development.”

Tech ecosystem with long-term promise

Madden, who leads the Machine Learning Research Group, observes: “We are undoubtedly in a period of hype, which may be followed by a slump, but long-term prospects are promising as new tools gain recognition for their real value.”

While there is a solid education and research foundation, he wants to see a strengthening of a tech ecosystem that facilitates and celebrates startups and recognises innovation. Finally, he believes there are excellent tech career opportunities for students within multinational and indigenous companies.

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