University of Limerick’s EPI•STEM Centre marks 40 years of engineering and technology education


Left to right: Peader Henehan, Founding member of the ETTA, Billy Higgins ETTA Chair, Donal Canty, Deputy Head of School of Education, UL, and Mark O'Dea, Local Area ETTA Chair

University of Limerick’s EPI•STEM National Centre for STEM Education were delighted to host members of the Engineering Technology Teachers Association (ETTA) on campus to attend a 40th Anniversary celebration of the founding of their organisation.

The ETTA held its inaugural meeting at University of Limerick 40 years ago and was welcomed back to mark the occasion by the Director of EPI•STEM, Professor Geraldine Mooney Simmie.

Engineering and technology teacher education commenced in Thomond College of Education in the early 1980s, and this location became a focal point in the formation of the ETTA. Thomond College of Education integrated with the University of Limerick in 1991, where this Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programme continues to be delivered today.

Teachers of engineering, technology and design, and communication graphics from across the Limerick, Clare and Kerry region gathered to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the association that has supported teachers and student teachers in schools for decades.

Each generation of teachers that graduated from the engineering and technology ITE programmes at UL, and previously from Thomond College of Education, Regional Technical College Galway, and DIT Bolton Street, have benefited from the support of the ETTA in developing subject content knowledge, engaging in collaborative practices and in guiding the development of subject curricula. As technology evolved over the 40 years, the expertise, skills and knowledge shared among the members has developed in kind.

The event was hosted by University of Limerick through EPI•STEM and reflects the inherent connection between the two organisations. Professor Mooney Simmie in her message said, “I am delighted to host this 40th Anniversary of the ETTA teachers. I look forward to future collaborations that will support experienced and new teachers to build university partnerships with schools who support UL in delivering ITE in engineering and technology through inclusive teaching, reflective practices and research-informed activities”.

In his address to the gathering, Dr Donal Canty, Deputy Head of UL’s School of Education highlighted the importance of forging and maintaining strong links between schools and ITE providers. “It is vital that research and practice evolve together with the common goal of creating exciting and innovative opportunities and experiences for young learners in our classrooms”, he said.

The ETTA chair, Mr Billy Higgins, praised the association's proud history and 40 years of representation of engineering and technology teachers at national and international level, holding an annual conference and the recognition of excellence in students work through the awarding of the prestigious Young Engineer awards.

Peadar Henehan, one of the founding members of the ETTA Committee described the origins and impact of the association. “The organisation was born out of the need for teachers to share practice and support subject development in a time when communication wasn’t as easy as it is today. This support was a crucial lifeline for teachers through times of curricular development and technological change. There is no doubt that the organisation has had a positive impact on classroom practice and has provided support for teachers in times of exponential curriculum and technological change.”

University of Limerick and EPI•STEM National Centre for STEM Education would like to take this opportunity to wish the organisation well in their future endeavours and look forward to future collaborations to help enhance the classroom experience for both learners and teachers.