The two talented students awarded this year’s SIRUS Scholarship are Zoe Elliott and Pauric O’Connell, both fourth-year students of Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Building Engineering. The Scholarship is an initiative created by James Byrne, a DIT graduate and Frank Caul, co-founders of the successful Irish engineering company, the SIRUS Group. “SIRUS are always looking for good people”, says Frank Caul, “we prefer to employ the graduates from Building Engineering in DIT as they are able to hit the ground running and contribute to the company rapidly; this also means that these graduates climb the career ladder quickly.”
DIT’s Bachelor of Engineering in Building Engineering is a unique course in Ireland and there are not enough students to meet strong industry demand. Ciara Ahern, Head of Building Engineering at DIT explains, “The buildings in which we spend 90% of our time are responsible for about half of global energy use and Ireland urgently needs Building Engineers to help meet recruitment demand as we scale up for the climate change targets for our built environment.”
DIT has an open access policy to education and unlike other universities allows students access the system at apprenticeship level and without honours maths. “If you want in, there is a way in”, says Ciara Ahern, “some of our best students are those that access the system at apprenticeship level and ordinary degree level, we welcome all prospective students and encourage all to apply.”
James Byrne, CEO of SIRUS is himself an excellent example of this open access approach, starting off his career as an apprentice plumber in DIT. “This is why we set up the scholarship based on the attributes of grit and perseverance rather than just academic merit,” says James Byrne, “and the end of the day it is a stick-with-it attitude that gets you through tough times in education, business and in life in general.”
SIRUS also generously donated a state-of-the-art recirculating air conditioning teaching system to the college which will be put to use for the next academic year.