21 new projects funded by the NUI Galway/NUI Galway Students’ Union EXPLORE innovation initiative were showcased on Thursday, 12 May 2016 in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway.
EXPLORE is a dynamic model for innovation delivery that has been piloted by NUI Galway and NUI Galway Students’ Union since early 2012.The first scheme of its kind in Irish higher education, EXPLORE facilitates NUI Galway students and staff to work as equal partners to trial new ideas. The EXPLORE process breaks down traditional hierarchies in higher education, and enables participants to work differently with each other.
To date, EXPLORE has seed funded over 100 new projects involving more than 600
NUI Galway students and staff, and off-campus partners. EXPLORE projects have gone on to secure prestigious external funding of over €290,000.
The EXPLORE projects showcased yesterday span a diverse range of themes, including health, schools outreach, creativity, local history, mediation, digital skills and much more.
Tingyi Koh and Paul Choi, undergraduate medical students at NUI Galway, from the Do-It-Yourself Laparoscopic Trainer EXPLORE project talked at the event about how they developed a surgery simulation tool on a budget to improve the technical skills of undergraduate medical students with an interest in surgery as a career.
Dr. Ray Butler from the NUI Galway Centre for Astronomy spoke about the Loss of the Night in Galway EXPLORE project, which aims to run Galway’s first light pollution/night sky quality measurement campaign, which may help Galway become Ireland’s first ‘dark sky city’, with improved lighting ordinances.
According to Prof. Chris Curtin, Vice President for Innovation and Performance, NUI Galway,“EXPLORE is an ideal vehicle for students and staff to pilot new ideas and establish a proof of concept in a collaborative, low-risk environment. We are delighted that the EXPLORE programme won the Community Awareness Award at the National Student Achievement Awards 2016. These awards recognise the contribution of individuals and groups from third level education institutions across the island of Ireland.”
NUI Galway Students’ Union President Phelim Kelly said: “EXPLORE is a proven model for enabling innovation. We’re proud to have been the first higher education institution in Ireland to run a programme such as EXPLORE. It’s encouraging that two concepts central to EXPLORE, namely ‘students as partners’ and ‘students as co-creators’, feature as key principles in the new Higher Education Authority report on student engagement.” (https://www.hea.ie/sites/default/files/enhancing_student_engagement_in_decision_making_1.pdf)
The keynote address at the event was given by Dr Easkey Britton, world-renowned Irish big-wave surfer, scholar and social change-maker. Dr. Britton is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Social Change at NUI Galway investigating nature-based solutions to health and wellbeing. She spoke about using one’s passion to bring about positive social change and the Waves of Freedom organisation that she co-founded (https://easkeybritton.com and https://wavesoffreedom.org/).
Amber Walsh Olesen, EXPLORE Coordinator, NUI Galway Students’ Union said: “EXPLORE makes it easy for students and staff at NUI Galway to work together and bring new ideas to life. The wider community benefits from EXPLORE as many projects are specifically developed to address societal needs, and the reach of EXPLORE projects already stretches into the thousands both on and off campus.”
EXPLORE was initiated in early 2012 by NUI Galway Students’ Union and NUI Galway.
It provides seed funding and support to NUI Galway students and staff partners to work in equal partnership to bring new ideas to life to benefit NUI Galway and the wider community. To date, EXPLORE has funded over 100 new projects involving more than 600 students and staff, and these projects have gone on to raise more than €290,000 of additional funding.
EXPLORE is funded by NUI Galway, NUI Galway Students’ Union, the Galway University Foundation and Galway County Council.
NUI Galway Students’ Union won two prizes at the National Student Achievement Awards which took place in Dublin Castle last night. The EXPLORE Programme won first prize in the Community Awareness Award category and the CÉIM programme took top honours in the Student Engagement Activity of the Year Award.
The EXPLORE innovation initiative supports NUI Galway students and staff to collaborate as equal partners to bring about positive change on campus and in the wider community. It was initiated by NUI Galway Students’ Union and NUI Galway in early 2012 and has seed funded over 100 new projects involving more than 600 students and staff. These projects have gone on to raise over €285,000 funding to date.
CÉIM is an academic peer learning programme which NUI Galway Students’ Union established in 2013. The aim of the programme is to support 1st year students to transition successfully to university, to succeed academically, and to develop networks and complete their studies. The programme was first piloted with NUI Galway College of Engineering and Informatics in 2013 and introduced in the College of Arts, Social Sciences & Celtic Studies in 2015. It will be offered to 20 percent of 1st year students in the next academic year.
The impact to date of the CÉIM programme is very encouraging with 80% of 1st years surveyed in 2014/15 saying it helped them settle into university. Regular CÉIM attendees achieved 9% higher grades in 2014/15 than irregular or non-attendees and were much more likely to pass the year. The Student Engagement Activity of the Year Award was awarded by CEO of the Higher Education Authority, Tom Boland.
Mr. Boland noted that “CÉIM is innovative and invigorating and shows a depth of work and understanding worthy of any project in higher education.”
The Student Achievement Awards took place in Dublin Castle last night. The Awards recognise the contribution of individuals and groups from third level education institutions across the island of Ireland.
Students’ Union President Phelim Kelly said: “NUI Galway Students’ Union is delighted to be recognised for its work in the areas of Community Awareness and Student Engagement. As a Students’ Union, everything we do is student centred and we endeavour to ensure that our members are equipped with the skills to achieve their full potential in University, and to be in a position to participate in, and contribute to, their community”
“CÉIM has been a hugely successful programme and has been an enormous benefit to students in NUI Galway. We look forward to making it available to more students in the coming years”
“EXPLORE has proven itself to be a dynamic model for enabling innovation. It has brought NUI Galway students and staff together to work on hundreds of projects that have benefitted the entire community and we look forward to watching its progress”
This project aims to complete an audit of sustainability related activities throughout the NUI Galway campus and will develop a video presentation as the foundation for an awareness campaign to encourage students and staff to study, work and live sustainably.