The EMPOWER programme for post-primary students, designed and developed by Mary Immaculate College (MIC) and The Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), will take place across two weeks, one in Limerick and one in Tipperary, this year between 7 June and 17 June.
EMPOWER, funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), is designed to support young creative problem-solvers tackling local and global challenges. The theme of this year’s programme is Right Here Right Now. The focus is on the challenges we face right now and what we can do to deeply understand them and then work together to find innovative solutions for the future.
Now in its sixth year, the ever-popular programme for students across the region is growing from strength to strength. This year’s programme is back in person with the first week in Limerick at the TUS and MIC campuses and includes a field trip. The students will also receive mentoring from entrepreneurs and innovators who will support them throughout the week as they work to uncover challenges and develop solutions.
This year’s programme allows participants to experience, practice and reflect on a wide variety of innovative and creative activities. The students will adopt a Design Thinking (human-centric) approach to defining and tackling problems. They will explore and experience ways of problem seeing, brainstorming, generating new ideas and translating ideas into actions.
Each week will focus on different aspects of the theme. The first week in Limerick/Clare will focus on Right Here Right Now: Mobility. It is a fantastic opportunity for students as they will have an opportunity to spend the day at Jaguar Land Rover.
John Cormican, General Manager, Vehicle Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, R&D Software Engineering Centre, Shannon said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming participants to our R&D Software Engineering Centre in Shannon. Our team in Shannon are excited to be involved in hosting this event on-site and discussing perspectives on the Future of Mobility with the students.”
Tipperary is nearing the end of its work around the Tipperary County Development Plan 2022 to 2028. For the second week, which takes place in Thurles, the students will focus on the community through the lens of its youth. The students will focus on the real-time lived experience of their community and uncover the challenges and opportunities that exist. The students will also have an exciting field trip to an organisation in Tipperary that week, currently under wraps!
Dr Maeve Liston, Director of Enterprise and Community Engagement at Mary Immaculate College, commented that: “The aim of the Empower Programme was to design an approach that moves beyond traditional science and business programmes, to an approach that involves the development of ‘mindsets’ that enable and empower students to approach problems, to experiment, and to meet the needs of those that will benefit from their solutions."
Gillian Barry, Head of Innovation and Enterprise at the new Technological University of the Shannon (TUS), said: “Most startups fail because their innovations do not meet a customer and market need. We believe that the quality of the solution you generate is directly proportional to your ability to identify the problem you hope to solve. This is key to impactful innovation and is a core focus during the week.”
She added: “It is fantastic, each year, to see the students, who for the most part do not know each other beforehand, forming into teams and bonding throughout the week. Many of them plan to continue working on their ideas and use the skills and insights they have developed to further BT Young Scientist projects, for example. The week provides them with an opportunity to develop complex thinking skills. Their enquiring minds and ability to question the norm is always inspiring. We encourage students in the region to engage again this year for what is always a fun, inspirational week.”
Registration is now open - click here for further details.