Students look past recession towards hi-tech horizons

The recession may have cast a cloud over the country, but it’s proving to have a silver lining for the hi-tech sector in terms of attracting more and better students.

According to the Cork Electronics Industry Association, there has been a substantial shift in emphasis for second-level students, who are recognising the career opportunities.

“Student interest is increasing year on year as it becomes evident that graduates in this area are in demand,” said Deirdre de Bhailís, CEIA spokesperson. She said up to 20,000 are employed in the computer sector in Cork.

“During the boom, the main interest was in civil engineering. Now, it is the high-tech industries that are attracting interest.

“In fact, industry and academia are vying for students and the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in UCC is struggling to find research students as microelectronics companies such as Xilinx and Cypress attract many of their graduates. It certainly is an attractive position for graduates to be in.”

Ms de Bhailís made her comments at the Tyndall research centre in Cork, where details of High Tech Elec 2012 were unveiled.

A total of 42 transition-year students from 16 schools have been selected for the programme, which will give them an insight into the industry through placements at companies such as EMC, Moog, Flextronics, S3 Group, Firecomms, On Semi, Horner APG, and Alps Electric.

Tyndall spokesperson Julie Dorel said students are introduced to a whole new world at the institute.

“We have found that, upon arrival at the start of their week, the students are in typical Monday-morning mood, but by Friday they are buzzing, said Ms Dorel.

“Careers in the high-tech industries are invisible to students, but they are blown away by the excitement of what happens at the Tyndall, for example. But this only forms part of what is a comprehensive overview, with days also spent at UCC/CIT,” she said.

Among the High Tech Elec pioneers from 2010 is Leaving Certificate student Eoin Hayes, who is hoping his interest in electronics and music will see him strike a chord in terms of a career.

“They showed us in Tyndall how to make a circuit for a burglary alarm and it was really cool to see how you could manipulate electricity,” said Eoin, a student of Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh, who was also impressed with his time at cloud computing company EMC.

“I have been looking at music and technology, making electronic instruments, better speakers etc.

“I am in a band, Creative Tension, and am trying to combine my interest in music and electronics.

“The school of music in Cork has a masters in music and technology, and there is a similar course in Limerick. London is another option.

“I’ve looked into making equipment for guitars and did the wiring for my own guitar, but it needs a bit of refinement,” he joked.

High Tech Elec runs on Mar 26 to 30 and Apr 16 to 20 — culminating in a Dragons’ Den-style event.


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