Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's our birthday

Today we are 1! Our library blog has reached the grand old age of twelve months, and what an eventful twelve months it has been. This year has seen a great number of changes in our library as we build a more student-centred service. Some of our bigger changes include:

  • The arrival of SID – a new student information service for full time students
  • Rezoning of the library – to enable students to work in groups or to work quietly, as they prefer
  • Self-issue machine – students can now borrow, renew or return their books without queuing
  • Read and write gold – assistive software installed on all PCs in the library
  • Online subject resources – new resource pages for ITB students via Moodle
  • Ask a librarian – new online reference service which enables students to ask for specific information

2010-2011 has been a great year for the Library. We look forward to this year being bigger and better!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Celebrating our mature students

This week we are celebrating the Aontas Adult Learners' Festival. It is a great opportunity to reflect on the achievements of students who return to study bringing with them a variety of real-life experiences and skills.

There are a variety of practical and entertaining events in Dublin this week; from improving your CV and enterprise lecturers to art tours and French conversation groups!

Friday, February 18, 2011

A final word for Engineer's Week

by Larry McNutt
Head of Informatics and Engineering at ITB

Thanks to all our contributors during the week Mohamad, Richard and Garret. It provides just a small flavour of the many exciting opportunities that exist in the field of engineering. Off course since the economic downturn many graduates have opted to emigrate to other countries to seek their fortune. Not a new vista for Irish citizens I’m afraid. In fact if you had opted to travel to Australia a 100 years ago you may have been surprised to see an Irish engineer capturing the headlines in the National and local press.

Charles Yelverton O’Connor was an Irish engineer originally from County Meath who had the vision and audacity in 1896 to suggest that a water pipeline should be built from Perth to the West Australian goldfields of Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. This was a distance of over 500km uphill through the desert to serve the rapidly growing gold mining communities.

The project was an outstanding success and enabled the goldfields of Western Australia to prosper and subsequently underpin the strength and prosperity of the Australian economy as we know it today. Unfortunately, O’Connor died tragically shortly before the water flowed from the huge Mundaring Weir Dam in Perth 500km to the Kalgoorlie reservoir.

The transformative power of Irish engineering continues in the 21st century and you have a great opportunity to be a part of it!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

LinGen [Engineer's Week]

by Garret Brady
Lecturer in Engineering at ITB

The LinGen project is a collaboration between engineers here in ITB and in Wavebob Ltd, an Irish company, to come up with a novel electrical generator that will harvest power from ocean waves.

Going since April 2010 and set to continue for two years, the project tackles the problem of converting the irregular, up-and-down motion of sea waves directly to regular, dependable electrical power. To do this we are mixing electric machine technology that is over one hundred years old with entirely new power electronics devices, control systems and fabrication techniques -- and making a lot up as we go along!

Ireland has one of the most energetic sea coasts in the world, and wave power could provide a huge chunk of the power we need to live in this country. Once we prove this new concept in renewable power generation, it will open the door to mass production of commercial wave-energy converter units. This promises power generation with no fuel costs, no reliance on imported fossil fuels and no emissions.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Engineer's Week

by Richard Gallery
Head of the Department of Engineering, ITB

I've always been interested in why things happen, which, in my case, makes engineering a career in which every day at college or at work brings something interesting to think about or do. My time in college was most enjoyable, combining learning about fascinating technology and its application, along with an appreciation of all of the other aspects of college life.
After college, I went to work as a research scientist with Philips Electronics, focussing on embedded systems and virtual reality. It was hard work (but it never felt like that) as we were working with leading edge (we called it Bleeding edge because it could be so unreliable) technology to make applications that had only been dreams in people’s minds before that. Amongst other projects, we produced an interactive immersive virtual reality experience for SIGGRAPH (the premier conference in the field of graphics) in which artificial intelligence driven 3D dragon flies played soccer against each other and against participants.
Over the years I was fortunate enough to witness (and participate in in some cases) many key aspects of technology under development, the first screening of high-definition TV back in the 90's, early DVD technology as my colleagues worked to turn the technology into reality, the development of the internet for mobile devices, the development of LCD screens for TV. Later I worked for the Irish company (part of Philips back then) Silicon and Software Systems, where I led a team that developed a DSP music application for the Chinese DVD market (actually, it was a karaoke machine, which, given my west Clare roots, growing up surrounded by wonderful traditional Irish Music, has left me always feeling uneasy about this one).
In 1999 a new aspect of my career commenced, working at ITB, developing and delivering Engineering courses aimed at helping ITB meets its mission to D15 and its hinterland. It’s been different, but fascinating in many ways. In order to teach something you really have to understand it deeply, and consequently being a lecturer has only acted to increase my knowledge of the theory and practice of engineering. I can't say I don't miss the buzz of developing real-time embedded graphics and audio systems, but working in ITB brings its own satisfaction, I’ve been involved in numerous projects and activities at ITB, including several research projects, and, for 4 years, have been Head of Department of Engineering at ITB. However I am in no doubt that the highlight, for me is the opportunity, once a year, to congratulate our graduates after the annual graduation ceremony.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Engineering and our future!

