Lero – the Irish Software SFI Research Centre and the University of Limerick (UL) have announced a new programme which will allow employees study for the equivalent of a PhD without having to give up their jobs.  The initiative, which is a first for the software industry in Ireland, aims to have up to 80 people studying for a professional doctorate over the next four years.

The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) in software and enterprise excellence, which is designed to facilitate people working in software across all industry sectors, was formally launched by John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation.

“We have long held that Foreign Direct Investment is attracted to Ireland for reasons other than low taxation which include a skilled workforce. This initiative is a boost to the infrastructure that is available to foreign as well as domestic knowledge based organisations,” said Minister Halligan.

Professor Brian Fitzgerald, director, Lero, John Halligan T.D., Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation and Dr Ann Ledwith, director of continuing and professional education at UL. Photo Oisin McHugh Ture Media

Seven organisations, including three indigenous, have signed up for the initial four year course which commences in January 2017.  Those participating in the first course include: Analog Devices Inc., Emutex, Johnson & Johnson, Limerick County Council, Teleflex and Xpertivity.

“We have global industry leaders from pharma to IT operating at the cutting-edge based in Ireland. They stay competitive by ensuring that their employees are highly skilled and educated,” commented Professor Brian Fitzgerald, Director, Lero which is supported by Science Foundation Ireland.  “The new Professional Doctorate facilitates a doctoral degree by addressing challenging problems and contributing to companies as well as Irish industry.”

“The initiative will boost research collaboration between industry and academia,” added Dr Ann Ledwith, director of continuing and professional education at UL. “Many countries are now moving towards the professional doctorate route, notably in Scandinavia. This reflects the growing desire for upskilling and life long learning in the modern workplace.”

Brian O’Mara, Applications Director, Vehicle Electrification, of Analog Devices, which is one of the first participants in the programme said, “This is a highly practical application of research which will help us solve real life industry issues in our company and sector while boosting personal development. It will allow our firm also to draw on the research expertise of Lero.”

Commenting on the announcement of the new PhD programme, Dr Darrin Morrissey, Director of Programmes, Science Foundation Ireland said, “Science Foundation Ireland has long supported the link between industry and academia and this new programme is a great example of how such collaborations can bolster Ireland’s knowledge economy. Forging academic links with participating companies also ensures our future doctorate graduates can tailor their education to meet the demands of the emerging market.”

The course was developed over the last 12 months in consultation with a number of industry bodies including Engineers’ Ireland combined with an investigation of best practice internationally in the UK, Scandinavia, Europe and the US.

Further details at: http://www.ul.ie/pdeng/