Ireland’s first academic network dedicated to promoting STEM research across the technological higher education sector claimed a top prize at the prestigious Education Awards in Ballsbridge, Dublin last week.
The Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Network, which comprises nine institutes of technology, was awarded ‘Best Academic Partnership’ for its work in encouraging undergraduate research through the delivery of workshops, an annual conference, curriculum development and a newly established academic journal.
The Best Academic Partnership category rewards innovative, bold and creative strategies and initiatives used to foster effective collaborations. To be successful, the awardees must provide evidence of exceptional performance within each partner organisation against specific indicators, such as innovation, teaching and research standards, and the student experience.
Welcoming the news, Dr Therese Montgomery, SURE Network member and lecturer in the Department of Life and Physical Science at Athlone Institute of Technology, said: “The SURE Network provides an excellent platform to highlight the quality and diversity of research being conducted and supervised at undergraduate level across the technological higher education sector.”
Her colleague and fellow SURE Network member, Dr Anne Marie O’Brien, who is also a lecturer in the Department of Life and Physical Sciences, added: “SURE affords aspiring young academics the opportunity to showcase their talent, not only to academia and industry, but to the wider community.”
Established in 2017, the SURE Network forms a community of institutions and academics interested in enhancing practice in undergraduate research in the sciences. It is disciplinary in nature and aligned to the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. The Network is led by Ciarán O’Leary, Head of Learning Development in the College of Sciences and Health, TU Dublin.
Its inaugural conference, which was co-ordinated by Dr Montgomery and Dr O’Brien on behalf of Athlone Institute of Technology, was simultaneously held across three SURE Network sites - Athlone Institute of Technology, TU Dublin and Waterford Institute of Technology – last September and attended by more than 500 undergraduate students and academic staff.
Commenting on the award, Dr Don Faller, Dean of Faculty of Science and Health at Athlone Institute of Technology, said: “The SURE Network is instrumental in bringing the incredible undergraduate research taking place across the technological higher education landscape to the fore. This ground-breaking initiative is vital to the advancement of STEM research and the development of young academics who gain presenting experience in a supportive and encouraging environment.
The 2019 SURE Network conference is scheduled to take place next September across three SURE Network sites - IT Sligo, IT Carlow and TU Dublin (Tallaght campus). Following on from the success of this year’s conference, it is sure to be an important date in the undergraduate student calendar. For more information, please visit the SURE Network website.
Characterised by a commitment to academic excellence, Athlone Institute of Technology is Ireland’s leading higher education institute and an institute of firsts –first for research across the technological higher education landscape and first for ISSE student satisfaction nationally. Winner of the Sunday Times Institute of Technology of the Year 2018 and Runner up in 2017.