Nov 30th, 2023
Photo caption: STInt programme representatives and partners at the Women in STEM awards at the Mansion House in October. See the end of this article for the full caption.
The STEM Teacher Internship (STInt) Programme is a globally unique, award-winning initiative founded by Dublin City University. The programme’s mission is to inspire innovative learning by facilitating collaborative STEM partnerships between universities, companies, and schoolteachers. Teachers are, unsurprisingly, the second biggest influence on students after parents. The real value of the programme is that it equips teachers with the knowledge of what it’s like to work in STEM in Ireland right now. This helps shape meaningful conversations with students and influences the next generation of STEM workers.
In partnership with DCU Educational Trust, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Intel, Skillnet Ireland supports the STInt programme which operates across seven universities to support the future STEM talent pipeline. Thanks to our deep roots with enterprise and industry, Skillnet Ireland’s support will facilitate the expansion of the STInt programme and help to foster additional STEM partnerships with industry and higher education, resulting in a lasting impact on the future workforce.
The impact of the STInt Programme
In a nutshell, the STInt programme supports pre-service and early career primary and post-primary teachers with paid internships in STEM roles across a variety of industries across Ireland. STInt involves seven universities which include Dublin City University, Maynooth University, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin, University of Galway, and University of Limerick. Together, they have supported over 240 STEM placements, with over 50 host companies across a range of sectors including technology, biopharma, medtech and professional services.
The potential impact of STInt is far-reaching when you consider that one post-primary teacher will have an average of 5000 students throughout their teaching career, and one primary level teacher will teach an average of 1000 pupils over their career. STInt also makes a significant contribution to encouraging increased female participation in STEM and inspiring interest in various STEM specialisms.
Deloitte is among the companies that hosted STInt interns this year. Senior manager Sinéad Coughlan spoke about the benefits of the programme, saying, “This programme opens up that relationship so the interns can understand what the world of technology looks like and hopefully give that insight and technology breadth to their students. We’re hoping this will lead to a more gender-balanced workforce in the future.”
Since its foundation in 2016, STInt has gone from strength to strength. This year, it was shortlisted for the Diversity and Inclusion Initiative of the Year award at the inaugural Women in STEM Awards. At these awards, STInt Programme Director, Dr Eilish McLoughlin, DCU, took home the Outstanding Achievement award for her work on STInt and other STEM initiatives. STInt has also been shortlisted for the 2023 Times Higher Education Awards in the category of Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year, taking place in December.
Its success is further evidenced by feedback from STInt participants. 92% of interns have said they feel very confident they could advise students on STEM careers after taking part. 88% were very confident they could design a STEM learning experience based on a real-world context, and 82% were very confident they could identify diverse STEM role models for their students.
Robyn Duggan, a recent science with education graduate from Maynooth University, gained a huge amount from his experience with STInt, saying, “My experience was amazing, I got to meet so many different people and interns. Through doing this internship, I have a breadth of knowledge of different types of careers in STEM. I can transfer that knowledge to students and help them decide what they want to do or even just let them know that the options are there for them.”
How businesses can get involved
Further industry support which will enable more teachers across the country to take part in a STEM internship and bring their experience and learning back to the classroom to inspire and support their future students. Angela Lally, the national programme manager for STInt based in DCU, encourages more companies to get involved, “Becoming a STInt host is a fantastic way for companies to connect with local schools and invest in their own future talent pipeline. The success of STInt is already evident in the many different sectors that have gathered behind this programme. They are committed to ensuring that our teachers, and in turn, our children and young people, have access to the knowledge and expertise needed to transform lives and societies well into the future.”
If your company is interested in becoming a STInt host or if you would like to learn more about the STInt programme, visit www.stemteacherinternships.ie to get in touch with the team.