Sustainable Ireland – Irelands Environmental, Waste Management and Energy Magazine

InnoTech feature in Sustainable Ireland - Irelands Environmental, Waste Management and Energy Magazine New “InnoTech Centre”at South West College: South West College’s Cookstown Campus now boasts a state-of-the-art Innovation and Technology Centre that provides local industry with valuable support in the areas of research and development, innovation, product design and training. The new centre also helps the college increase its presence on an international level. The work of the InnoTech Centre covers three areas – Sustainability, Design, Electronics & ICT.

The South West College spans the combined counties of Fermanagh and Tyrone with campus locations at Dungannon, Omagh, Enniskillen and Cookstown. The College is an amalgamation of the former Fermanagh, East Tyrone and Omagh Colleges which were combined under the name of the South West College in 2007.
The InnoTech Centre is being lead by three research lecturers, Aaron Black, Jill Cush and Fergal Tuffy, with each having expertise in the specific technology strands of Sustainability, Electronics, Software & ICT and Design, respectively. Commenting on the targets of the Centre Aaron Black said “The aim of the Centre, the first of its kind here we believe, is to build on the areas which the South West College felt were most important both for local business and for curriculum development within the region”. Aaron continued “Through our work at the InnoTech Centre we aim to ensure that we can offer the necessary skills to support the Northern Ireland economy in product and service development.” To date the Centre has assisted in renewable energy projects, product design, materials testing and rapid prototyping.

Another aim of the project is to broaden the international reach of the College through the development of new collaborative partnerships with the Institutes of Technology in Ireland, International Colleges, Research Institutes and Industry. This is to be achieved through collaborative European projects, research and knowledge exchange activities.

The South West College already occupies a unique position as a driver for innovation and technology development in a range of specialist areas. These include sustainable development and renewable technologies, engineering, design, rapid prototyping, product testing and quarrying. The college holds a strong track record of working with and supporting local business. This has been achieved by delivering projects which bring innovative technological and management solutions to industrial problems as well as assisting in the uptake of modern product design and technology.

Within the InnoTech Centre, 15 new positions have been created working in three strands – Sustainability, Design, Electronics & ICT. A further 9 positions have been created through the placement of students into industry. These students are completing the placement aspects of their final year on the colleges relevant Foundation Degree courses in areas such as Rural Sustainability, Events Management, Construction engineering, Architectural Technology and Media.

As well as the industry support detailed above the InnoTech Centre is also looking to the future, with another new initiative promoting the priority skills subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) to young people. A new STEM Centre is being located at the South West College’s Dungannon campus. The new STEM centre aims to engage students in a way which relates their school curriculum to real world examples. “By creating a centre with examples of technology and design which students can interact with, we hope to enrich the curriculum in the STEM subject areas thus offering a resource for local primary and secondary schools to bring their students to.”

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