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AIT Research Students Awarded Prestigious Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarships

AIT Research Students Awarded Prestigious Government of Ireland Postgraduate ScholarshipsAthlone Institute of Technology

Three students at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT) have been awarded prestigious postgraduate scholarships from the Irish Research Council.

The Irish Research Council Funded by the State under the National Development Plan, manage the very prestigious Government of Ireland Postgraduate Award Scholarship.  The award scheme offers scholarships for suitably qualified individuals to pursue a research master’s or PhD (either traditional or structured), in any discipline, at eligible higher education institution in Ireland.

The three successful scholars Conor Keighrey, Jonny O’Dwyer and Gavin Burke are all former undergraduate students of the Faculty of Engineering and Informatics in AIT.  Conor and Jonny from the Dept. of Electronics & Informatics and Gavin from the Dept. of Mechanical/Polymer Engineering, were successful in applying for the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme. They are part of a prestigious group of researchers in Ireland to receive this award.

Conor’s research will focus on the creation of immersive virtual reality applications for language categorization and development skills under the supervision of Dr Niall Murray. The aim is to create a system that can help both children and adults who have expressive and receptive language speech difficulties.  Conor will employ state of the art virtual reality technologies and he will collaborate with speech and language therapists. A native of Ballinasloe, Conor graduated with a first-class honours degree in Network Management and Cloud Infrastructure.

Jonny O’Dwyer completed his BEng (Hons) in Software Engineering degree in AIT in June. Jonny, a first-class honours student from Clara in County Offaly, will be working in the area of affective computing, a topic in which there has been growing research interest in recent years. Affective computing looks at how intelligent devices can recognize and respond to a user’s emotions. The project, entitled “A speech, posture and eye-gaze database for emotion recognition” under the supervision of Dr Ronan Flynn, will look at the cues that can be gathered from a user’s speech, posture and eye-gaze and examine how those cues can be interpreted and processed in order to predict the emotional state of the user. The results of Jonny’s work will benefit a number of areas to which affective computing is applied, including educational tutoring systems, therapeutic systems, counselling and health systems.

Gavin Burke a native of Birr, Co. Offaly did his undergraduate study in AIT in the area of Toxicology. Gavin is being funded by the IRC to continue to PhD to explore a programme of research concerning the development of an electroactive polymer for the repair of peripheral nerve severed by a length greater than 3cm, a topic in which there has been growing research interest in recent years. Gavin’s project, entitled “Electrophysiological Hydrogels for Peripheral Nerve Repair”, will look at the combination of photocrosslinkable polymers and electroactive components with the aim of simulating the properties of peripheral nerves.  Gavin will be working with Dr. Ian Major.  Dr. Major is a Principal Investigator in the Materials Research Institute (MRI) at AIT. His research interest relates to the application of polymer engineering to medicine, particularly implants for drug delivery and tissue engineering. Ian is PI on a €450,000 European Regional Development Fund and Enterprise Ireland funded Commercialisation Fund project that is developing synthetic nerve guide conduits for peripheral nerve repair.  The MRI has a long history of materials research spanning across recycling, composite materials and medical devices.

Dr. Niall Murray and Dr. Ronan Flynn are researchers in the Department of Electronics & Informatics, a department within the Faculty of Engineering & Informatics, and also within the Software Research Institute of AIT.  AIT has a growing research record in Software Engineering, Cloud Computing, Big Data, Machine Learning, Data Science, Security, Networks and Communications, Immersive Multimedia Communication and the Internet of Things, as evidenced by numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings.

The Irish Research Council has opened the 2017 call for the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship scheme and which will close for applications on 2nd November 2016 at 16.00 (www.research.ie)

AIT has three Faculty’s: Faculty of Business with departments Business, Accountancy, Hotel, Leisure & Tourism.  Faculty of Engineering with departments Civil, Mechanical, Polymer, Electronics & Informatics.  Faculty of Science with departments Life & Physical, Sports, Humanities, Social Care and Nursing.  AIT’s expertise span across a broad range of departments.If you are interested in pursuing an application to the IRC scholarship scheme and seeking supervision support from AIT whether you are a graduate of AIT or not, please contact the Office of Research and they will align your query with the appropriate supervisor to your area of research. Please contact Lorna Walsh, Funded Research Manager on 090 647 1805 or lwalsh@ait.ie.