Following the unprecedented success of the Galway Science and Technoloogy Festival, where over 20,000 attended the festival exhibition held at NUI Galway, the festival committee are now considering expanding the exhibition to a two-day event.
The exhibition, which was held in the Bailey Allen Hall, was the grand finale to a remarkable two weeks in which thousands of students from schools all over County Galway took part in special events all aimed at increasing the uptake of science, maths, and engineering subjects by students.
In addition, in one of the very successful initiatives in the festival, major companies such as Medtronic Inc and Thermo King sent mentors out to schools around the county to explain to students the opportunities created by studies in areas such as science and engineering.
President of NUI, Galway Dr James Browne said this week that NUI Galway was delighted to be associated with the continuing success and development of Galway Science and Technology Festival.
“As a university, we are aware of the importance of scientific research and technological innovation. Hosting the festival exhibition at the Bailey Allen Hall is an opportunity for us to welcome students and their families to our campus and to highlight for them the boundless possibilities and the sheer fun of science.”
The main industrial sponsors of the festival are Medtronic Inc and this week Gerry Kilcommins, vice president global operations and general manager Galway site Medtronic, welcomed the proposed further development of the event.
Mr Kilcommins said: “Harnessing the power of science and technology and engaging our young people in this area is pivotal to realising Ireland's knowledge economy strategy.
“Over the past number of years, the Galway Science and Technology Festival has played a vital role in nurturing scientific awareness in our youth and the 2010 event was the most successful to date. Continuing to build on this success, I'm delighted that the plans for the 2011 festival are well under way."
The festival founding patron, Noel Treacy TD, said he was delighted that the committee of the Galway Science and Technology Festival were considering extending the festival exhibition in 2011. Some years ago, the festival board had decided to extend the festival events to two weeks and it had gone from strength to strength.
Mr Treacy said the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who opened the exhibition, was highly impressed by the stands and especially at the sophistication of the school stands and the enthusiasm of the students who manned them.
“I am confident that the festival will continue to impact on all of our students – primary, secondary and third level – and assist in creating the environment for the education of the necessary graduates to ensure that our economy will produce the hi-tech exports which are vital to our future sustainability,” added Mr Treacy.
The festival racked-up remarkable statistics that broke all records for its 13-year history. A series of shows in schools by Armagh Planetarium had 1,500 in total attendances; the Sue McGrath Science Magic Show attracted 2,000 students; the Weather Show – Rocket Workshop attracted 1,000 students in the schools; while the Galileo Greatest Mistake and the Cosmic Explorer shows had over 4,200 in total attendances.
On the concluding day of the two-week event well over 20,000 students and parents visited the one-day festival exhibition in the Bailey Allen Hall and viewed 60 stands. The tickets had been sent out to 300 schools and some of the major participants included local companies such as Medtronic Inc, Boston Scientific, SAP, CISCO, and Avaya.
In their review of the festival, the committee said that, while they welcomed the enormous success of the event, they deeply regretted that late on the afternoon of the exhibition, a number of people had to be turned away because of the unprecedented attendance. Festival chairman Tom Hyland said that not everyone who arrived on the day could get access, due to the extraordinary numbers and the absolute need to comply with health and safety regulations. He said the committee very much regretted that not everyone could be admitted and that some people were disappointed. Mr Hyland said that the festival had been an extraordinary success which would not have been possible without the work of teachers and pupils alike and the commitment by NUI Galway and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.
For more information and to see highlights of the festival log onto www.galwayscience.ie