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Welcoming our New Class of Convene Enterprise Fellows 

The Convene Enterprise Fellowship programme is a unique and exciting opportunity for staff at TU Dublin. Seconded from their regular roles, Fellows are given the time, space, and resources to work on a wide range of projects aligned with TU Dublin’s strategic plan, and building on existing strengths across the university to support Convene’s mission to transform university-enterprise engagement for the benefit of Irish society and the economy. This semester we welcomed our second class of Enterprise Fellows: Sylvia Healy, Seán McHugh, Deirdre Kennedy, and Ciara Walsh. 

Meet the Convene Enterprise Fellows

Sylvia Healy
Lecturer, Department of Science, TU Dublin Tallaght Campus
 | LinkedIn

Sylvia has lectured in microbiology in TU Dublin’s Tallaght campus for 17 years and is the lead investigator for a postgraduate research project on probiotics. Prior to her academic career, Sylvia worked in the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector for almost a decade. In addition to her current role as a Convene Enterprise Fellow, she is also undertaking a Doctorate in Education in which she is researching the role of public health education in infectious disease mitigation. 

My Fellowship Idea: A Cross-Disciplinary Programme for People with Intellectual Disabilities

According to the Health Research Board (2020), there are nearly 23,000 people in Ireland with an intellectual disability, yet people with intellectual disability are among the most marginalised in our society. Although there is an increasing number of children with intellectual disability attending mainstream primary and secondary schools, there are limited meaningful post-secondary opportunities for this cohort of students. Sylvia aims to address this deficit and help increase the provision of inclusive and quality education opportunities for those with an intellectual disability as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4: to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

The proposed programme aims to provide a cross-disciplinary suite of modules designed around the students and their strengths. An important part of the programme will be the personal development of the students, helping them to become more independent and to experience the other social and non-academic skills that a third level education has to offer. Another important feature of the programme is the provision of the means to transition to meaningful and gainful employment. Apart from the enormous benefits for students, graduates, their families and the wider community, there is also a tangible benefit for Enterprise in supporting such programmes and their students. It is increasingly recognised that widening diversity in the workplace can benefit businesses by helping them understand their customers better, transform morale, attract and retain talent and clients and positively impact the brand, i.e. widening diversity is not only good from the social justice point of view, it also adds value and leads to better business overall. It is hoped to source sustainable funding for the programme through enterprise partners interested in EDI and social responsibility.

Seán McHugh
Lecturer, Computing, TU Dublin Tallaght Campus
| LinkedIn

Seán has been a lecturer in the Department of Computing at TU Dublin’s Tallaght Campus for more than 20 years. He has taught across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, particularly in the areas of database technologies and machine learning. Seán has a special interest in industry engagement and has pioneered the development of internship programmes for both the undergraduate and postgraduate Computing programmes.

My Fellowship Idea: The On-Campus Internship – An Innovative, Flexible, Inclusive Pathway to Traditional Work Placements

The Department of Computing at TU Dublin’s Tallaght campus represents a diverse group of students from different socio-economic backgrounds, under-represented groups, and students with physical disabilities as well as neurodiversity, for whom traditional internships are not always accessible. Seán’s fellowship project aims to be an innovative, flexible, inclusive pathway to traditional work placements. Working to improve the connection between graduates and enterprise, who have a need for talented, industry-ready graduates, the On-Campus Internship will be co-created with the advice and insights of industry leaders and partners. It will provide students with the key knowledge and competencies to successfully access the workforce and relevant career opportunities when they graduate.

Sean's fellowship project aligns closely with Convene's Sustainable Innovators for Enterprise (SIE) model which embeds enterprise challenges into on-campus programmes offering a light-touch, low-cost test bed for innovation. Sean will be working closely with the SIE team on the development of his fellowship project and sharing learnings along the way.

