Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) has received capital investment towards a new STEM building, expected to cost in the region of €15 million.
The investment is part of a €257m nationwide spending increase, and marks an important step in AIT’s progress towards attaining Technological University status.
“This is a very significant day for our institute and indeed the wider midlands region,” said Professor Ciarán Ó Catháin, president of AIT. The new facility will have capacity for an additional 1,000 STEM students, enabling the institute to provide for increased demand for programmes in pharmaceuticals, biopharma, microbiology, sport and health science, and design, innovation, and technology.
The STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics ) sector has performed well in recent years, despite a fall-off in capital investment in Institutes of Technology.
Following last week’s budget, Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton TD (FG ) stated: “I have set the ambition to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe within a decade. State of the art facilities are key to realizing this ambition.”
The news has been welcomed by local politicians. Longford-Westmeath TD Kevin “Boxer” Moran (Ind ) said that he was “delighted” to hear the announcement, adding: “Athlone IT’s strategy has been to link successfully with industry at a local, regional and national level and I know today’s announcement will enhance this cooperation even further.”
“This is further great news for AIT, coming just a week after they were awarded Institute of Technology of the Year,” said Athlone based Senator, Gabrielle McFadden (FG ). “AIT has a strong tradition in the STEM subjects and this investment will make it even better.”
Dr Don Faller, dean of faculty of science and health, said that as the midlands region becomes one of Ireland’s pharmaceutical/biopharma hubs, AIT’s role in producing industry-ready scientists and technologists will be further enhanced with the availability of new STEM facilities.
While it is still unclear how long completion of the new facility will take, the announcement itself marks an important milestone in AIT’s progress towards becoming a Technological University.
No such universities currently exist in Ireland, and achieving TU status has long been an ambition of Athlone IT.
Senator Gabrielle McFadden has described the possible granting of this status as a “game changer.”