Electronic Engineering works with Bish School Lab
Directed by: Dr. Martin Glavin
A hands-on electronics laboratory course at NUI Galway gives leaving certificate students from St. Joseph’s College, Galway, a chance to learn practical knowledge in the field of Electronic Engineering. Students from honours physics classes construct and test an electronic circuit in the lab, giving students that would typically only have access to diagrams in a book, the ability to learn hands on about Electronic Engineering.
"We hope that the programme will help these talented young students with their understanding of the electrical and electronic aspects of their leaving certificate physics course," Dr Martin Glavin from the Electronic Engineering course at NUI Galway said. "It will also introduce them to the exciting world of high-technology by bringing them out of the classroom and into the state-of-the-art facilities at the Department of Electronic Engineering," Dr Glavin said.
Run for eight weeks total and giving two groups one hour a week in the lab for four weeks, this course is a modification of what first year Physics students in college would do. Students experiment with semi conductor theory, demonstrating all the apparatus and experiments on the course. With six students from the course taking the ISO National Physics exam, and an expected 30 to 40 percent A1's on their leaving certificate results, the students are a very talented group.
"As a consequence (of the lab) we have lots of kids who would be interested in this area as a future, where they might not have been without this experience," Brendan Doheny, one of the Physics Teachers at St. Joseph’s College, Galway said. "This is great hands on experience; they get exposure to the apparatus in the lab, exposure to postgraduate and undergraduate students, and interaction with teachers of this field."
Accounting for 30 percent of the leaving certification, this has helped the students using the lab learn life skills.
"It’s really about getting them to understand taking measurements and precautions," Dr. Glavin said. "Even like checking a fuse at home, this is giving them life skills."
According to Dr. Glavin, the students are fascinated by what they are learning during the experiments, asking questions and participating fully.
"When you explain a concept to them, and they apply that theory to a circuit they build themselves, you can see their satisfaction with their own work," Dr. Glavin said. "They are very motivated which is refreshing."
Liam Doheny, a 6th year leaving certification student has been working at the lab for a few weeks now and is contemplating a future at NUI Galway in Electronic Engineering as a result.
"It’s really good because we don’t have this equipment at our school so it’s good to use it and see where you can go," Doheny said. "We’re applying what we’re learning instead of just looking at a book."
Doheny believes that being supervised by a postgraduate student has helped him in learning the experiments and applying theory into practice.
"The tutors have been very helpful and enthusiastic to help. You can chat to them and get along with them and they really help give insight into the Electronic Engineering Course," Doheny said.
With 40 students in the lab now and looking to top up at around 60 next year, Dr. Glavin has applied for service learning funding from CKI, a Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway which gives students the opportunity to work in their community while learning practical applications of taught material. Dr. Glavin hopes to fund other schools that wouldn’t usually have the funding to get into town with this money, as well as develop Service Learning through the lab, which would give Electronic Engineering students the opportunity to gain academic credit for their time in assisting with the Bish lab.
"We hope to make it easier for schools by funding them to come in," Dr. Glavin said. "It costs €450 to get a bus of students here from Clifden, so we’d hope to give them some funding for the trip into town, bring them in and give them use of the facilities. Other schools in the city have already shown an interest in participating in the project and it is hoped that it will be extended to the wider schools community in the coming months."
CKI is delighted with the ability to support the Service Learning associated with the Bish lab, as well as