GSK partners with WIT Calmast to launch STEM ambassador programme for Science Week 2018

Initiative builds on a range of GSK activities to encourage young people into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths

In advance of Science Week 2018, GSK, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, has joined forces with Waterford Institute of Technology’s STEM Outreach Centre – Calmast, to launch its STEMreach programme. The initiative will see 14 GSK employees from its manufacturing site in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, who have trained to become STEM ambassadors, deliver a programme promoting science and technology to students in local secondary schools in Waterford.

GSK employs 1,700 people across four locations in Ireland – Cork, Dublin, Sligo and Waterford – and the programme will initially be rolled out to students in second and fifth year in the Ardscoil and Augustinian Friary secondary schools in Dungarvan.

The ambassadors have received specialist science communicator training from Calmast, and will visit each class over a three-month period, commencing during Science Week, which runs from 11th-18th November 2018.

The ambassadors will give students an overview of the variety of STEM careers available, and share their varied career paths; they will also invite the students to participate in some simple experiments and invite the schools on a tour of the GSK manufacturing site, which has been producing pain relief and denture care products at its facility in Dungarvan for more than 30 years. 

Marie Duffy, Technical Director at GSK Dungarvan, says:

“A qualification in science can offer access to some of the most exciting and interesting career opportunities going. Through our new STEMreach programme, GSK ambassadors will work closely with students in the classroom and encourage them to explore the variety of careers that exist in a business like ours – from material science through to packaging technology.

“This programme is the next step for GSK in terms of supporting local communities and inspiring Ireland’s next generation of innovators.”

Dr Sheila Donegan, Director of Calmast at WIT, says:

WIT ‘s STEM Outreach Centre – Calmast plays a key role in promoting the southeast as a leading centre for Irish excellence in STEM. We’re delighted to be partnering with GSK so that local students will benefit from its ambassadors’ real-world experience and expertise to demonstrate the diversity of opportunities that exist within STEM. 

The programme builds on a number of established GSK initiatives to nurture the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians. These include hosting visits from local primary school children at GSK facilities, partnering with UCC to deliver the STEAM ‘Engineering in a Box’ programme to encourage primary school girls and boys to consider engineering as a career path, and an apprenticeship scheme and summer placements/internships at the Cork, Dungarvan and Sligo sites.

Russell Macpherson, Technical Director, GSK Sligo says: “STEM equips our young people with the skills required to think critically, innovate, problem-solve and adapt to a changing world. At GSK Sligo, we support STEM education through local secondary schools and third level collaborations that give students the opportunity to visit the site and experience STEM in action, or undertake STEM-related project placements as part of their education. We are always delighted to see the enjoyment students get from engaging with a global company that is science-driven.”

Siobhan Creedon, Technical Development Director, GSK Cork says: “Science Week is a great opportunity to engage young people in STEM and give an overview of the breadth of career opportunities available to both men and women. While our gender balance across science and engineering here in GSK Cork is good, across the sector women are under-represented and it is especially important to encourage girls from a young age. It’s not just the fun experiments that can capture imaginations – we need to show primary school girls and boys how important science and engineering are in the world we live in, and how they can drive the development of new medicines, and potentially change lives.”