Deirdre Kennedy
Lecturer, School of Media, TU Dublin Tallaght Campus

Deirdre.Kennedy@TUDublin.ie | LinkedIn

Deirdre is a lecturer/practitioner, with a background in multimedia practice, environmental activism and community arts. Informed by 21 years’ lecturing and practice in Tallaght and by prior experience working in Wet Paint Arts, coordinating projects such as the Tribal Project, the Big Bang and Inside Out, Deirdre is currently undertaking research investigating socially engaged creative practice in a higher education and community settings. A co-founder of Future Makers Collective, her collaborations with local, national and international partners have always enriched her teaching and practice. 

My Fellowship Idea: Increasing Student Engagement through Socially Engaged Practice in the Creative, Cultural and Social Enterprise Sectors

Deirdre’s fellowship project is informed by her multimedia and community arts background, and her fundamental belief that students and graduates have a great deal to contribute to the ongoing formation of a new educational model in the technological university sector and most importantly, to TU Dublin’s strategic vision of ‘creating a better world together’, though the pillars of people, planet and partnership. Through her fellowship, Deirdre aims to build on the strong examples of practice-based projects she has already established with both national and international partners in three key areas: the engaged curriculum; engaged research; and socially engaged practice. 

Two projects have been identified as case studies: a collaboration with the Irish Museum of Modern Art called “An Uncommon Practice” and the trans-disciplinary "Nuada Project" with engineering colleagues and 3D Assist, a registered charity based in TU Dublin. Deirdre’s fellowship plan is for these collaborations to become embedded in the university’s practice in a research-informed and reflective way which would add value for all partners involved. 

The fellowship also plans to complete the establishment phase of the Future Makers Collective, a networking group of students, educators, researchers, industry experts, creative professionals and cultural and professional institutions coming together to explore and support socially engaged creative practice in the field of media, arts and emerging technologies.

Ciara Walsh
Lecturer, School of Food Science & Environmental Health, City Campus
 | LinkedIn

Ciara has lectured in the School of Food Science & Environmental Health for over seven years in food regulatory affairs, food safety, and microbiology. She is currently the work placement coordinator on the BSc in Culinary Sc. and Food Innovation for both the food, and brewing and distilling streams. Prior to this, Ciara worked in regulation and policy in the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) for seven years, and frequently participated in working groups in the European Commission and OECD. Her primary degree is in Food Sc. (hons) from UCC and she completed her PhD in Food Microbiology from UU, Jordanstown. Ciara is also a previous UCD Newman Scholar and worked as a postdoctoral research scientist in molecular biology for three years; including a secondment to the USDA in California. 

My Fellowship Idea: Stackable Postgraduate Programmes in Brewing and Distilling 

The Irish Drinks Industry contributes over €2.6 bn to the Irish Economy and employs  ∼92,000 individuals. There has been significant growth in the drinks sector in recent years, in particular with regard to alcohol exports (sold on 140 markets world-wide).  In more specific terms, there were 93 breweries and 45 distilleries reported nationally in 2018, compared to 15 breweries and 4 distilleries a decade previous (2008). Despite this rapid growth, there are currently no taught postgraduate qualifications from higher level educational institutes available nationally in brewing and distilling – with interested employees travelling abroad for training.  

TU Dublin has well established links with the drinks industry, and Ciara’s fellowship will focus on the co-creation of industry-focused postgraduate programmes, through engagement with stakeholders. Notably, it will focus on the provision of stackable programmes which are flexible and accessible, and deliver modules identified by the drinks sector as important for upskilling, reskilling, and even business start-up. Moreover, Ciara’s fellowship will seek to identify knowledge gaps, skills deficiencies, and sector specific challenges and opportunities; to ensure the new programmes are comprehensive and all-encompassing. This will be done through the circulation of surveys, industry interviews, attendance at industry events, and engagement meetings. 

If you’re interested in engaging with our Fellows and their projects, please reach out to them directly via email or LinkedIn. 

Follow Convene on LinkedIn or Twitter for updates on the Fellow’s projects.