Director, Software Research Institute
Cluster Manager, ATIM (Advanced Technologies in Manufacturing)
Dr. Jamie Meehan
Cluster Manager of IDEAM
(Advanced Manufacturing Cluster in Ireland)
Dr. Margaret Brennan Fournet
PRISM Research Institute
A unique ecosystem linking education and industry is enabling universities to shape courses that will deliver future talent with the relevant skill sets manufacturers are seeking.
Close links between Technological Universities and industry in Ireland are supporting manufacturers to better develop processes and products. It is important that universities deliver a workforce with the relevant skills to meet the needs of industry. TUS (Technological University of The Shannon) with more than 15,000 students and almost 100,00 students across it Regional University Network (RUN-EU) has a wide and growing rapport with industry clients.
The university conducts high-impact national and international research and has a proven track record for the delivery of technology solutions to industry in the manufacturing domain with a particular focus on Engineering, Polymer, Biotechnology and ICT. Engaging with and responding to needs by tailoring courses and providing expert technology solutions is core to its partnerships across industry and society.
Shaping skills for industry needs
Industry expert Brian Lee outlines how that is being achieved across the TUS Midwest and Midlands region. University courses are shaped to match the skills needs of industry, often in response to specific feedback from the manufacturing sector.
A framework of organisations involving Technology Gateways and clusters of like-minded SMEs and multinational companies, ensure regular two-way information flow and bridge the critical gap between industry and university. “The clusters are key to ensuring that we understand and have insight into the needs of companies,” he adds. “All that feeds back into the development of a comprehensive set of courses.”
Lee is the Director of the Athlone-based Software Research Institute with multiple campus locations. “It is about offering a full suite of solutions for industry while simultaneously training highly skilled researchers who can transfer knowledge directly to future employers,” he adds.
“It is a holistic offering, and we are all very tuned in to make sure we have that end-to-end offering on skills, research and delivery of solutions and innovation,” says Lee.
The whole ethos is active-based industry learning.Jamie Meehan
Creating a collaborative ecosystem
Jamie Meehan is Cluster Manager of the IDEAM (Irish Digital Engineering Advanced Manufacturing) cluster, which supports precision engineering, aerospace and medical device companies through digitalisation and green transition.
“We meet with industry to do a needs analysis and develop our strategic offerings based on those needs in areas of talent and skills, leadership and digitalisation to support these companies,” he says. Meehan sees the university is continuing to grow its collaborative ecosystem to support future industry needs. “The whole ethos is active-based industry learning,” he says. ATIM (Advanced Technologies in Manufacturing) Cluster Manager Caitríona Mordan sees ATIM as providing “boots on the ground” to enable companies to access support within the university for digital and sustainability adoption.
One-stop shop for technology
The Technology Gateways, which sit between the clusters and the research, provide engineering solutions to companies in areas such as AI, digital transformation, biotechnology and polymer development. TUS has a core expertise in polymer and plastics innovation in Ireland.
Margaret Brennan Fournet, Assistant Director of the Polymer Recycling Innovation Sustainability and Manufacturing (PRISM) Research Institute, says an aim is to help manufacturing industries achieve sustainability for their products and processes.
The technologies include new low-carbon eco plastics generation and using waste postconsumer plastics as a resource for conversion to new plastics without further fossil fuel extraction. “Our PerPETual technology provides indefinite recycling for PET Plastics and is used in drinks bottles, food packaging and textiles. Working with companies with these sustainable technologies serves to strengthen their competitiveness, facilitate job retention and create new circular value chains,” she says.
“Our skills and solutions offering is needs-led, and we listen to those companies,” says Lee. “Our message to companies is ‘we are a one-stop shop for your needs and have the mechanisms in place to deliver what you need.’”