Following on from the announcement that Offaly County Council was shortlisted for ‘Green Public Sector Organisation of the Year’ under the 2024 Green Awards programme, the Council has also been shortlisted for a Collaboration and Leadership Initiative Award in the LAMA Awards. These Awards recognise and celebrate community and councils working together. They provide a fantastic opportunity to highlight and celebrate the work done within our communities, to reward our unsung heroes and recognise the phenomenal contribution they have made to our lives.
Speaking at the announcement, Chief Executive of Offaly County Council, Anna Marie Delaney outlined “Offaly County Council is innovating and transforming through a range of business, community, and educational initiatives and the VEX Robotics Competition is just one of these initiatives. Our Council’s STEAM led education programme, the first in the midlands, sees students engage with companies who use robotics in their business, and it builds on Offaly’s strong heritage in science and engineering. Our STEAM Educational Officer, Dean Hodge, works with all our schools and we are delighted to be the first Local Authority to have someone working fulltime in this role.”
Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick acknowledged the support received in delivering this initiative noting “No matter how hard you try to predict the future, it will always be uncertain. Technology is at the forefront of such innovations. We are delighted to have support in delivering this programme in collaboration with Munster Technological University, Local Enterprise Office Offaly, Offaly County Council Library Service, and Engineering & Information Technology Departments. Other partners include Primary and Post Primary Schools in Offaly, Department of Rural and Community Development, Department of Education and Skills, Offaly Local Development Company, Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board, as well as Athlone and Laois Education Centres.
Ray Bell, Broadband Officer, and STEAM innovator with Offaly County Council confirmed “The Council’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths (STEAM) Robotics Programme is in all primary and secondary schools in Offaly and each year over 2,000 students compete in the VEX Robotics Competition. Offaly County Council is investing in future generations by giving them the skills required for jobs, which may not be considered yet. Students who are developing their STEAM skills are more likely to invent, build, drive, and innovate future technologies that can benefit their lives and communities. The project collaborates with industry, education, and government to support Digital education and training to ensure greater citizen engagement and inclusion, which is required to prepare our students for future jobs. The children involved in our STEAM initiatives will drive the Offaly economy for the next 50 years and will sustain rural communities. This programme gives children as young as five years old their first opportunity to gain experience about engineering and robotics while having fun.”
Ms Delaney concluded “Innovation 2020, Ireland’s strategy for Research and Development, Science and Technology, highlights the critical importance of excellence in STEAM Education to ensure the continuous development of a pipeline of talent to support both Foreign Direct Investment and an active ecosystem for indigenous start-ups. Offaly County Council is future proofing the county and its students in an exciting and engaging way. This project will undoubtedly ensure that today’s students are qualified for the jobs of tomorrow. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the role of the teachers and parents that are encouraging our youth to get involved, their innovation mindset contributes to improved digital literacy in our communities.”
The winner of this award will be confirmed on 17th February 2024 at LAMA awards ceremony in Dublin.