‘Game-changer’ facility is expected to significantly increase the supply of STEM graduates to Ireland’s life sciences, ICT, and engineering sectors
The Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) is to break ground on a new multi-million-euro STEM facility at its campus in Athlone.
The large-scale development, part of the first bundle of projects in the Government’s Higher Education PPP programme, will span three-storeys and a floor area in excess of 6,000 sq m. It will create capacity for up to 1,300 students and 70 staff.
The new STEM building will feature an entrance plaza, tiered seating, science and computer laboratories and equipment, lecture theatres, and office space and connect with the campus’s existing engineering building and new polymer centre of excellence.
Construction on the site is expected to be completed in early 2025, with the building to be fully fitted out and operational by September 2025.
Jimmy Browne, VP with a responsibility for Campus Services and Capital Development at TUS, said the STEM facility represents another important step forward in the development of TUS’s campus infrastructure and will provide significant benefit to students, staff and stakeholders in the region.
“This new building will facilitate the expansion of STEM education on our Athlone campus and will be fitted out with state-of-the-art learning and teaching facilities that exemplify the high standards of facilities that TUS is committed to delivering for students and staff as a new technological university,” he explained.
“This significant investment in the development and modernisation of the Athlone campus will enable us to not only service the needs of students, current and future, but also to rise to meet the needs of industry across the rapidly evolving disciplines of life sciences, ICT and engineering.”
A number of laboratories, specialist and general, will be stacked over the first and second floors of the new STEM facility, among them a cell culture suite, an important technique for developing biotechnology products, such as monoclonal antibodies.
The building will also house new sports teaching and research facilities for TUS’s sport and health science courses, including a new biomechanics laboratory and an athletic therapy treatment room.
According to Dr Don Faller, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Health at TUS, the new STEM facility will be a “game-changer” whose additional academic, industry, and research capabilities will significantly enhance the campus and overall student experience.
“When it comes on stream in 2025, it will be a game-changer. We currently have more than 2,000 students studying within the Faculty of Science and Health in Athlone and this number is projected to grow considerably in the coming years. The additional capacity and state-of-the-art capabilities this new STEM building will provide will enable us to continue growing and developing our STEM offering,” Dr Faller said.
TUS President Prof. Vincent Cunnane added that the investment will deliver a significant social and economic boost to the region.
“TUS is a growing entity, undergoing a period of considerable change and expansion, and is a key driver of economic growth within the region. Our goal is to build a modern and dynamic campus that is futureproofed and capable of meeting the demands of the present and the future, which will ultimately support the region in retaining talent and attracting inward investment,” Prof. Cunnane said.
The project is one of 11 major capital projects in the higher education sector to be delivered in two bundles in collaboration with the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Higher Education Authority and the National Development Finance Agency.