Eilish McLoughlin and Deirdre Butler receive DCU Presidents Awards for Engagement 2022

CASTeL PIs Eilish McLoughlin and Deirdre Butler from School of Physical Sciences & School of STEM Education, Innovation & Global Studies received the 2022 President’s Awards for Engagement Special Merit Award (Staff Category) for their leadership of the STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) Programme.

The 2022 President’s Awards for Engagement were presented on Wednesday, April 27th by DCU  President Professor Daire Keogh. Speaking at the event, Professor Keogh praised the winners’ achievements and commended all those nominated and shortlisted in the process.

“Innovation and Engagement are two core elements of DCU’s distinctive DNA, and these awards are a great celebration of all that has been achieved in these areas over the past twelve months. The shortlist and award winners demonstrate the inventiveness and positive impact  of DCU staff and students, in spite of the many challenges posed by COVID.” 

The STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) Programme provides pre-service teachers with the unique opportunity to complete paid internships in a STEM role in Industry. Teachers complete 12-week summer internships and gain hands-on experiences of a wide range of careers and opportunities available within STEM industries. This enables future primary and post-primary teachers to inspire  generations of their own students to develop the STEM competences needed to thrive and shape our rapidly changing world, in a globally-connected society.

The STInt programme was launched in 2016 together with Accenture and the 30% Club Ireland to provide paid internships for DCU pre-service teachers. Through the support of the 30% Club Ireland, Connecting Women in Technology  and Science Foundation Ireland the programme has significantly increased its engagement with industrial organisations. To date, the programme has engaged with 40 leading organisations to provide 180 pre-service primary and post-primary teachers with paid STEM internships roles in industry.  The programme adapted to the COVID-19 closures by providing 61 remote internships in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, the programme will provide 60 roles across 30 industry organisations through a mix of remote-working, hybrid and on-site internships.

Eilish and Deirdre have led the national expansion of this programme to include the participation of pre-service primary and post-primary teachers from across six Irish universities in 2022. This one-of-a-kind programme has impacted pre-service teachers’ understanding of integrated STEM education; supported teachers in designing learning opportunities based on real-world contexts; and strengthened education-industry partnership  in STEM Education in Ireland.