The seeds sown to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in the Mid-West over recent years are bearing fruit judging by the 2023 BD STEM Stars Awards, Site Lead for BD’s Research Center Ireland (RCI) in Limerick, Seán Wall, has stated.
Commenting after Mary Immaculate, Lisdoonvarna student Fionn Rush took second place and a €6,000 cheque for his school to go towards STEM facilities, Mr. Wall said that the standard of innovation amongst the participating schools was hugely encouraging for STEM related sectors.
The newly appointed site lead also pledged BD’s continued leadership in the region and internationally in the promotion of STEM through the awards programme, and the bursary and scholarship programme run by BD – one of the world’s leading med-tech companies – for students at nearby University of Limerick.
The BD 2023 STEM Stars Award, which is supported by the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB), is the biggest such awards programme in the region.
BD STEM STARS is an initiative from BD Research Centre Ireland that aims to promote participation in STEM subjects and demonstrate how they can be applied to solving real-life health issues. Now in its fourth year, the initiative is open to all secondary schools in the Mid-West.
Some 15 secondary schools from counties Clare, Limerick and Tipperary were welcomed by Mr. Wall and his team to the RCI for the finals, creating a chamber of colour, excitement and no shortage of innovation across the day as they presented their individual projects and were given tours of the state-of-the-art research centre.
Mr. Wall’s comments came after the Lisdoonvarna school student was just narrowly edged into second place by a team from Desmond College in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. Fionn’s project explored if neural networks can aid hearing-impaired people to lipread. The €6,000 prize fund he earned for Mary Immaculate will go towards STEM related facilities at the school.
RCI is a state-of-the-art facility adjacent to the University of Limerick campus that develops innovative technologies to improve biomedical discovery, clinical diagnosis of disease, and the delivery of care for patients and health care workers. It currently employs 370 experts in software development, software testing, systems engineering, mechanical and electronic engineering, project management, quality and biosciences including immunology. The diverse, collaborative team brings together people from 27 countries working in multidisciplinary teams to solve problems and advance the world of health.
Senior R&D Director and Site Lead Mr, Wall said: “The BD STEM Stars Awards are a source of great pride across the BD network here in Ireland and beyond and the first-hand experience I got today confirmed for me why that is. First and foremost, it’s a wonderful initiative and effort by the team here at RCI to stage this competition in partnership with LCETB as there’s no small amount of work involved in coordinating a programme like this with schools across the region. What was equally noticeable was the spirit of collaboration between our team and the schools, which was so positive to see.
“But above all, it was the passion, the excitement, and the innovation that the students and their teachers brought to the event that stood out and it reaffirms why it has become such an important event, not just for BD but for STEM in our region.
Donncha Ó Treasaigh, Director of Schools at Limerick and Clare ETB said: “We are delighted to partner with BD in promoting this awards programme. It goes to the heart of a very important national objective to promote STEM learning in our schools and this is something that we are very committed to. It’s a superb initiative by BD as it not alone promotes STEM subjects but, by participating, students get an insight into the incredibly exciting career that they can have in STEM, a career in which they can make a real impact on people’s lives and work in cutting-edge environments like BD’s RCI Centre here in Limerick.”
The competition was launched in November, with schools submitting their final entries to BD last month.
To find out more about the BD STEM Stars programme and participants, visit https://emea.jobs.bd.com/bd-stem stars.