Putting student knowledge to work for communities

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Angela McLaughlin, DIT graduate of Tourism Marketing; Jim McAlister, Garda Road Safety Unit; Kaethe Burt O?Dea, founder of LifeLine Project; and Stephen Murphy, 5th year Architecture student

11th November 2010

As part of Innovation Dublin 2010, DIT has launched an exhibition of projects by participants in its ?Students Learning with Communities? programme.  The projects have been incorporated into the structure of many programmes in DIT, and students can gain credit for their work.   At the launch, President of DIT, Professor Brian Norton said ?Students gain enormously from the experience of using the theoretical knowledge they gain through their studies and applying it in the context of a real-world challenge.  Community-based learning and research now play an important part in many programmes in DIT, with more than 1000 students participating. I am delighted to launch this very innovative exhibition as part of Innovation Dublin programme of events.? 

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Bryan Corrigan, student of Electrical Engineering who worked with the Aisling Project in Ballymun

Professor Norton also presented DIT Community Fellowship Awards to five project partners in recognition of their contribution to their communities and to this highly innovative programme.  The recipients all have worked with the Students Learning with Communities Programme on specific projects relevant to their organisation or community, but in addition they have all been instrumental in helping to shape and develop the programme itself.  The recipients of these inaugural awards are:

  • Siobhán Long, Manager of National Assistive Technology Training Service in Enable Ireland, who has facilitated product design students working on product research and development in the area of assistive technology.
  • Sergeant Jim McAllister, Garda Road Safety, who has pioneered the ?College Awareness of Road Safety? project which has been running for three years in DIT
  • John and Mary Coyne, Founders of Wells for Zoe, an Irish and Malawi-based charity that is focused on community development through provision of clean water, childcare and farming projects in Malawi
  • Kaethe Burt O'Dea, founder of the Lifeline Project ? an innovative urban regeneration project in the Grangegorman area of Dublin 7
  • Michael Clear, Co-ordinator of the Aisling Project Shangan, Ballymun, who has facilitated DIT students of Control Systems and Electrical Engineering and students of drama, working on a project with the children from the project.

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Recipients of DIT Community Fellowship Awards, above, l to r: Jim McAllister, Garda Road Safety Unit; Micheál Clear, Aisling Project, Ballymun; below, l to r: Kaethe Burt O?Dea, founder of LifeLine Project; Siobhan Long, Enable Ireland; and Mary Coyne, Irish- and Malawi-based charity, ?Wells for Zoe?

Dr. Catherine Bates, programme co-ordinator, said she was delighted to celebrate the success of the programme during Innovation Dublin and Science Week and to showcase the collaborative nature of the work.  ?Since its inception, the SLWC programme has been building on the strong links that DIT has developed over the years with local community partners.  The programme has given a greater depth to those links by enabling students and communities to work in partnership.  These opportunities enhance the skills of our students and communities can benefit from the knowledge and ideas the students can bring, so the experience is mutually beneficial.?

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Pearl O?Rourke, graduate of Product Design and now a PhD student in the assistive technology area, co-supervised by DIT and Enable Ireland

At the presentation of the Fellowship awards, each of the recipients spoke about the value the students brought to their project, and students spoke about what they learnt.  In one example, Product Design graduate, Pearl O?Rourke, explained that following a visit to Enable Ireland where Siobhán Long explained how assistive technology can allow someone to achieve independent living, she and her fellow students completely changed their views on design.  Pearl is now doing her PhD in the area of assistive technology, jointly supervised by DIT and Enable Ireland, and funded by IRCSET.

The Students Learning With Communities showcase can be viewed in each of the main city-centre DIT campus locations ? Aungier Street, Kevin Street, Cathal Brugha Street, Mountjoy Square and Bolton Street ? during the Innovation Dublin Festival.    Details are available on the programme website at see http://www.communitylinks.ie/community-learning-programme

For more information on Students Learning With Communities please contact:

Dr. Catherine Bates ? tel 01 402 7616, email slwc@dit.ie  or Melda Slattery, DIT Public Affairs ? tel 01 402 7138 or 087 230 9221

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