CIT Senior Lecturer wins inaugural "Outstanding Contribution to Engineering National Award" - Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards

CIT Senior Lecturer wins inaugural

Published on: Saturday, 12 November 2011







The inaugural Engineers Ireland "Outstanding Contribution to Engineering National Award" was presented to Senior Lecturer Seán F. O’Leary based on his contribution over many years to the promotion and achievement of excellence in the engineering profession both in Ireland and on the international stage.

Over the past two years alone, students tutored and mentored by Seán have won a glittering array of international and national awards including the Babcock Award for Best European Mechanical Engineering Student, the European Laureate of Innovation “Innovact ”Award, The Vicon and Corin International Medical Engineering Awards, The Siemens Engineers Ireland Innovative Student of the Year Award, The Oscar Wilde and William Butler Yeats Gold Medals, Undergraduate Awards of Ireland and Northern Ireland and The MEETA Asset Managers National Student Award.

Pictured on left is European Winner Rian Edman, First Place Winner of the Babcock Award for Best European Mechanical Engineering Student 2011 at the 2011 European Science Engineering and Technology SET Award Finals.
Rian also won the William Butler Yeats Gold Medal Winner - Engineering and Mechanical Sciences - Undergraduate Awards of Ireland and Northern Ireland.


Seán organises on an annual basis the Cork Mechanical, Manufacturing & Biomedical Engineering Exhibition - Ireland’s Largest Educational Engineering and Innovation Exhibition, with over 180 stands in 2011. The exhibition attracts over 30 sponsors, large numbers of the industrialists, academics and the general public, including in excess of 2,000 second-level students annually with major centrepiece exhibits including a full-scale Reconstruction of the Studio of the renowned Engineer and Artist, Leonardo da Vinci incorporating six scale models of his designs/inventions. Both Jordan and Ferrari Formula 1 Racing cars have also formed centrepiece exhibits.

Seán is the driving force behind the development and delivery of ground-breaking Innovative and New Product Development Multi-Disciplinary Engineering/Business Laboratories modules and projects at CIT. Business and engineering students are brought together through an action learning project in which multidisciplinary teams collaborate in conception, research, design, development, experimentation, validation, prototype production, proof of concept of an innovative product, estimate its commercial potential and plan for its exploitation. Many of the emerging products, while critically cognisant of commercial realities and practicalities, are also driven by student idealism towards the use of engineering, business, and innovation to better mankind - with many projects addressing biomedical and societal needs and issues.

Seán is also the author of the major submission CIT Innovative Product Development Laboratories major submission "Engineering an Innovation Eco-System ", which was also declared the Winner of the " Best in Class " Engineering Education 2011 Award at the  Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards. Employing educational and research tools, methodologies and skills acquired, developed and honed over many years’ experience of board face lecturing and industrial cooperative applied research, the laboratory and workshop based modules centre on the practical development and inculcation of engineering systematic product research, design, development and production skills, experimental and modelling techniques, commercial investigation/assessment, marketing, communication and interdisciplinary teamwork management. Environmental impact, lifecycle, safety and hazard analysis techniques are introduced and implemented in the innovative product design, production, validation, optimisation, utilisation and disposal. The student learning process is enhanced by academic, industrial, peer and public review through formal demonstration and exhibition of the developing solutions. Industrial professional expertise is harnessed through the incorporation of formal consultations and day/ evening lectures by leaders of industry and research, project managers, entrepreneurs, patent lawyers, marketing analysts and innovation centre managers. IPD student intern progression to founding of start-up companies, developing a range of international award winning pipeline innovative products, heralds a bright future for Irish innovation and entrepreneurship.

Seán expounds “The exposure of students to international standards in research and development is critical to the establishment of a world class learning and research environment and also performs a most important benchmarking and validation role. Many of the International and National Adjudication panels have averred to the integrated multi-disciplinary structure of the CIT projects as a critical element in setting them apart from other innovation research projects. The Engineering of an Innovation Eco-System through the development of Innovative and New Product Development Multi-Disciplinary Engineering / Business Laboratories modules and supporting structures has led to a great flowering of Irish engineering educational achievement and will play a major part in the recovery and future development of a powerful, vibrant, prosperous and ethical knowledge-based Irish economy. ”

“I am continuously energised by my students. There is a great life and career enhancement to meeting and engaging with a new cohort of bright young minds every year. This indeed was encapsulated by the proudest moment for me at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards in Dublin when Louise Connolly of ESBI was presented with the Chartered Engineer of the Year Award 2011. Seán had lectured Louise throughout her undergraduate years here in CIT in the early 2,000’s and was Louise's final year capstone project supervisor in 2004, when she undertook the design of an autoclave system for Amersham Health. “Louise greatly impressed me at that time. She was a highly motivated and idealistic student. Louise returned to us recently here in CIT to present on her ESB International work experience to our final year students - we were all impressed with the very significant technical, design, logistical and managerial challenges that Louise had encountered and admirably overcome. As Engineers Ireland Chartered Engineer of the Year Award 2011, Louise will be a great ambassador for engineering.”

Seán attributes his success in the Outstanding Contribution Award and the CIT success in the “Best in Class” Engineering Education Award to the work of many devoted staff members at CIT, but dedicates his award and inspiration to his wife, Mary, his four young sons Eoghan, Rory, Conor, and Tomas and his community in Ballinspittle – “ My work nationally and internationally has required me to travel extensively and has also required many very early mornings and very late nights at work in CIT. None of this would have been possible without the great support of Mary and our great neighbours in Ballinspittle.”

Senior Lecturer Seán F. O’Leary was also the recipient of the National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL Ireland ) Inaugural Excellence in Teaching Award 2008 and the Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys Enterprise Ireland /Invest Northern Ireland Academic Award Winner at the Student Enterprise Awards 2009.


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