AIT to Train Data Analysts for World’s Most Sophisticated Radio Telescope Network

Athlone Institute of Technology has partnered with the Local Enterprise Office, Offaly to launch the STREAM Creative Suite, a new €450,000 hub through which data generated by the I-LOFAR – the Irish component of the world’s largest and most sophisticated radio telescope network – can be collected and processed.

Based in the Birr Technology Centre, the STREAM Creative Suite is expected to attract data scientists and researchers from around the world, further stimulating the generation of high-tech jobs in the Midlands region. To support this growth, Athlone Institute of Technology will train an additional 360 people in the field of data analytics over the next three years through its Higher Diploma and Master of Science in Data Analytics.

Located adjacent to the historic Leviathan telescope, which was built in 1845 by the third Earl of Rosse on the grounds of Birr Castle, the I-LOFAR is the most westerly antenna in a chain of 52 spanning 2,000 kilometres across Europe. Using these multiple antennae, the telescope facilitates the study of celestial objects such as the sun, black holes and magnetic fields. Each station generates more than 3 gigabytes of data per second, which results in 6 petabytes per year.

This vast body of data feeds into a large supercomputer in Groningen, Netherlands, which uses it to create a unified radio telescope that enables scientists to observe the universe in unprecedented detail through low frequency radio waves. Currently, the I-LOFAR in Birr, which is the 12th and most recent addition to the network, is one of the most significant sources of this data.

According to Trevor Prendergast, head of department of Athlone Institute of Technology’s business computing: “this is a significant partnership for the institute, one that will leverage our expertise in delivering programmes in specialist areas, such as data analytics. We relish the opportunity to lead such an important data analysis project and look forward to meeting the training, educational and research needs of the STREAM Creative Suite project, ensuring the continued growth of the Midlands as a burgeoning high-tech hub”.

Harnessing the latest, cutting-edge research, industry-led training initiatives, enterprising start-ups and FDI clusters, the STREAM Creative Suite project will become a dynamic hub for research and economic development in the Midlands and a test-bed for big data in Ireland. Athlone Institute of Technology will be joined by the IMR in Mullingar and The Junction Business Innovation Centre in Tullamore in supporting this project.

Students, are you considering a career as a data analyst? Would like to get involved in projects like STREAM Creative Suite and I-LOFAR? Why not check out our suite of programmes, including our Higher Diploma in Data Analytics and our Master of Science in Data Analytics? Awarded Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year 2018, Athlone Institute of Technology is currently first nationally of all HEIs in the Irish league table for student satisfaction and first across the technological higher education sector for research.

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