By: Dr. Mohamad Saleh (BSc. , M.Eng, PhD, CEng , MIET)
School of Informatics and Engineering, ITB

Engineering can be defined as a balance of scientific, analytical and technical skills which enable engineers to provide the optimal solutions for the simple, as well as, complicated real world engineering problems. Typically the course leading to the eng ineering degree, at tertiary education, is based on an approved course schedule containing all the relevant topics which will be delivered by educators in a series of lectures throughout the course. As a profession, Engineering involves management of resource including people, money, machines, systems and energy. Simply Engineering is an area for the creativity, innovation, empowerment, and brain power for useful applications in a society. Thus, it can be true to say that level of genuine engineering involvement in a society gives a significant measure of the healthy economy.

Historically speaking, global societies have developed through agricultural, industrial and the information/ communication Technology phases. Through these phases, there have been major turning points in engineering education. In early times engineering started as a craft, a job for skilled people. At that time, training was achieved though some forms of apprenticeship. Prior to the World War II and around the Industrial Revolution, mass production and mechanization were invented and then engineering education was to develop and apply ideas that were already in existence. Thus, engineering education was delivered in applied fashion.

After World War II , 3rd level Curricula in Engineering became much more scientific and mathematical, and Engineering Education was delivered in an innovative fashion to cater for the development in new technology (i.e Micro Chip and computer technology). At present, the world witnessing a phase of information/ communication technology where brain power machines, smart devices and products are widely available in the global market. Consequently, engineering education is set out to be delivered in an integral or multidisciplinary form and hence, new disciplines in engineering have been well established at higher engineering educational institutions (e.g. Mechatronics, Biomechanics, Chemical Engineering, Micro and Nano Engineering etc.).With this in mind, it has been reported that each of the following can shape the role that engineering will play in the future:

  • The next scientific revolution.

  • Biotechnological developments in a societal context.

  • Interruptions in the technology cycle as a result of developments in the natural world.

  • Nanotechnology, natural science, photonics, information/communication technology and logistics.

  • Global conflict or globalization.

Overall, engineering is a privileged profession and engineering mind set is the way to a bright future for any nation. So, let’s “engineer” our way to a successful future.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Engineer's Week

This week is Engineer's Week; to mark the occasion we have a special blog post from Larry McNutt, Head of Informatics and Engineering at ITB.

Let me start by posing a question – well three questions in fact:

Question 1: Name three Irish sports personalities?

Question 2: Name three Irish politicians?

Question 3: Name three Irish engineers?

If you found Question 3 a bit of a struggle – don’t be surprised. The names of famous engineers and scientist don’t readily come to mind for most people. But if you Google them (now that was a useful invention!) you will find many examples of past and present Irish stars on the engineering stage.

Unfortunately we seem to have fallen out of love with engineering and science as a chosen career over the past few years.

This has lead to a shortage of qualified engineers and scientists worldwide:

Even though we live and breath in an engineered world – from transport, communications, food and drink, energy and entertainment to name but a few…our desire to create and invent has been relegated in favour of other areas. James Dyson (or Sir James Dyson to give his correct title) has been expressing his concern recently in the British press:

In 2008, Britain produced only 20,000 engineering graduates, compared with 33,000 social studies and 45,000 business and administration graduates.

I don’t want to discourage young people from pursuing their interests. But I worry we’re actively putting them off engineering and science. The best and brightest are too often channelled elsewhere, lured in by the salaries of the Square Mile. Perhaps it would help if more people knew that the earning potential of an engineering graduate is second only to a doctor.”

So how do we re-kindle the love affair between Irish students and the world of engineering and science?

A celebration of the opportunities and potential of an engineering career seems a good starting place – launched on St. Valentine’s Day to woo those CAO students who are wondering should they take the plunge and also an acknowledgement of the achievements of those engineers who did and continue to change the world we live in…..

Engineers Week is here – starting today 14th February with over 140 events all over the country. So check it out! at