STEM learning at primary schools must be aided by industry, according to EMC Ireland, the IT multinational that employs 3,000 people in the country.

Speaking ahead of the EMC VEX IQ robotics competition final, Martin O’Flaherty, Principal Program Manager at EMC, said that primary-level education in STEM subjects not only needs continued, dedicated investment, but the complementary expertise and resources of industry leaders with practical knowledge of the world of work.

“Young children are naturally inquisitive and open to new ideas. Sparking an interest in STEM subjects, which form the basis of today’s global digital economy, is important in ensuring the next generation of graduates keep Ireland competitive on the world stage,” said Mr O’Flaherty, EMC’s VEX program lead.

EMC sponsors VEX IQ, a primary-level robotics competition that sets pupils the task of designing and building robots that are remote controlled or programmed to perform certain tasks. EMC partnered with Lifetime Lab and Cork Institute of Technology to deliver the program, which has seen over 800 primary and post-primary pupils participate since 2012.

“Industries that assist primary schools by sponsoring STEM schemes or donating time and resources are not only creating a more diverse learning environment, but investing in long-term solutions to future skills shortages.

“With VEX IQ, and the larger VEX initiative we help to run for secondary schools, we aim to drive interest in technology and engineering, and demonstrate to schoolchildren the myriad uses of the practical skills they acquire,” said Brian Sullivan, EMC Customer Service Manager.

The VEX IQ finals will take place on 6 February at the Cork Institute of Technology. Over 500 pupils from 18 schools are expected to attend.