Drone racing, hydrogen cars, mechanical art, 2D game programming and 3D printing, were just some of the entertaining workshops at the Northwest’s first-ever Engineering Fair on Sunday.  The one-day event at IT Sligo was supported by healthcare leader Abbott and Science Foundation Ireland and attracted over 2,000 people from across the region.

The Fair was packed with talks, demonstrations and activities for all age groups, keeping families entertained over the damp weekend. Visitors to the Fair were welcomed by “Robot Ted,” an eight-foot-tall singing and dancing robot, who was joined by a flash mob of robotic dancers from Victoria Walker Dances.  In another flashback to the eighties, the iconic DeLorean car made famous by “Back to the Future” landed at IT Sligo thanks to Ward Automation.

Younger visitors were entertained through many workshops on the day and learned to create ice-cream without using a freezer and how to run a car on hydrogen.

The Engineering Fair is one of many STEM activities organised by IT Sligo with Abbott and Science Foundation Ireland to inspire young people to become engineers of the future.

Engineering companies across Ireland are struggling to fill the many opportunities available due to a shortage in graduate engineers.  It is hoped by igniting a spark of interest in engineering at a younger age, this will encourage the next generation to take up a career in engineering.

Speaking at the event, Conor Murphy, site director of Abbott’s diagnostics business in Sligo, said, “Engineering is critically important for our work to create breakthrough inventions that tackle some of healthcare’s greatest challenges. By showcasing the many real-world applications of engineering in a fun and engaging way, we hope to inspire a passion in young people to become tomorrow’s engineering leaders.” Although this was a fun family-friendly event, IT Sligo lecturer and project lead Dr Marion McAfee said there was a serious side to holding an Engineering Fair:

“It is fantastic to hear the positive news now about engineering companies in the region expanding but we really need to ensure we have a good supply of engineering talent.  Engineering is such an interesting, diverse and rewarding career and we want to inspire the next generation through events like this. This is a very exciting time to be an engineer and to make a real difference in tackling challenges like clean energy, reducing waste or designing the next generation of medical devices.  Students graduating in Engineering have multiple job opportunities in Ireland and their qualification can take them anywhere around the world.”

I-Form, the SFI research centre for advanced manufacturing demonstrated the future of 3D printing.  Advanced manufacturing is changing how things from implants to shoes are made and how this will lead to the next industrial revolution.

The engineering theme continues at IT Sligo throughout the coming week with an emphasis on encouraging more women to consider a career as an engineer through a special talk on International Women’s Day, Friday 8th of March from 10 am – 11.30 am at IT Sligo.

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