Science and technology – twin engines to drive recovery
Key subjects to get us back on track, writes Katherine Donnelly
Science Week and its theme, 'Exploring the XTRA-Ordinary' is being celebrated all around the country this week.
It is a great opportunity to see, and get a better understanding of the role of science and technology in our daily lives and to explore some of the great work being done in these fields in Ireland.
While this week is about highlighting the fun and interactive side of science and technology, there is a more serious intent.
Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government said a good knowledge of STEM was important to the future of Irish society and to the economy in general.
He said a formal qualification or training in STEM subjects equipped graduates for a very wide range of careers and what was really important was that many of these careers were highly relevant to Ireland.
"We have multinational companies in areas such as medical devices, ICT, games and pharmaceutical and all of these industries required people with STEM qualification," he said.
Prof Ferguson said it was not only about the particular subject, as study in these areas equipped students with the ability to solve problems.
"Science is a way of thinking, of analysing information, of seeing what is a reasonable conclusion to deduce from the evidence and then outlining a series of actions and moderating the outcome depending on what you can see."
He said that many of the students in school at present would be employed in industries we don't yet even know about.
"The great thing about STEM education is that it not only equips you for jobs now, but also to deal with the future," Prof Ferguson said.
He noted that mobile phone apps were not a business seven years ago, but now many people were enjoying the success of that discovery.
With a likely acceleration in the pace of technological change, he predicted there would be many more such examples.