TCD CONNECT Centre’s EDGE Programme wins engineering education award
02 December 2019
Hilary O’Meara, managing director, resources, Accenture Ireland, sponsor of the Engineering Education Award, pictured with Linda Ryan and Kevin Fraser, who accepted the award on behalf of the CONNECT Centre at Trinity College Dublin for their initiative, the Edge Programme. Caroline Spillane, director general of Engineers Ireland, is also pictured.
At the 10th annual Engineers Ireland Excellence Award, held on November 15 in association with ESB, the Engineering Education Award was presented to EDGE, a training programme for postdoctoral researchers led by the CONNECT Centre at Trinity College Dublin.
The Engineering Education Award, sponsored by Accenture, recognises innovation and excellence in Irish engineering education. It is presented to the school of engineering, institution or organisation that has positively impacted student learning coupled with an actual or planned contribution to the economy.
Next generation of thought leaders in ICT engineering
EDGE is a prestigious Marie Skłodowska Curie EU-funded training and development programme for ICT engineers. It emerged from the partnership of three Science Foundation Ireland research centres in Trinity College Dublin: CONNECT, AMBER and ADAPT. EDGE’s goal is to form the next generation of thought leaders in ICT engineering.
Since launching in 2016, EDGE has now attracted 52 top class researchers to Ireland from 23 countries. EDGE Fellows are world leading researchers, recruited through a competitive international peer review process consisting of the evaluation of a research proposal and interview.
EDGE places these researchers in three cutting-edge areas of vital importance to the Irish economy: future networks and communications; digital content and media technologies; and advanced materials and bioengineering.
EDGE has made a significant contribution to engineering human capital in Ireland by providing these engineers – already highly accomplished in their academic fields – with opportunities for interdisciplinary and industry-focused research, as well as training in essential transferable skills such as leadership development, the cultivation of creative thinking, and a strong focus on female empowerment in engineering.
Of the 52 fellows to date, 26 have departed into full-time positions with seven Fellows moving into the private sector (such as Accenture) and 17 pursuing academic careers. The majority of the Fellows have remained in Ireland. This is a fantastic retention rate of highly skilled engineers.
Research and skills development
EDGE researchers are not only technically excellent in their own discipline but are challenged to perform high-value, highly interdisciplinary research, with an acute understanding of the entire ICT pipeline, for example, one researcher is combining sociology with their smart city engineering research, while another is developing software to assist with mental health.
They are also trained to communicate this value to stakeholders and to the general public and so far have participated in over 100 unique Education and Public Engagement activities.
EDGE has hired a dedicated learning and development specialist, Linda Ryan, demonstrating the priority it places on the importance of skills development in addition as well as engineering excellence.
This career development support aims to help the engineers evolve into leaders in their field, even after the programme concludes.
The EDGE training programme was developed with reference to tools such as the Vitae Career Development Framework, which include skills such as governance and organisation, influence and impact, as well as the competencies listed on the Engineering Ireland website such as the application of knowledge, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills and professional conduct.
The programme has evolved to cover five streams; coaching and mentoring, creative practices, interdisciplinary networking events, funding opportunities and transferable skills.
There is also a women’s leadership initiative as well as visits to industry collaborators to hear about hiring and recruitment procedures and opportunities.
Included in the EDGE Women’s Leadership Programme, which specifically supports the career aspirations of the women on our programme, are topics just as imposter syndrome and commanding presence. There was also a strong networking component to this stream.
Throughout the programme specific people-focused topics include conflict management, team building, and leadership development.
Communication skills are also developed. This helps the Fellows to communicate their work to diverse audiences and the overall development of their transferable skills.
The Pathways to Funding (PWTF) component of the training, aims to equip the engineers with the ability to write successful funding proposals vital for a research career, thus building further capacity for the future.
Finally each participants can avail of one-to-one career coaching and can avail of the support of the EDGE management team in relation to anything to do with the projects or their careers.
EDGE is visionary as it establishes strong relationships between industry and the Research Fellows. This further strengthens the growing culture of partnership between industry and academia in Irish higher education institutes.
More than 70 companies currently partner with the three SFI research centres at the heart of the EDGE programme, ranging from major multinationals to SMEs and start-ups, all of which typically contribute cash or in-kind to collaborate on targeted research projects.
Fellows are therefore able to choose from a wide range of companies, and are guided to select and shape a secondment that best suits their scientific and transferable skills training goals.
These secondments have provided each fellow with further opportunities to interact with industry so as to exercise and further develop relevant transferable skills.
EDGE has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 713567.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2019/12/02/53340/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/a1-43-1024x683.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/a1-43-300x300.jpgNewsawards,education,TCD