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Donegal Supports Budding Engineers

Engineering comes to life in Inishowen next week, as Spraoi agus Spórt kick off a series of events for young people. The free events take place as part of Engineers Week on 4th– 10th March, which gives children a chance to explore the creative and diverse opportunities an engineering career offers.

A recent survey by Engineers Ireland (EI) shows there is a severe shortage of experienced engineers in Ireland. Spraoi chief executive, Helen Nolan, says events like EI’s Engineers Week can help point Inishowen children to positive future career options.  Parents can book a place through their website www.spraoiagussport.ie or by contacting Programme Coordinator Aine Kelly at  aine@spraoiagussport.ie.

Engineers Week in Inishowen

Helen says Engineers Week will bring Spraoi’s Digital Creative Lab to a wider range of Inishowen children. “It is an opportunity for children who have had a taste of our STEAM (science, technology, engineering & maths) activities in school and want to do more outside school. The focus is on children who haven’t had a chance yet to have fun learning with programmable robots, electronics, circuits, 3D printing and digital design.”

Spraoi will run activities for 15 young people every afternoon next week, ranging from 6-year-olds up to teenagers: Mon 3.30-5pm is for 1st and 2nd class, Tuesday 3.30-5pm is for 2nd and 3rd class, Thursday 3.30-5pm is for 5th and 6th class and Wednesday from 4pm-5.30pm will be for secondary school students.  The events will be held at their Digital Creative Lab in Unit 9 at Supervalu.

Spraoi’s Digital Creative Lab

Throughout the year, the Lab offers outreach into schools, holiday camps, after school and birthday parties.  To find out more about the lab, go to https://spraoiagussport.ie/creative-lab/

“Aine, Paul and Chris in the Digital Creative Lab have designed new activities open to children as young as 7 to try the equipment and challenges of the Lab for the first time,” says Helen.  “All of the sessions are FREE, thanks to local sponsor, Inishowen Co-Op who help fund the Lab.”

“Children generally aren’t aware of the range of opportunities which engineering offers. Our activities aim to demystify what engineering is about and get them working on hands-on activities which involve engineering skills. This helps children understand better and makes them keen to learn more about engineering.”

Mark Devlin, Engineering Teacher at Carndonagh Community Schools says what Spraoi offers at the lab helps students develop spatial awareness of different objects.  “It gets them problem solving and thinking of solutions to problems. It’s cross-curricular, bringing all subjects together such as math, science, engineering and art and it allows them to be imaginative.”

Background to Engineers Week

Engineers Week is run annually by Engineers Ireland (EI), who have over 25,000 members. “Engineers play a critical role in shaping the world around us and play an important role in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges,” says Michael Bassett, Chair of Engineers Ireland’s Donegal Region. Michael says Engineers Week is run as part of STEPS – a non-profit outreach EI programme which promotes interest and awareness in engineering as a future career.” The EI’s latest employers’ survey, the first since the pandemic, showed that 72% of respondents were majorly concerned about the shortage of engineers with the correct skills. These engineering employers see this shortage as the main barrier to business growth.

We are all aware of the recent job cuts in the tech sector – many of them in the engineering area. It is important to stress that there are other sectors which are in urgent need of engineers e.g. construction and consultancy, with almost 8,000 new jobs anticipated in these sectors in 2023.” Helen Nolan says engineering is part of everyday life and we want to “bring the skills and potential of engineering to children through fun and engaging activities. We aim to inspire and motivate young people to understand the basics, enjoy learning, and look to engage more with STEAM subjects.  Helen says it’s also important to look ahead to future skills gaps, which can help areas like Inishowen tackle regional disadvantage.