Naughton Scholars Awards
Tercentenary Hall, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute
29th September 2018
Minister, Naughton family, Naughton Scholars, Ladies and Gentlemen,
And welcome to the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute for this great occasion: the presentation of awards to the Naughton Scholars 2018.
Today we recognise the ambition and talent of students in science, technology, engineering and maths – the STEM subjects. We celebrate the increased focus, across the country, on these disciplines, which are so important to innovation and to creating a thriving Irish economy. And we celebrate the Naughton family’s great contribution to education and research, and to making a difference to the lives of individuals, and to make a difference to growth and competitiveness in our country.
The award of a Naughton Scholarship is a great achievement for student personally; it’s also a great achievement for their parents and schools who have nurtured such ability. And it’s great for the whole country to be incubating such talent.
In just a few years these students will be in a position to contribute to society through research, employment.
* * *
The Naughton scholarships were established over a decade ago and they continue to serve the purpose for which they were devised. From the start, they were a creative solution to a dual challenge.
In the first place, there’s the challenge of insufficient numbers of applicants coming forward to study or work in the STEM subjects.
This was an issue in 2008. It’s still an issue in 2018 because Ireland now has a strong and growing innovation ecosystem, with a good mix of multinationals and indigenous start-ups. But for this to really take off, we need an increase in STEM graduates who can seize and create opportunities.
The second challenge that these Scholarships address is the cost of studying at third level. In 2008 when the Naughton scholarships were founded, costs were high. Today they are higher still. Housing costs are a particular issue.
The solution the Naughton family came up for these dual challenges was to provide scholarships for exceptional students to study science, engineering, mathematics or computer science at the Irish third-level institution of their choice.
* * *
The Naughton scholarships are a community initiative in the best sense –they affect not only the lives of individual students but all those who helped them achieve their success: parents and guardians, teachers, schools, neighbourhoods, regions.
The Naughton Foundation presents the students’ schools with a prize of €1,000 towards the school’s science facilities. More than 160 schools have benefited from this to date, with some schools being awarded more than once.
And I understand that this year sees the Naughton Foundation invest further in STEM classes for Primary Schools, with an initiative called ‘Science in a Box’.
This support for schools shows the depth and reach of the programme, and how securely it is now embedded in communities around the country.
* * *
The whole Naughton family is involved in the scholarship programme. We are delighted to see them here today. That this is a family initiative gives special heart and value to these scholarships.
Speaking of the Naughtons’ support for STEM education and research in Ireland, I must just mention their remarkable support for a ground-breaking initiative here in Trinity which we announced this year.
The Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies E3 Institute, will bring together engineers, natural scientists and computer scientists to address major challenges facing our planet including climate change, renewable energy, personalised data and sustainable manufacturing.
E3 has been made possible thanks to the remarkable donation of €25 million from the Naughton family, together with €15 million from the state.
E3 will be a gamechanger in terms of how we educate and research in STEM disciplines. It will be developed in two stages. In the first place, the E3 Learning Foundry will be built on campus, creating 1,800 new places for students in the STEM disciplines with a new approach to STEM education – which will be transformative in terms of content, with more focus on the challenges of sustaining the earth’s resources, and in terms of methods and teaching techniques.
With E3, students will develop transversal skills through working on multidisciplinary projects in collaborative, student-managed, learning spaces.
E3 will be transformative for Dublin and Ireland, helping to make this country a leader in innovation, particularly around the sustainability challenges which are so vital for the wellbeing of the planet.
I hope that Naughton students who are now entering their undergraduate years will, in time, engage with E3, perhaps as PhD or post-docs.
E3, like the scholarships, is an exemplar of the Naughton family’s commitment to Ireland, to making this country a hub of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Ireland needs ambitious people who are prepared to push themselves and go the extra mile. Ambitious people need to be incentivised and given opportunities. This is what the scholarships do, and what E3 will do.
I congratulate our new 2018 Naughton scholars. You have been singled out to receive these scholarships as reward for your excellence and ambition. You are now getting the best possible start to university life. You will of course have a dream for your career and your life. Having been given such a start, it’s now your responsibility to hold on to that dream and pursue it tenaciously.
We will help you all we can.
In your turn, during what I hope will be long and successful careers, I can wish you nothing better than that you, like the Naughtons, will help others.
* * *
(1) Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D.