Impact & Opinions | Tionchar & Tuairimí

Our Future: The College of Science and Engineering 

Our Future: The College of Science and Engineering 

15 December 22
 | 10 MINS

As part of our focus on University of Galway College of Science & Engineering, Executive Dean Walter Gear discusses the exciting plans afoot for the college. 

The last year or so have been very exciting times in the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at University of Galway. Quite apart from the excitement of welcoming students and staff back on campus post-pandemic and then dealing with the cyberattack, in this period, the merged college finally became an operational reality.

For those alumni who may not have been following closely, the former old Colleges of Science and of Engineering and informatics are now merged into the CSE with five schools, designed to release and empower schools to harness the synergistic and transdisciplinary opportunities in both research and education that the closer interaction across them offers. We have seen that energy emerging particularly in the two new schools with new subject groupings emerging and exciting discussions around possible new programmes and research collaborations. The incredible innovations in teaching delivery during the pandemic have also transformed the educational environment and spurred many staff on to think even more creatively.    

There has been significant changes in school leadership across the college, with four new Heads of School. It has been great to witness the enthusiasm with which the new Heads have taken to working with the staff and creating the school internal structures, as well as recruiting new staff, across academic, technical and professional support groups to help us deliver on and improve the student experience and research in the college. Computer Science is also a relatively new school and is continuing to grow and develop very successfully including very recently moving into the top 200 in the world in the THES subject rankings, which is a fantastic achievement.  


Our Future: The College of Science and Engineering 
Walter Gear, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and Ann Ryan at the College of Science and Engineering Strategy Launch in June

I am also very proud to say that following an extensive consultation process cross the college we launched our first College Strategy, at one of the first post-covid in-person events on campus, and introduced by Dr Maire Geoghan-Quinn, chair of University Governing Authority and former EU Commissioner for Science. The Strategy is an ambitious one centred on empowering our staff and students to develop their full potential and contribute to the public good, with every action aligned to one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); growing the diversity of our staff and students, and creating a new research institute in Advanced therapeutics discovery and medical technology. Research across the college will continue to encompass a range from blue-sky discovery to applied, always focused on excellence and on our areas of strength. The innovation strengths of the college are continuing to grow with new spin-out companies and the world-leading BioInnovate programme training innovators and entrepreneurs. Our education offerings will also focus on excellence, ensuring our graduates have the skills for problem-solving wherever they find themselves.  


“The College of Science and Engineering is in a hugely strong position to step forward in the coming years to deliver on our promise to be the place where discovery and creativity collide to catalyse innovation and drive transformational change for the public good, locally, national and globally.” 

Work has been ongoing to both improve the current buildings and infrastructure within the college and to plan for new build. A lot of progress has been made this year in planning the upgrading of some of our currently very dated laboratories, and focusing on what a new science building might contain. There has also been a lot of effort on sustainability with the large ground source heat pump being installed outside the Alice Perry engineering building. Once operational, this will provide enough energy to heat the swimming pool in the Kingfisher and is a trial for possible future community-based power generation systems. We are also rolling out Green lab accreditation for all our laboratories 


Finally, I want to return to the core powerhouse of the College – its people. It has been a very successful year in terms of academic promotions, with improved gender ratios in the higher grades. At a recent national ceremony, it was a very proud moment to see our School of Engineering receive the Athena Swan sSilver Award, the first in the Republic of Ireland to do so. This joins our four Athena Swan Bronze awards and is a major step in our goal of achieving two silver awards by 2025. We have ambitious plans to bring in more international students through new partnerships. Galway is the most diverse city in Ireland and the College and University are a significant contributor and reflection of that in our welcoming and supportive environment. We have been rolling out active bystander training very successfully, and launched the “It starts with a name” campaign to raise awareness of being sensitive to people’s name pronunciation as a cornerstone of a respectful interactive working environment. We also launched the first of our video series on diversity with the story of how Prof Afshin Samali came to Ireland as a refugee from religious persecution and moved forward to becoming an influential researcher on cancer and an established Professor here in Galway.

All of this means that the College of Science and Engineering is in a hugely strong position to step forward in the coming years to deliver on our promise to be the place where discovery and creativity collide to catalyse innovation and drive transformational change for the public good, locally, national and globally. We hope that you, our alumni, will join us on our journey and, where possible, contribute to making your Alma Mater the best it can possibly be.  


Professor Walter K. Gear

Executive Dean College of Science and Engineering


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